Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted May 21, 2020
After crude oil futures prices plunged into negative territory for a day last month, there was a good deal of speculation that the same thing could happen this month. Some even pointed to the April futures meltdown as a “doomsday” scenario for U.S. natural gas and oil.
Well, a number of things happened on the way to oil’s “doomsday.”
At the outset, let’s note that what happened with futures in April didn’t repeat this month. Oil futures prices for June delivery of West Texas Intermediate crude, whose contracts expired Tuesday, closed at $32.50 per barrel – about 300% higher than they did for those contracts a month ago. Let’s explore why.
John D. Siciliano
Posted May 20, 2020
Capt. Russell Holmes is the Center for Offshore Safety’s (COS) new director after serving for nearly three decades with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Holmes, who retired from the Coast Guard in 2020, takes over for Charlie Williams, who had led the center since 2012 after a long industry career. Holmes will be taking the center’s mission of offshore safety and environmental protection into its second decade of existence.
The center was created soon after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, the COS has enhanced the safety culture in offshore operations, while supporting federal regulations that mandate Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) at all operations on the Outer Continental Shelf.
Just prior to joining the center, Holmes served as the Coast Guard’s senior point of contact for offshore safety in the Gulf, overseeing marine inspection and investigation programs that ultimately support SEMS. As he explains in the Q&A below, Holmes says the industry’s professionalism and safety commitment matched his while he was serving as one of industry’s lead regulators.
Posted May 19, 2020
Natural gas’ economic competitiveness continues, even amid the highly unexpected market conditions associated with the coronavirus pandemic – outcompeting coal, the No. 2 fuel for power generation.
While consumer electricity use patterns are changing as power demand throughout the country has declined during the coronavirus crisis, natural gas is playing a growing role in meeting that demand.
This shift towards greater reliance on natural gas – along with a corresponding decline in coal-fired generation – has been a key feature of the U.S. power sector for most of the past decade, and the current environment appears to be accelerating this trend. In fact, the coal-to-gas transition is starker during this historic season as lower electricity demand, coupled with low natural gas prices, is providing added incentive for power suppliers.
Posted May 18, 2020
America’s extensive network of pipelines and energy infrastructure safely connects our abundant natural gas and oil resources with refineries, businesses and consumers. The U.S. liquids pipeline system, which stretches more than 218,000 miles, delivered 21.8 billion barrels of crude oil and refined products in 2018 – the essential link between domestic energy and Americans’ daily lives.
The industry’s commitment to safety and sustainability, through industry-led reporting, standards-setting and performance initiatives, has contributed to ongoing improvements in pipeline operations. This month, API and our partner associations released two new reports that show declining pipeline-related incidents and continuous improvement in environmental performance – both enhanced by growing use of safety management systems.
Posted May 14, 2020
API’s latest Monthly Statistical Report (MSR) has positive news; it just takes a close look to find it.
One example: Weekly petroleum demand data (MSR and U.S. Energy Information Administration), as measured by total domestic petroleum deliveries, indicates that the worst impacts on our industry from COVID-19 and measures to contain it may be behind us, occurring in mid-April.
We won’t know for sure until we see data for May in next month’s MSR. But EIA’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report (WPSR), shows that demand rebounded by 3.0 million barrels per day (mb/d) as of May 8, from the low point in the week of April 10 (lowest demand for April since 1970). With more than 30 states in various stages of re-opening, demand could be expected to increase along with rising economic activity.
Posted May 12, 2020
Americans everywhere should be concerned about a federal judge’s decision in Montana that could significantly delay the safe and timely construction of new natural gas and oil pipelines across the country.
In a ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris excluded only the “construction of new oil and gas pipelines” from the Nationwide Permit 12 program (NWP 12). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers uses NWP 12 to authorize a number of utility/infrastructure construction and maintenance projects crossing certain streams and wetlands where there is minimal effect on the environment. …
Nationwide Permits are used for projects deemed necessary for the public interest and that have minimal adverse environmental impacts. To prohibit new natural gas and oil projects from utilizing NWP 12 is arbitrary and actually could make it harder to protect the environment.
Posted May 12, 2020
We’ve highlighted the way many Americans and different business sectors, including ours, have helped with relief efforts during the COVID-19 crisis (see here). We’ve also said that natural gas and oil will be leading players as our economy and communities recover.
We’re especially grateful for people on the front lines of the pandemic – doctors, nurses, hospital staffs, first responders, grocery store workers and others who are out there in public spaces every day. API’s new video, “Good Energy,” is our way of saying thanks for what they’re doing to help the rest of us through the crisis and a sign of our industry's commitment to keep supporting them.
Posted May 11, 2020
With the global economy reeling, affordable natural gas is more important than ever.
U.S. emergence as a major energy producer means the natural gas market has never been more flexible, more reliable or more adaptable to changing conditions – including a global pandemic. Millions benefit daily from the use of natural gas in power generation and home heating, and when the world begins to safely return to normal, U.S. natural gas is positioned to balance our economic recovery with environmental progress.
Posted May 8, 2020
Some anti-industry voices – apparently not regular readers of this blog – probably missed Monday’s post discussing the strong link between the economy and energy from natural gas and oil.
Not surprisingly, these are the folks arguing that the current coronavirus-associated market downturn surely means the end is near for U.S. oil. Some have cheered the challenges industry faces, with one tweeting that natural gas and oil jobs (good-paying ones, I’ll add) belong in history’s rubbish bin, comparing them to two of the most odious occupations of the past. Well, no one’s going to confuse social media with a friendly game of bean bag, right?
The trouble with these arguments is they’re grounded purely in ideology and neglect that economic, energy, human progress and development go hand-in-hand. As noted in the earlier post, data and history indicate that while the U.S. natural gas and oil industry is working through significant COVID-19 challenges right now – along with a number of other business and industrial sectors – it is poised to power economic recovery as personal driving and commercial traffic increase (fuels), as businesses reopen (electricity) and as manufacturers ramp up operations (power/feedstocks).
Posted May 5, 2020
News reports of a “flotilla” of oil tankers from Saudi Arabia, sailing to the U.S. with more than 40 million barrels of crude oil in their holds for delivery this month, has many Americans questioning why the U.S. – the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer – imports any oil when oversupply associated with the government response to COVID-19 has a number of U.S. operators hurting financially.
Some think President Trump should send the oil fleet home or impose import tariffs. It’s a new chapter in an old debate over why the U.S. imports oil when our domestic production is among the globe’s leaders. In the case of this imported Saudi oil, the answer has much to do with the supply needs of the U.S. refining system.