Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted March 7, 2019
In this post last week we explained how alternative measures, approved by federal officials, may be used to comply with the 2016 well control rule, as well as all regulatory requirements associated with offshore oil and natural gas development. …
Now the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is chiming in – not surprising, since the agency’s integrity was besmirched. In a letter to members of Congress this week, Lars Herbst, BSEE’s Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf regional director, called the regulatory provision for alternative procedures or equipment “long-standing,” having been granted by the previous administration as well as the current one. Herbst writes that “zero” waivers have been granted by BSEE regarding the well control rule.
Posted March 5, 2019
The International Energy Agency’s Fatih Birol regularly heralds the positive impacts of the American shale energy revolution (see here, here and here). All good, but U.S. shale’s global impact is just now starting to be felt, IEA’s executive director said last week.
During a global markets update at the U.S. Energy Department with Secretary Rick Perry, Birol said the United States will be responsible for about two-thirds of the growth in the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) export market. Of course, this reflects the abundance of domestic natural gas, largely produced from shale formations. Big-time global impact lies ahead, Birol said. Add to that environmental and climate progress, which we’ll get to in a bit.
Certainly, there’s every reason to believe U.S. natural gas and oil can meet or exceed global expectations. Soaring U.S. crude oil production has increased global supply, supporting the stability of global markets – while reducing weekly U.S. crude imports to their lowest level in 23 years (as of Feb. 22), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Posted February 28, 2019
Months before the federal offshore well control rule went into effect in July 2016, API told Congress the safety regulation could actually increase risks associated with offshore oil and natural gas development – that its rigid requirements could stifle innovation and thwart the effectiveness of new operational technologies.
The 2016 rule is an example of “prescriptive” regulation, a one-size-fits-all approach that requires certain processes, procedures and tests. It was and is the wrong approach for offshore safety – mainly because every oil and natural gas well has different characteristics: geology, depth, water pressure and temperature and other variables that factor into developing the best safety plan for a particular well.
In that context offshore operators seek government-approved alternative compliance paths – which they’ve done since the rule’s launch in 2016, when the Obama administration was in charge of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the overseer of offshore safety. Indeed, the requests show the rule needs fixing.
Posted February 26, 2019
When the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was announced last fall, we pointed out that it would be good for North American energy security and continue flourishing energy trade between the United States and its neighbors by providing market access and zero tariffs for U.S. natural gas and oil and related products.
The agreement would sustain and expand the gains made under its predecessor, NAFTA, which created a North American energy market, helped make the U.S. more energy secure and benefited U.S. consumers.
Congress should approve USMCA as soon as possible to lock in the critically important energy relationship between the U.S., Mexico and Canada – as well as the general flows of goods and services so vital to good economic health in this country.
Posted February 22, 2019
A big win this week for U.S. liquid natural gas exports: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of the Calcasieu Pass liquid natural gas (LNG) export facility in Louisiana – marking an end to a two-year logjam on LNG export approvals while boosting American global energy leadership and signaling opportunity to European allies who’ve been beholden to Russia for natural gas.
The $4.5 billion Calcasieu Pass project near Cameron Parish will be able to export 10 million metric tons per annum of LNG per year. Venture Global first applied for FERC approval for the facility in 2015. About a dozen other proposed facilities await FERC approval. Now, perhaps, the end’s in sight.
Posted February 21, 2019
Update: Middleborough, Massachusetts, has joined parts of New York’s Westchester County on a list of places in the Northeast U.S. where they’ve announced moratoriums on new natural gas service.
As is true in Westchester, there’s not enough pipeline infrastructure to deliver natural gas to everyone in Middleborough who wants it. No question, the situation in Middleborough is unfortunate – as it is in sections of Westchester County affected by the natural gas moratorium there.
Blame short-sighted, agenda-driven opposition to constructing new natural gas pipelines or expand existing ones. Natural gas is near enough – in the Marcellus shale play in Pennsylvania that also extends into New York state.
Posted February 20, 2019
Over API’s 100-year history – we complete our first century next month – we’ve created more than 700 standards to enhance the safety, efficiency and sustainability of natural gas and oil operations. The newest of these updates Recommended Practice 54 (RP 54), which sets procedures to advance and maintain a safe and healthy work environment in drilling and well servicing operations.
Specifically, the new edition of RP 54 (first developed in 1981) includes a section on flowback operations, which is important for safe well testing. It also includes revised requirements for process hazard assessment for facilities and sites and introduces formal risk assessments and expanded provisions for offshore operations.
Posted February 13, 2019
The Green New Deal is getting quite a bit of attention in Washington right now, and naturally, people want to know what the natural gas and oil industry thinks about the proposal to revolutionize America’s economy and way of life – since it appears the plan aims to eliminate natural gas and oil, the nation’s leading fuels, right when there’s record energy demand by consumers.
My reaction is that any proposal that would fundamentally reorder American energy – and the way of life in this country – should first be measured by its impacts on American consumers, the economy and the country’s opportunity for future prosperity.
Especially this one. There’s little question that GND would significantly alter America as we know it.
Posted February 12, 2019
Recent tweet from the American Enterprise Institute’s Mark Perry includes a chart that vividly illustrates one of the biggest benefits of the U.S. energy revolution. First, it plots soaring U.S. net petroleum imports, which peaked at 60.3 percent in 2005, and then logs the plunge to just 12.1 percent last year. The thing that caught my eye in Perry’s tweet is that the time frame for his graph, 1957-2018, is pretty much the span of this blogger’s life.
Most importantly, in one generation, the United States has gone from steadily growing energy dependency to a nation that’s largely in control of its energy destiny. It’s a turnabout many of Americans never thought possible. Remarkable. Breathtaking. Or, as Perry tweets, amazing.
Posted February 8, 2019
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s new report, “The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2019 to 2029,” says what we’ve been saying for some time now – the administration’s tariff policies are a drag on the broader economy.
CBO projects that “the recent changes in trade policy in the United States and its trading-partner countries will reduce the level of U.S. real GDP by about 0.1 percent by 2022
Now, 0.1 percent might not sound like a lot over that time period, but potentially we’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars subtracted from the economy. Dean Foreman, API chief economist, says it’s particularly concerning in the context of an economy that’s decelerating.