Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted May 10, 2018
The facts that crude oil prices are up 9 percent since the end of March and that crude oil currently accounts for 57 percent of the consumer’s price for gasolinemean that consumers have felt the impact at the pump of relatively large and sudden changes. As domestic crude oil prices recently increased above $70 per barrel for the first time since November 2014, let’s revisit current oil market fundamentals and other factors that have elevated prices.
By understanding the drivers of prices, American consumers may be more aware of how U.S. policy outcomes – such as more domestic natural gas and oil production, a strong U.S. dollar, low price inflation, avoidance of tariffs, quotas and other protectionist measures that undermine free trade, and peaceful international relations – could help put downward pressure on crude prices that ultimately benefits consumers.
Posted March 21, 2016
Interesting weekend remarks from the Energy Department’s deputy secretary on U.S. oil and natural gas exports to Europe – especially so because DOE is the key federal agency in allowing domestic liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects to proceed.
Energy Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall was speaking at a forum hosted by the German Marshall Fund in Brussels, Belgium, when she discussed the dramatic change in energy markets caused by the U.S. shale revolution. Sherwood-Randall:
“What’s really changed in the global energy landscape is American abundance of supply of both oil and gas. … We are now poised to become significant exporters of both oil and natural gas. We began the export of natural gas just last month, and we are also beginning to export oil.”
Posted February 24, 2016
Two separate but related news items last week demonstrate the economic promise and geopolitical significance of America’s natural gas export opportunity.
The first headline, “U.S. LNG Set to Hit Global Market,” signifies a landmark moment in America’s trajectory from energy scarcity to abundance. The export facility covered in the article – Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass in Cameron Parish, La. – actually opened as a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in 2008. Just two years later in September 2010, it became the first U.S. facility to apply for a Department of Energy permit to export LNG. After a decade that saw U.S. natural gas production jump 45 percent – and following an extensive review process – Sabine Pass is set to ship its first cargo to Europe.
Posted July 14, 2015
A potential nuclear deal with Iran that would permit the Iranians to resume exporting crude oil to global markets – short-term and long-term – underscores questions about our own oil export policies. Here are two: What are the implications of Iranian crude oil exports for U.S. production? And: When will our government lift de facto sanctions against the export of U.S. oil?
Bloomberg reports that Iran’s oil minister says the country can increase exports by 500,000 barrels a day as soon as economic sanctions are lifted, then an additional 500,000 barrels a day in the following six months. Richard Nephew of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy is less optimistic about that kind of ramp-up. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has said Iran could reach 700,000 barrels per day by the end of 2016.
The point is, if there’s a nuclear deal that lifts economic sanctions against Iran, Iranian oil will be getting to market.
Posted June 22, 2015
Wall Street Journal (Hamm) -- Amid news of a pending nuclear deal with Iran, some OPEC countries have struck agreements with refineries in Asia to avoid losing market share when Iranian oil comes back on the market. If U.S. policy will allow Iran to export oil, shouldn’t it allow America to do the same? Clearly, our allies would rather get their oil from America than Iran if given the choice. But without the ability to export, the U.S. is not even in the game.
Congress must lift the ban on U.S. crude oil exports. The ban is a terrible relic of the Nixon era that harms the American economy. As Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) has pointed out, restrictions on oil trade effectively amount to domestic sanctions. Combined with a mismatch in refining capacity, the ban on oil exports is creating a significant discount for U.S. light oil at no benefit to anyone except refiners and their foreign ownership. It has cost U.S. states, producers and royalty owners $125 billion in lost revenue in four years, according to industry estimates.
Foreign producers are using their heavy oil—and the U.S. ban on exports—as a weapon against America. Over the past three decades countries such as Venezuela, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Canada have overtaken U.S. refining capacity to run their heavy crude in American refineries and capture a large portion of the U.S. market. Without firing a shot, they have disadvantaged American oil and interests.
Posted June 18, 2015
Here’s the first of a series of posts sparked by speeches and presentations at this week’s U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) energy conference. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz set the tone for EIA’s event, noting that the U.S. faces a set of energy challenges, vulnerabilities and opportunities. At the heart of the discussion: America’s energy resurgence. Moniz:
“By almost any simple measure for sure, our energy security position has been enhanced a great deal over the last several years: No. 1 producer of oil and gas, oil imports in terms of a fraction of crude plus products back at 1952 levels. In fact, our production increasing so substantially in the last five years that it has become a critical factor in global pricing dynamics, challenging decades-old assumptions by OPEC, for example. We have mothballed LNG import facilities are being repurposed for exports, likely to begin next year, and, frankly, likely to see us in several years at least become one of the major LNG players on the global scene.”
Moniz credited the energy revolution for rejuvenating U.S. manufacturing, particularly among energy-intensive industries that are capitalizing on affordable natural gas for power and/or as a feedstock for a variety of products. America’s increased use of natural gas also has helped lead U.S. efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, he said.
In all of the above, the secretary certainly makes good point. Thanks to innovative, advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the U.S. is the world’s energy-producing leader. America is stronger and its citizens are more prosperous because we’re producing more of the energy we use right here at home.
Posted June 16, 2015
Platts – Stabilizing crude oil prices and falling drilling costs could soon boost US production by hundreds of thousands of barrels per day, an upstream oil and gas economist with the US Energy Information Administration, said Monday.
"We're starting to see a turn in production," Grant Nulle said during a panel discussion at EIA's annual conference. "Conditions are conducive for this to happen."
While recent EIA data has shown production declines at existing wells have outpaced production from new wells, a rebound is likely as operators focus on the most efficient wells and look to increase well completions amid falling costs and continued availability of capital, Nulle said.
In a recent survey of 85,000 wells drilled between 2012 and 2014, initial production rates have roughly doubled, he said.
Posted May 1, 2015
API President and CEO Jack Gerard joined members of Congress and others at a Capitol Hill press conference calling for an end to the United States’ 1970s-era ban on the export of domestic crude oil. Gerard:
“We've come to the point where we have a limitation on our ability to continue to grow this renaissance, to create good-paying jobs, to help stimulate the domestic economy. Today, there are few public policy changes that would bring as much economic value to our domestic economy than lifting the ban on crude exports.”
Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar said other Democrats will support legislation to end the export ban:
“I think we are going to get there. Once we get this on the floor, you’re going to see that we’re going to get more support from the Democratic side. … I’ll continue working with my friends across the aisle to make sure that this outdated ban on oil exports is lifted.”
Posted April 7, 2015
Following on yesterday’s post on increased domestic energy production that is backing out imports, we see that the U.S. remained No. 1 in the world in the production of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The government agency responsible for quantifying all things energy says that U.S. oil and natural gas production has been trending higher than the output of Russia and Saudi Arabia, the second- and third-largest producers:
Since 2008, U.S. petroleum production has increased by more than 11 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), with dramatic growth in Texas and North Dakota. Despite the 50% decline in crude oil prices that occurred in the second half of last year, U.S. petroleum production still increased by 3 quadrillion Btu (1.6 million barrels per day) in 2014. Natural gas production—largely from the eastern United States—increased by 5 quadrillion Btu (13.9 billion cubic feet per day) over the past five years. Combined hydrocarbon output in Russia increased by 3 quadrillion Btu and in Saudi Arabia by 4 quadrillion Btu over the past five years.
Posted March 3, 2015
ConocoPhillips Chairman and CEO Ryan Lance applies some uncomplicated logic to the question of whether the United States should lift its 1970s-era ban on exporting domestic crude oil. “We should treat crude oil like any other potential product export,” Lance said at an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
As he did during a January visit to Washington, Lance laid out compelling reasons for lifting the crude oil export ban: An abundance of domestic light crude produced from shale is mismatched for a U.S. refining sector that’s largely configured to process heavier crudes, exporting crude would give producers access to the global market, helping to sustain domestic production and U.S. industry jobs, and exports would add supply to the global market, helping stabilize it and affording the U.S. new opportunities to exert positive influences in the world.