Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted October 19, 2020
There’s an interesting subplot the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) recent report on the technology push that’s needed to reach sustainability targets: the empowering, essential role of natural gas.
It bears repeating: Abundant, affordable natural gas is critical to the growth of renewable energy, supplying reliable fuel for power generation when intermittent sources aren’t available. Natural gas and petroleum are used in the manufacturing of renewable technologies and in the development of potential game-changers such as hydrogen.
Even if the United States alone were to meet the aggressive sustainability goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, natural gas and oil would still make up 46% of the energy mix in 2040. Indeed, IEA expects natural gas demand to rebound by almost 3% in the next year, and oil demand should similarly recover within coming years. In another report, IEA indicates that those who herald oil’s demise are doing so prematurely.
Meanwhile, natural gas provides reliable and affordable energy that we will depend on for the foreseeable future. In fact, natural gas will be essential in helping the world reach its sustainability goals.
Posted October 16, 2020
We’ve discussed the significant national impacts of policies touted by some (see here and here) that would effectively stop new natural gas and oil leasing and development on federal lands and waters, potentially weakening U.S. security, killing jobs, raising household energy costs and more.
The national numbers could be big and alarming. Still, most Americans probably can relate more easily to potential impacts where they live, work and raise their families. This post zeroes in on New Mexico. Another state where the potential is large for job losses, reduced economic activity and decreased revenues – for education and other state and local priorities – is Louisiana.
A new ICF analysis shows much is at stake in banning new federal leasing and development for Louisiana, which ranked third in the nation in 2019 natural gas production and ninth in oil production as of June 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Posted October 15, 2020
While objective interpretation of economic and energy data always is challenging, it’s especially difficult in this pandemic-impacted year to determine whether current data signal good news for consumers, the broader economy, and the natural gas and oil industry that is a key driver in the U.S. economy.
That said, API’s new Monthly Statistical Report (MSR) shows progress. Here’s what we see in the latest petroleum data from September, and it says a lot about resilience amid stressful circumstances.
API’s primary data on U.S. petroleum markets for September suggested that crude oil supply and exports rose, while demand – which since 1945 has dropped on average by 4.3% each September following the peak summer driving season – fell by much less than normal. In other words, 2020 didn’t exhibit typical seasonality, since there was less discretionary travel through the COVID-19 pandemic and relatively more driving out of necessity. Thus, it’s not surprising that petroleum consumption held up better than average in September.
Posted October 9, 2020
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris was unequivocal on fracking during the vice presidential debate – declaring the Democratic ticket, if elected, won’t ban hydraulic fracturing in natural gas and oil production.
“Joe Biden will not end fracking, he has been very clear about that,” Harris said. And then: “I will repeat, and the American people know that Joe Biden will not ban fracking. That is a fact. That is a fact.” This was soon underscored on Harris’ Twitter handle.
The clear Biden-Harris pledge on fracking indicates they know that jobs, economic growth, national security and environmental progress are linked to domestic natural gas and oil – largely made possible by hydraulic fracturing (used for 95% of new U.S. wells today).
Posted October 8, 2020
The stakes in bad energy policy proposals – to ban new natural gas and oil leasing on federal lands and waters and/or fracking – are underscored in a new U.S. Department of Energy report that details the economic and security benefits of robust domestic energy development. ...
Much of the DOE report reinforces what we’ve been saying, that misguided proposals to effectively end new natural gas and oil production in areas under federal control – including in the Gulf of Mexico – and/or to ban fracking, responsible for about 95% of new wells in the U.S. today, put the benefits outlined in the DOE report at risk. Weakened security, lost jobs, reduced economic output.
Posted October 6, 2020
ESG – environmental, social and governance – covers the way that businesses achieve strong performance on a range of sustainability issues. Below, Dr. Aaron Padilla, API manager of climate and ESG policy, explains the natural gas and oil industry’s focus on ESG as integral to the way its members conduct themselves in developing energy, as well as the way stewardship on these issues is helping define the modern industry’s identity in 2020 and beyond.
A little background: Dr. Padilla leads API’s work to determine and represent the natural gas and oil industry’s own initiatives and its public policy positions on ESG and climate issues. In the past 13 years, he has worked in 30 countries across six continents. Prior to joining API, he worked for Chevron as a senior advisor for global issues and public policy. Dr. Padilla is a Marshall Scholar and Truman Scholar, and he completed his M.Phil. and Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge and B.A. at Stanford University.
Q: How does ESG apply to the natural gas and oil industry?
A: ESG is often interchangeable with the term “sustainability” and encompasses several environmental, social and safety issues. There’s climate change and energy, there’s environment – which covers air and water and waste and other elements of environmental performance – and then there’s safety, health and security, which obviously are a key focus of our industry. … And then there’s social performance more broadly, and that encompasses community relations and responsibility, that companies have to respect human rights. All of those issues fit under ESG. The governance part is the way companies have systematic processes and procedures and ways of managing the risks and opportunities associated with these environmental, social and safety issues.
Posted October 2, 2020
Growing natural gas use in the U.S. power sector continues to be an important factor in decreasing the country’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, a critical greenhouse gas in the climate conversation.
This is seen in the latest U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) emissions report, which showed that these CO2 emissions decreased 2.8% in 2019 compared to 2018, largely thanks to changes in the electricity fuel mix.
Coal-related emissions declined 15% last year, reflecting a decline in coal’s share of U.S. power generation (falling from 27% to 23%). Natural gas is the leading fuel for generating electricity, its share of the mix rising to 38.4% in 2019 from 35% in 2018. (Nuclear accounted for 19.6% of generation while 9% was generated by wind and solar). Coal’s downward trend continued and even accelerated through the first two quarters of 2020, while natural gas’ share in the generating mix remained steady despite falling overall power demand.
Posted September 30, 2020
Sifting through what was a rollicking presidential debate Tuesday night, searching for important takeaways … Let’s look at the discussion near the end of the event that focused on climate, energy policy and energy jobs – in which safe and responsible natural gas and oil production here at home is a critical player.
As was accurately noted during the debate, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector are at their lowest levels in a generation – primarily because of growing use of natural gas to fuel electricity generation. Natural gas is the leading fuel for U.S. power generation and is projected to continue leading for decades to come.
Posted September 30, 2020
The wild thing about the electricity grid is that you can see when the laws of man succumb to the laws of physics.
California provided a case study in late August. The state’s first rolling blackouts in nearly two decades spotlighted its mandates for how much electricity certain technologies can provide. There was lots of blame to go around and, while there is no single culprit behind the blackouts, what happened showed just how vital natural gas generation is to maintain a fully functioning grid, because of its reliability and unique operating characteristics.
Posted September 25, 2020
A call for environmental justice (EJ) is featured in U.S. House climate legislation being debated in Congress. While the EJ section of House Democrats’ climate plan focuses on environmental goals, one part calls for an energy justice and democracy program at the U.S. Energy Department to reduce energy poverty and to ensure communities have equitable access to energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Building or expanding America’s natural gas pipeline network is key to reducing energy poverty in the U.S. – seeing that Americans, no matter where they live, can get affordable natural gas for home heating, cooking and other uses. Thanks to abundant, affordable natural gas, U.S. power sector emissions of carbon dioxide are at their lowest levels in a generation. Increasing infrastructure capacity, increasing natural gas use, supports this beneficial trend.
Unfortunately, this kind of energy fairness isn’t a reality everywhere in the U.S. Some Americans have no choice but to use wood-burning fireplaces or stoves to heat their homes, due to the lack of safe, reliable pipelines and other infrastructure to get energy where consumers want and need it.