Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted August 7, 2014
Increased domestic energy production means Americans are buying less foreign oil and gas, and selling more of it overseas. That has tamped down the trade deficit in recent years, helping along an economy that continues to recover from the Great Recession.
Some say the deficit could be slashed further if the US were to ease energy export restrictions put in place to protect US consumers from global energy shocks. But such a move would have impacts that go beyond the country’s balance of trade. Critics of oil and gas exports say they will raise energy prices at home, and increase the environmental impacts of extracting and burning fossil fuels.
Either way, a renaissance in oil and gas production is already changing the way officials, analysts, and economists look at the future of the US economy.
Posted July 21, 2014
Recent Improvements in Petroleum Trade Balance Mitigate U.S. Trade Deficit
EIA Today in Energy: Since the mid-1970s, the United States has run a deficit in merchandise trade, meaning that payments for imports exceeded receipts for exports. This large and growing deficit on the merchandise trade balance reached a maximum of $883 billion in the second quarter of 2008.
As a result of the recession, dramatic declines of imports in excess of exports during the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 reduced the merchandise trade deficit by 49%, to $449 billion in the second quarter of 2009. This trend of declining imports resulted in the lowest quarterly deficit level since early 2002. The merchandise trade deficit then increased to $686 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013, with much of the difference from the 2008 level ($131 billion) attributable to a $158 billion increase in net exports of crude oil and petroleum products.
Posted June 30, 2014
Washington Post Editorial: Quietly but wisely, the Commerce Department has decided to allow the first exports of U.S. crude oil since Congress imposed a ban on such sales (except to Canada) in the 1970s. To be sure, the agency’s ruling amounts to redefining crude in a way that applies only to a form of ultralight oil that U.S. refineries are ill-equipped to process. The executive branch couldn’t do much more than that to expand crude exports without congressional permission. Still, Commerce’s move is a step in the right direction because resuming oil sales abroad could help the U.S. economy reap the full fruits of the shale revolution that has propelled this country back into the top ranks of global oil and gas production.
The origins of the ban lie in the long-gone political and economic issues of the Nixon era. Specifically, the United States banned oil exports in response to the declining domestic production and Middle East supply shocks of that time, which, together with the then-existing system of U.S. price controls, made it seem rational to keep U.S.-produced oil at home rather than let it flow to the highest bidder on the world market. The world has changed dramatically since then; with U.S. production booming, this country is in a position to move the world market. Yet some still defend the export ban on the grounds that it holds down the price of crude to U.S. refineries and, by extension, the price of gasoline at U.S. pumps.
A new report by IHS Global explains why that thinking is outmoded.
Posted May 22, 2014
Energy and economic prosperity go together – on that most Americans agree. New polling finds strong majorities ofregistered voters connect exporting natural gas and new job creation, trade deficit reduction and a stronger economy.
The results mirror findings in other recent surveys on energy infrastructure investment and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. All together, they tell decision makers to choose pro-energy development and investment policies to put more Americans to work and to make America stronger in the world today.
Posted May 20, 2014
Last week’s finding by federal regulators that a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporting project in southern Maryland would pose “no significant impact” on the environmental is great news for the local and state economy, as well as for the United States, when it comes to broader trade and economic benefits from exporting U.S. LNG. Let’s hope the commission quickly follows up to approve the $3.8 billion project at Cove Point, Md.
Diane Leopold, president of Dominion Energy, which owns the existing LNG import facility (left) where the export project is planned:
“This marks another important step forward in a project that has very significant economic benefits and helps two allied nations in their efforts to increase their energy security and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. … The Cove Point LNG facility has been in existence for nearly 40 years and this makes the most of existing facilities. This project will be built within the existing footprint and fence line of an industrial site. There is no need for additional pipelines, storage tanks or permanent piers, thus limiting its impact and making an environmental assessment appropriate.”
Posted May 16, 2014
Bloomberg: Dominion Resources (D) Inc.’s plan to export liquefied natural gas cleared a U.S. environmental review, a key step toward final approval as supporters in Congress seek to expedite overseas shipments of the fuel.
U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval of Dominion’s proposed Cove Point project on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay would have “no significant impact” on the environment, as long as proper measures are taken, the staff said today in an environmental assessment.
The full commission is scheduled to issue a final decision on Cove Point by Aug. 13. Cheniere Energy Inc. (LNG)’s Sabine Pass is the only U.S. project so far to win approval from the FERC and Energy Department.
Posted May 15, 2014
Another benefit of America’s energy renaissance is seen in the competitive edge North American refiners are gaining because of lower feedstock costs, resulting from surging domestic crude oil and natural gas production.
The latest “This Week in Petroleum” report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says that U.S. and Canadian refiners are in a stronger position relative to European counterparts because of lower costs for domestic crude oil and natural gas, from which they make a variety of value-added finished products.
Posted April 14, 2014
Posted April 10, 2014
Legislation that would accelerate U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) – by approving a backlog of more than 20 export permits pending with the Energy Department and expediting future permit requests for export to World Trade Organization members – cleared an important hurdle in the U.S. House this week.
“In the last few weeks, new proposals have won bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, and we are optimistic that members will come together on efforts to harness the full economic and strategic power of America’s energy exports. The U.S. is the world’s top producer of natural gas, and allies around the globe are looking to America for leadership on energy issues. Now is the time to tear down our own bureaucratic hurdles to trade, create thousands of new American jobs, and strengthen our position as an energy superpower.”
Posted March 31, 2014
A new study by ICF International makes the case for lifting trade restrictions that prevent the export of U.S. crude oil – consumer savings, job creation, domestic production growth and more:
- $5.8 billion in consumer savings a year, on average, between 2015 and 2035 due to falling costs of gasoline, heating oil and diesel fuel.
- Up to 300,000 additional jobs created in 2020, both due to higher oil production and U.S. consumers having more money to spend on goods and services.
- As much as a 500,000 barrels-per-day rise in domestic oil production in 2020.
- A $22 billion decrease in the U.S. trade deficit in 2020.
- Economic growth totaling as much as $38 billion in 2020, with an average GDP increase of up to $27 billion a year through 2035.
- An additional $15 billion to $17 billion invested in domestic exploration, development and production between 2015 and 2020.
- An increase of as much as $13.5 billion in federal, state and local government revenues in 2020.