Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted May 5, 2021
The United States’ energy relationship with Canada is vital to our economy (as well as Canada’s) and energy security – which makes the administration’s Day 1 cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and its omission of pipelines in its new infrastructure initiative look short-sighted.
A new U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) brief on U.S. crude oil imports underscores the importance of imported Canadian crude oil – in reducing U.S. reliance on imports from other suppliers and in filling the needs of U.S. refineries that are configured to process heavier crudes, including those from Western Canada.
Posted October 2, 2019
When it comes to motor fuels, the prices we pay at the pump historically reflect crude oil prices – the No. 1 input cost according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) – as well as the relative prices of other products, which collectively motivate refiners to manufacture different fuels.
We’ve seen through the energy revolution – and especially since 2015 – how lower prices for crude oil and natural gas (a key processing fuel and operating expense for refiners) have advantaged the U.S. petroleum refining industry – and ultimately led to lower fuel prices for consumers at home and abroad.
Posted September 3, 2019
The story of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is long and unfortunate – a program that is now largely obsolete thanks to surging domestic energy, whose mandates continue to loom over American consumers without many of the benefits it was supposed to provide. It lives on, protected by ethanol producers and corn state/presidential politics.
That’s the context for RFS policy tweaks expected soon from the White House – more fiddling with a flawed program that will attempt to force higher content of ethanol-blended fuel into the U.S. supply, potentially impacting consumers, while creating an uneven playing field in the refining sector.
Posted February 14, 2019
API’s Monthly Statistical Report (MSR), based on January data, is a good news/challenging news proposition.
First the good. January data tell us the U.S. has never produced more oil (11.9 million barrels per day, mb/d) and natural gas liquids (4.9 mb/d).
At the same time, U.S. refineries ran at their highest rates (93 percent capacity utilization) and produced the most they ever have for the month of January (17.3 mb/d). Moreover, domestic gasoline demand also was the greatest on record for the month of January (8.9 mb/d). These are terrific milestones. ... But some interesting challenges also emerged.
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 February 15, 2018
Posted November 16, 2017
The health of African American communities is a genuine cause for concern in our country. But attacking our industry is the wrong approach and detracts from the real work that should be done to reduce disparately high rates of disease among African Americans. Industry is committed to the health and safety of the communities where it operates and to its workers, leading the way on reducing U.S. greenhouse gas and other air emissions and supporting millions of well-paying jobs – one of the most important factors in Americans’ well-being.I’ve read an NAACP paper released this week that accuses the natural gas and oil industry of emissions that disproportionately burden African American communities. As a scientist, my overall observation is that the paper fails to demonstrate a causal relationship between natural gas activity and the health disparities, reported or predicted, within the African American community. Rather, scholarly research attributes those health disparities to other factors that have nothing to do with natural gas and oil operations – such as genetics, indoor allergens and unequal access to preventative care.
Posted September 18, 2017
Much of the energy-related news from hurricane-recovery areas of Texas and Florida continues to be encouraging. Shell said it was restarting its Deer Park refinery in the Houston area that was shut down three weeks ago with the approach of Hurricane Harvey. ExxonMobil said it could start most of the production units at its Beaumont, Texas, refinery later this week. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott said pre-Hurricane Irma preparations and a concentrated focus on refueling the state’s communities have shown progress.
Posted September 13, 2017
Ahead of the unprecedented 1 trillion gallons of water dumped on the Gulf Coast by Harvey, industry members acted swiftly to safely shut down facilities while supporting employees, including significant acts of humanitarianism and millions of dollars donated to relief organizations. Safe shut downs of refineries and other energy infrastructure were conducted to help ensure safe restarts when employees were able to return to work.
Yet, in the days after Harvey, some media reports have implied that these shut down and restarting processes were improper and outside the scope of state and federal oversight. To the contrary, in the event of a major storm like Harvey, refineries strive to use controlled emissions and flaring to protect workers, with facilities communicating closely with state and federal officials. This is done to help maximize facility and community safety. Indeed, in Harvey’s wake there have been no reports of explosions or other similarly hazardous conditions for workers or communities.