Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted January 11, 2021
Making energy more affordable for Americans is one of the biggest benefits of the U.S. natural gas and oil revolution. Over the past decade or so, abundant domestic reserves, unlocked by modern hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, lowered consumer energy costs – even as household expenses for health care, education and food increased.
The challenge for everyone is not to take affordable, reliable energy for granted. Not too long ago the country was beset with rising annual costs for gasoline, ever-growing oil imports and dwindling domestic natural gas supplies. The natural gas situation was so alarming, lots of smart people believed the U.S. would need to build natural gas import facilities to help meet domestic demand.
Again, the shale energy revolution changed that storyline. We have plentiful supplies of natural gas here at home and increased energy security. The U.S. has become a leading natural gas exporter and was on track in 2020 to be a net exporter of petroleum and total energy on an annual basis for the first time in 60 years. That’s what energy security looks like.
This leads back to consumer benefits – reflected in a new U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report showing that last year natural gas prices were at their lowest levels in decades.
Posted December 30, 2020
What a year. Thinking of those who lost their lives or were seriously ill and the continuing hardships from the pandemic, such as lost jobs and financial setbacks, 2020 can’t end soon enough.
Like other industries, ours faced steep challenges as it played an important role in helping the country battle the virus and supported economic recovery. There was added meaning to the word “resilience,” and our country is better off because our industry proved its staying power.
Think of it this way: Imagine the country in the middle of a global pandemic, trying to regain its footing, but without sufficient domestic natural gas and oil – or a modern, technologically advanced industry to develop that energy for consumers, businesses and manufacturers.
Posted December 1, 2020
The year has brought extreme and at times contradictory information about the economy and our industry, making it increasingly difficult to determine whether the economic recovery has gained firm footing and ultimately traction, in which natural gas and oil will play a key role.
Importantly, we currently see well-grounded pillars for expected U.S. and global economic growth over the next two years – personal consumption expenditures and investment that generally represent the majority of GDP. These could kickstart new economic growth and prosperity that will not only require but fundamentally be enabled by oil and natural gas.
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 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.
Posted September 24, 2020
Four observations about California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order requiring that by 2035 all new cars sold in the state must be zero-emission vehicles – as well as his push for halting fracking in the state:
1. The governor's executive order could seriously impact middle-class Californians.
2. Seriously, a zero-emissions mandate in a state that has struggled to keep the lights on?
3. There's rhetoric and there's reality.
4. State natural gas and oil production is being targeted.
Posted July 30, 2020
There’s a basic principle in play in recent news developments in Massachusetts and Ohio – that public energy policy should serve people, not the other way around. In both states, access to clean natural gas, for affordable, reliable energy, means benefits for consumers.
Start in Massachusetts, where the state attorney general struck down the town of Brookline’s bylaw that would have barred new residences from installing natural gas infrastructure for space heating and hot water – mimicking similar restrictions imposed by Berkeley, California. That doesn’t necessarily mean Massachusetts AG Maura Healey has an affinity for natural gas; her decision was based on the primacy of state law and regulations.
No matter, consumers win. And in the process this point is elevated: Public bodies should ensure that dependable, affordable energy is available to consumers – instead of erecting artificial, market-distorting barriers to service.
Posted July 21, 2020
Through the recent COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shocks to energy markets around the world, U.S. natural gas has remained a relatively bright spot.
Record low prices have benefitted consumers, and at the same time many producers dedicated to natural gas in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Louisiana and East Texas have remained viable as cutbacks in oil and associated natural gas from other regions have taken effect. And now about 90% of U.S. drilling for natural gas is concentrated in these regions, that is Appalachia and the Haynesville areas.
The drilling activity has reflected two fundamental observations. The first is that, according to BTU Analytics, the recent breakeven price – that is, the Henry Hub wholesale market price needed to at least break even in drilling a new well – on average has remained near market prices despite COVID-19, a relatively warm winter and broad financial market concerns. The second observation is that natural gas well productivity, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, were resilient after some unexplained variation at the beginning of the year.
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.
Posted March 11, 2020
Several states are taking the lead to promote electric vehicles (EVs), and they’re not the states that produce them. From California and Oregon to New Jersey and Maryland, their promotions are mainly efforts intended to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
But even with large state incentives, are consumers onboard?