Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted September 16, 2019
An attack on a Saudi Arabian oil processing facility over the weekend has knocked out a significant part of Saudi production, at least temporarily, shaking oil markets. The precise amount and duration of the outage remains uncertain, and there are still unknowns about the attack that caused it, which in turn has inflated the risk premium on oil prices due to market fears about what may happen next within the region.
The market’s initial direction is clear, with Brent crude oil up more than $8 per barrel as of 3 p.m. Monday, per Bloomberg. Let’s break down what’s happened in context, recognizing that the U.S. energy revolution has fundamentally added to U.S. and global near-term deliverability of oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids, generally helping stabilize the global market against supply disruptions.
Posted June 11, 2019
We’ve warned before (see here, here and here) that the broken Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use put consumers at risk. And that the administration’s recent decision to allow summer sales of E15 fuel – a blend containing 50 percent more ethanol than the E10 gasoline that’s widespread across the country – is an ineffective approach to addressing concerns with the RFS that will only serve to make things worse. Now, we can add another report to the long list of evidence that the RFS needs to be sunset – this time coming from the non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).The GAO recently reviewed the effects of the RFS and found that requiring the use of corn-based ethanol and biodiesel in gasoline supplies hasn’t lowered pump prices or significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions – two of the main goals of the flawed RFS program. In fact, the review finds that gas prices outside of the corn-rich Midwest likely increased because of the program. To make matters worse, the review also found that there has been little, if any, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions – a main selling point used by proponents to justify the program.
Posted May 1, 2019
With summer driving season almost here, nationwide average gasoline prices were $2.88 per gallon as of April 30, according to the American Automobile Association, identical to what they were one year ago when adjusted for price inflation. This good news for consumers is due, at least in part, to record-breaking domestic oil production, which has put downward pressure on global prices for crude oil, the main factor in determining prices as the fuel pump.
While the current price may be the same when you pull up to pump, some notable things have changed behind the scenes.
Posted March 25, 2019
For U.S. natural gas, the fourth quarter of 2018 ended with consumers benefiting from the lowest prices in nearly a year – despite the weakest inventories and coldest winter since 2014.
Indeed, recently we’ve seen natural gas prices as low as $2.56 per million Btu (Feb. 5, Bloomberg) corresponding with record high demand of 96.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) of marketed production for February 2019 and low inventories – 415 billion cubic feet below the five-year average range as of Feb. 1.
It’s remarkable, because this combination of factors ordinarily would raise natural gas prices. The fact that prices fell illustrates the vigor of domestic production, which has soared during the U.S. energy revolution.
Domestic abundance and affordability have been at the heart a truly amazing U.S. natural gas story – one that has seen U.S. producers meet domestic needs and also increase liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to friends and allies around the world.
Posted November 21, 2018
Recent headlines on natural gas prices may leave Americans feeling whipsawed by marketplace fluctuations (see here and here). So, let’s look at what’s been going on with natural gas this year. But first, four points to keep in mind:Affordable natural gas has saved the average household more than $100 per year in recent years; (2) most consumers are typically insulated from wholesale price variations – the focus of recent news coverage; (3) price increases this month to date are mainly the result of lower inventories coupled with cold weather forecasts that, of course, can change suddenly; and (4) recent price movements in natural gas futures are well within the ranges seen during the resurgence in U.S. energy production
Posted November 15, 2018
Earlier this year we pointed out that a roller coaster of emerging economic factors could affect oil markets and, ultimately, consumers – and we were correct.
Rising interest rates, trade and tariff disputes, near decade-high U.S. dollar appreciation and potential financial market uncertainties have become pronounced over the past few months, affecting global crude oil markets and producing the strongest correlation between financial markets and oil prices in years.
Posted July 6, 2018
Earlier this week we looked at the summer variation in gasoline prices, due mainly to increased driving as well as fuel specifications that have added to the cost of gasoline. As the 2018 summer driving season approaches its midpoint, let’s check the data on gasoline prices and, separately, take a deeper look at why prices in any one state have tended to be higher (or lower) than the national average.
According to the American Automobile Association, the nationwide average price for regular gasoline was $2.85 per gallon on June 28, a decrease of 12 cents per gallon since May 28.
Remember, gasoline and diesel fuel prices tend to track the price of crude oil, because crude oil currently makes up more than half of the cost to make the fuels. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that crude oil made up 56 percent of the price of gasoline in May, the agency’s most recent analysis.
Posted July 2, 2018
In previous posts (see here and here), we’ve discussed factors that have affected gasoline prices in the past. The cost of crude oil is chief among them, accounting for more than 50 percent of the fuel price. Some other factors are seasonal, and taxes imposed on each gallon of gasoline vary from state to state.
Posted June 14, 2018
With Wall Street Journal headlines such as “Trans-Atlantic Oil-Price Spread Soars as Supply Glut Disappears,” it might be hard to remember that the United States’ domestic oil production stood at a record 10.5 million barrels per day (mb/d) in April, and the nation’s petroleum trade balance is in its best position in 50 years. This has reinforced U.S. energy security, lowered the trade deficit and boosted economic growth.
That said, given our country’s much improved energy outlook, some may question why we’re still importing crude oil and refined products. And, while we’re still importing oil, why do we export domestic crude – especially when prices have risen at the pump? Why don’t we just keep American oil at home? ...
Answers are found in an understanding of basic market realities.
Posted May 31, 2018
In a recently released report, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development digs into the factors that have made the U.S. energy dominance possible, and – specifically – the role of natural gas in energy dominance.