Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted August 4, 2015
Something we hear frequently (and too often from people who should know better), is that as long as the United States is an oil importer it shouldn’t export domestic crude. It sounds logical and certainly makes for a good headline. But the idea ignores reality and sound economic analysis.
A quick skim of government data on U.S. trade shows that goods imported into the United States are often goods that also are exported from the United States. The fact is that oil is traded globally, and the ebbs and flows of global supply affect us here in the U.S. Bruce Everett, who teaches oil market economics at Tufts University, explained in a recent article for Politico:
… it’s certainly true that the US will still require imported oil for the foreseeable future to meet our needs. But the implication here is that exporting US crude oil would increase our import needs and therefore undermine national security. And that’s not how the oil market works. The US has an open economy, and American consumers pay world prices for oil – just as they do for wheat, corn, copper, gold and other internationally traded commodities. Crude oil is sold in a single, integrated global market. If the world oil price spikes, the US will suffer, along with everyone else, to the extent we rely on the global market for imports. But exporting some domestically produced oil would not affect this equation.
Energy isolationism isn’t in the United States’ best interest – economically or from a security standpoint. While some argue that shutting in U.S. crude oil is better for America, that kind of faulty thinking ignores the way free markets work – and can work to America’s benefit if we lift the ban on exporting domestic crude.
Posted July 14, 2015
A potential nuclear deal with Iran that would permit the Iranians to resume exporting crude oil to global markets – short-term and long-term – underscores questions about our own oil export policies. Here are two: What are the implications of Iranian crude oil exports for U.S. production? And: When will our government lift de facto sanctions against the export of U.S. oil?
Bloomberg reports that Iran’s oil minister says the country can increase exports by 500,000 barrels a day as soon as economic sanctions are lifted, then an additional 500,000 barrels a day in the following six months. Richard Nephew of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy is less optimistic about that kind of ramp-up. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has said Iran could reach 700,000 barrels per day by the end of 2016.
The point is, if there’s a nuclear deal that lifts economic sanctions against Iran, Iranian oil will be getting to market.
Posted March 3, 2015
ConocoPhillips Chairman and CEO Ryan Lance applies some uncomplicated logic to the question of whether the United States should lift its 1970s-era ban on exporting domestic crude oil. “We should treat crude oil like any other potential product export,” Lance said at an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
As he did during a January visit to Washington, Lance laid out compelling reasons for lifting the crude oil export ban: An abundance of domestic light crude produced from shale is mismatched for a U.S. refining sector that’s largely configured to process heavier crudes, exporting crude would give producers access to the global market, helping to sustain domestic production and U.S. industry jobs, and exports would add supply to the global market, helping stabilize it and affording the U.S. new opportunities to exert positive influences in the world.
Posted January 5, 2015
We’ve got an energy revolution taking place in this country, but can we keep it going – and even better, can we increase it?
These and more will be the focus of the State of American Energy event on Tuesday from Washington D.C. You can watch the event live here beginning at 12:15 p.m. Eastern. Join in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #SOAE2015.
Posted December 24, 2014
The gift that is American energy is seen in some key numbers: domestic crude oil production reaching more than 9 million barrels per day last month, the highest level in more than two decades, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA); total U.S. net imports of energy as a share of energy consumption falling to their lowest level in nearly 30 years during the first six months of this year; gasoline prices dropping to an average of $2.47 per gallon last week, their lowest point since May 2009, according to the Lundberg Survey Inc.
The first two numbers might not fully register with a lot of Americans. We’ll come back to them. The last one, gasoline prices, does so loudly.
Retail gasoline prices fell after crude oil prices dropped for the fourth straight week – a product of weaker-than-expected global demand and increasing production, which EIA says will save American households $550 next year, Bloomberg News reports. Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey to Bloomberg:
“It is a dramatic boon to fuel consumers. (Gasoline) is a modest portion of our giant gross domestic product and yet it does have a pervasive and festive benefit to motorists.”
During this season of gift-giving and receiving, Americans should give thanks for the gifts of plentiful domestic oil and natural gas, modern technologies to harness them and an industry robust and innovative enough to bring the two together, resulting in surging, home-grown production. Indeed, the dramatic increase in U.S. oil production is the key addition to global supply that’s putting downward pressure on the cost of crude, the No. 1 factor in pump prices.
Posted December 1, 2014
There’s a new global energy order – with the United States at the hub. That’s the assessment in a number of articles following last week’s meeting of oil-exporting countries.
The benefits to America are manifold. The U.S. as global energy’s new center of gravity means economic strength here at home through jobs, consumer benefits and greater energy security, and the opportunity to project positive American values abroad – by impacting global markets as discussed above and by helping friends overseas through energy exports. All result from America’s energy revolution, built on safe development of oil and natural gas reserves from shale and other tight-rock with advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.
Posted June 20, 2014
Houston Chronicle: Oil, natural gas and coal have boosted living conditions around the globe, but policies to replace those fossil fuels "with inferior energy sources" could undermine those improvements, a former Texas environmental regulator argues.
In a 36-page paper - "Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case" - Kathleen Hartnett White, former chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, insists that access to oil, natural gas and coal are inextricably linked with prosperity and well-being.
Policies targeting heat-trapping greenhouse gases - including the Environmental Protection Agency's new plan for throttling carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants - overlook "the inestimable human benefits of fossil fuels," White says.
"Energy-dense, abundant, versatile, reliable, portable, and affordable, fossil fuels provide over 80 percent of the world's energy because they are superior to the current alternatives," White writes.
Posted April 7, 2014
U.S. Energy Boom Lifts Low-Income Workers Too
Wall Street Journal op-ed (subscription required): Mayors, governors and economic-development officials love natural-resource jobs—and today's North American energy revolution has been providing a lot of them. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of new jobs in the oil and gas industry (technically a part of mining) increased by roughly 270,000 between 2003 and 2012. This is an increase of about 92% compared with a 3% increase in all jobs during the same period.
The people of New York and other states that have so far declined to take part in the boom might like to know what they are missing because these jobs pay well. The BLS reports that the U.S. average annual wage (which excludes employer-paid benefits) in the oil and gas industry was about $107,200 during 2012, the latest full year available. That's more than double the average of $49,300 for all workers.
At the other end of the wage spectrum are waiters and waitresses in food services nationwide earning about $16,200 a year, workers in the accommodations industry with average pay of $27,300, and those in the retail trade with average wages of $27,700. But the evidence from the oil boom regions is that energy development lifts wages for low-income workers too.
Posted April 2, 2014
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that total net U.S. energy imports declined last year to their lowest level in more than 20 years – reflecting two energy positives for America: growth in domestic oil and natural gas production and increased exports of finished petroleum products. EIA:
Total U.S. net imports of energy, measured in terms of energy content, declined in 2013 to their lowest level in more than two decades. Growth in the production of oil and natural gas displaced imports and supported increased petroleum product exports, driving most of the decline. A large drop in energy imports together with a smaller increase in energy exports led to a 19% decrease in net energy imports from 2012 to 2013.Total energy imports declined faster—down 9% from 2012 to 2013—than in the previous year, while export growth slowed. Crude oil production grew 15%, about the same pace as in 2012, which led imports of crude oil to decrease by 12%, accounting for much of the overall decline in imports.
Posted January 3, 2013
Kevin Bullis, MIT Technology Review’s senior editor for energy, has a piece noting that the most significant advances in the energy field the past year resulted from surging natural gas and oil production from shale via hydraulic fracturing – an impact Bullis says is unlikely to be unsurpassed by other energy sectors in the near future: