Energy Tomorrow Blog
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 19, 2015
Energy & Environment Daily – Supporters of ending the ban on crude oil exports are mounting a full-court press to win over wary lawmakers, while keeping a close eye on global markets and the calendar.
Export backers in recent months have cited both national security and economic arguments as they look to line up the votes to repeal the decades-old ban. Earlier this week at a speech at the U.S. Energy Information Administration annual conference, Continental Resources Inc. founder Harold Hamm warned that maintaining the ban would cause U.S. production to fall by 1 million barrels a day (Greenwire, June 16).
EIA's own data from earlier this month pegged U.S. oil production at 9.6 million barrels per day in May, but predicted that amount to "generally decline" until early 2016 before picking up again.
However, EIA's latest forecast also noted the highest average monthly price of 2015 for the global oil benchmark -- Brent crude, which rose $5 a barrel in May. At the same time, U.S. average gasoline prices rose to $2.72 last month, a 25-cent increase over April and the highest of the year so far.
Posted June 18, 2015
SNL – Accusing OPEC of manipulating crude oil prices, the founder, chairman and CEO of Bakken Shale pioneer Continental Resources Inc. on June 16 detailed arguments for lifting the U.S. ban on oil exports, saying exports would rejuvenate a flat-lining oil industry while lowering domestic gasoline prices.
Speaking to a Washington, D.C.-centric crowd at the U.S. Energy Information Administration's 2015 Energy Conference in Washington, Harold Hamm said the combination of North Dakota's Bakken Shale and Texas' Eagle Ford Shale and "new" Permian shales — "Cowboystan" — provides the nation with more than enough production and reserves to permit exporting light, sweet crude oil.
"Horizontal drilling has transformed" oil and gas production in the U.S. to where the country "reaches energy independence" by 2020 and "we can get to the point where we can produce 20 million barrels per day," more than double what the U.S. has produced in recent months, according to the EIA.
"Only in America" could Cowboystan happen, Hamm said, because of the "three Rs: rigs, rednecks and royalties."
Posted June 1, 2015
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op-ed (Eberhart): ... Since 2000, global LNG demand has grown an estimated 7.6 percent per year. And that rate is expected to increase: Ernst & Young predicts that by 2030 global demand will reach 500 million metric tons, doubling 2012 levels.
At the same time, because of the surge of natural gas from American shale, the United States is awash in the stuff, with domestic natural gas production increasing 41 percent in the past decade alone.
Ten years ago we were an LNG importer. Today we’re the world’s largest natural gas producer.
And with the amount of technically recoverable natural gas in the United States 100 times greater than our current consumption, we have a boon to the economy that is expected to contribute up to 665,000 net jobs and $115 billion to GDP by 2035. We are expected to have enough gas to meet our own needs while also helping to satisfy staggering demand in places like Japan, Korea, India, China and Taiwan.
Clearly, this is an opportunity we don’t want to miss. But a protracted, redundant and expensive approval process could put it just out of reach.
Posted May 29, 2015
Reuters: The U.S. Congress could lift the 40-year old ban on domestic crude oil exports within a year as a drop in gasoline prices and the potential return of Iranian oil to global markets makes it an easier measure for politicians to support, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said on Thursday.
U.S. gasoline prices have dropped since last year along with global crude prices, thanks to strong crude output from the United States, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. On Thursday, the U.S. average for regular gasoline at the pump was nearly $2.74 a gallon, down from $3.65 a year ago, according to the AAA motorist club.
If that remains the case, it has the potential to allay politicians' fears that they could be blamed any rise in gasoline prices if the crude oil export ban was lifted. If talks between six global powers and Tehran on Iran's nuclear program reach a deal on June 30, sanctions on Iran's oil exports could be removed soon after. That could also put pressure on global oil and U.S. gasoline prices.
Posted May 28, 2015
Time: As the battle wages on in Congress over President Barack Obama’s signature trade agreements and the needed fast-track trade promotion authority (TPA), the president would be wise to consider alternatives that would enhance his trade legacy and also further our strategic priorities overseas. While energy is not included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations, many of the same Asian, European, and Latin American partners are calling for greater partnership with the United States on energy issues. By allowing the U.S. to become a stable source of supply to global energy markets, counteracting supply disruptions that will inevitably affect other energy-rich regions, President Obama and Congress can double down on promoting long-term economic growth and reinforcing U.S. foreign policy leadership.
The U.S. can do more with its energy resources to support this strategic vision. A direct way of leveraging this opportunity is to lift the ban on the export of crude oil and accelerate approvals for the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG). A series of policies and laws in the 1970s banned exports of U.S. crude oil with only limited exceptions. This ban is a relic from an age of energy scarcity and should be adjusted to reflect present realities. By working with Congress, and via executive order, the president can start taking steps today to boost U.S. exports.
Posted May 26, 2015
Thinking about American energy, one underappreciated component is our national maritime system – connecting sources of oil with U.S. destinations and also exported domestic resources that help make the U.S. an energy superpower. National Maritime Day last week reminds us of the vital link this system provides in the energy supply chain.
Noteable: America’s marine highway system consists of more than 29,000 nautical miles of navigable waterways – the most extensive system in the world – infrastructure that’s vital to our economy, about 42 percent of all waterborne trade in the U.S. in 2012 was comprised of crude or petroleum products, reflecting the fact the U.S. imports about 10 million barrels of oil per day and more.
Posted May 20, 2015
The Wall Street Journal (Leon Panetta and Stephen Hadley): The United States faces a startling array of global security threats, demanding national resolve and the resolve of our closest allies in Europe and Asia. Iran’s moves to become a regional hegemon, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and conflicts driven by Islamic terrorism throughout the Middle East and North Africa are a few of the challenges calling for steadfast commitment to American democratic principles and military readiness. The pathway to achieving U.S. goals also can be economic—as simple as ensuring that allies and friends have access to secure supplies of energy.
Blocking access to these supplies is the ban on exporting U.S. crude oil that was enacted, along with domestic price controls, after the 1973 Arab oil embargo. The price controls ended in 1981 but the export ban lives on, though America is awash in oil.
The U.S. has broken free of its dependence on energy from unstable sources. Only 27% of the petroleum consumed here last year was imported, the lowest level in 30 years. Nearly half of those imports came from Canada and Mexico. But our friends and allies, particularly in Europe, do not enjoy the same degree of independence. The moment has come for the U.S. to deploy its oil and gas in support of its security interests around the world.
Posted May 18, 2015
Wall Street Journal: BRUSSELS—The European Union is increasing pressure on Washington to include an energy chapter in a planned trans-Atlantic trade deal that would allow U.S. exports of natural gas and oil and reduce the bloc’s dependency on Russia.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s energy chief, said that easing flows of liquefied natural gas and crude oil from the U.S. to the EU is one of the bloc’s goals for the trans-Atlantic trade and investment partnership, or TTIP, that is currently under negotiation. The U.S. has so far resisted an energy chapter in TTIP, but the shale-gas boom in the U.S. and the EU’s trouble with Russia have pushed the issue into focus.
“We believe that the energy chapter in TTIP…could make a quite important contribution to the mutually beneficial trade exchange, but also to the energy security of the EU,” Mr. Sefcovic said.
Posted May 15, 2015
Bloomberg BNA: The chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said May 14 that she is inclined to include standalone legislation that would end the 40-year ban on the export of domestic crude oil as part of a broader energy package the committee is drafting.
“I’d like to have it in there,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told reporters. “It just makes sense in there, as part of the bigger, broader energy updating our architecture.”
The bill, the Energy Supply and Distribution Act of 2015 (S. 1312), released May 13, is scheduled to be the subject of a June 4 hearing on “energy accountability and reform,” along with other bills that could end up in the broader energy package, which is expected to be unveiled later this summer.