Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted May 12, 2015
Wall Street Journal: The U.S. government Monday conditionally approved Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean this summer, removing the biggest remaining obstacle before the company can explore for oil and natural gas in the Arctic’s frigid, isolated waters.
The announcement adds to a mix of decisions by the Obama administration that have restricted and granted new domestic fossil-fuel development.
Though affecting just one company, the approval is a victory for the oil-and-gas industry, which has criticized recent regulations affecting the sector, including tougher requirements on hydraulic fracturing and trains hauling flammable oil. Monday’s approval is tied to regulations proposed by the government in February for Arctic drilling operations off the coast of Alaska that could pave the way for additional companies exploring in the region.
Posted April 30, 2015
It’s noteworthy that there’s bipartisanship in Congress on offshore energy development. Last week a group of Republican U.S. House and Senate members signed onto a letter urging the Interior Department to increase access to energy reserves on the nation’s outer continental shelf. It follows a March 26 letter from Virginia’s two Democratic senators and a March 27 letter from a dozen House Democrats supporting offshore energy development.
Bipartisanship in Washington is quite a rare bird, so it’s significant to see it form around the need to develop domestic offshore energy.
Equally important: Strongly worded concern from the most recent letter’s signers that the draft 2017-2022 plan for oil and natural gas leasing offered by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management not be weakened by removing any of the leasing areas in the proposal.
Posted April 24, 2015
Last summer we posted on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s gentle pushback against various voices that objected to BOEM’s decision to allow safe, carefully regulated seismic testing to map offshore energy reserves in the Atlantic. The pushback apparently prompted some pushback, because last month BOEM reasserted the facts on safe seismic in its online “Science Notes” feature.
As was the case last August, BOEM Chief Environmental Officer William Y. Brown weighed in:
In August 2014, BOEM published a Science Note addressing a few fundamentals about impacts of seismic air gun surveys on marine mammal populations. … BOEM's conclusion regarding the impact of these surveys is in stark contrast with public statements citing BOEM research and asserting that many thousands of marine mammals will be killed or injured through these surveys. For example, one web posting states that “Seismic air gun testing currently being proposed in the Atlantic will injure 138,000 whales and dolphins and disturb millions more, according to government estimates.” This characterization of our conclusion, however, is not accurate; that is actually not what we estimate.
Posted April 22, 2015
Just a few minutes after BP Group Chief Executive Robert Dudley addressed a CERAWeek luncheon crowd on post-Macondo efforts that have seen the company spend more than $44 billion on Gulf response and cleanup, I talked with Center for Offshore Safety Executive Director Charlie Williams about the center’s work to increase the safety culture in offshore energy development. Williams, who was named to his position in March 2012, talked about systems approaches to safety and what the center has learned about offshore safety in its first annual performance report, issued earlier this month. Highlights of the conversation below.
Posted April 20, 2015
A couple of important points on Arctic energy development from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska at an event hosted recently by CSIS:
- The biggest obstacle to U.S. development of its Arctic energy reserves is the U.S.
- Development of Arctic energy resources will occur regardless of whether the United States engages in it.
- A discussion of Arctic energy must give weight to the needs and concerns of Alaskans, many of whom directly depend on energy development for the quality of their lives.
Posted April 17, 2015
BloombergBusiness: The U.S. pumped crude last month at the fastest pace since February 1973, sending March inventories to the highest level in 85 years.
Crude output climbed 13 percent from a year earlier to 9.32 million barrels a day in March, the American Petroleum Institute said in a monthly report Thursday. Production of natural gas liquids, a byproduct of gas drilling, climbed 9.1 percent to 3.05 million, a record for March. The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has unlocked supplies from shale formations in the central U.S.
“Production of both crude oil and natural gas liquids last month remained at the highest levels in decades even as rig counts reached a five-year low,” John Felmy, chief economist at the API in Washington, said in an e-mailed statement.
Posted April 9, 2015
Three zeroes stand out in the first annual performance report by the Center for Offshore Safety (COS), the oil and natural gas industry-led initiative to promote continuous offshore safety improvement following the 2010 Macondo incident: Zero fatalities, zero loss-of-well-control incidents and zero oil spills equal to or greater than 10,000 gallons in Gulf of Mexico operations.
Posted April 8, 2015
NOLA.com: Five years after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the oil and gas industry can respond and contain well blowouts offshore faster than ever before, said Don Armijo, CEO of the Marine Well Containment Co. But he said work remains to make sure containment equipment keeps pace with industry's push to drill in deeper waters.
Armijo, who spoke Tuesday (April 7) at a business lunch at The Roosevelt Hotel in downtown New Orleans, said Marine Well Containment Co. has the equipment to respond to oil gushers in up to 10,000 feet of water. The industry will outgrow that equipment, he said.
"We know there has been drilling proposed in areas much deeper than 10,000 feet of water," Armijo said. "That's the big thing. How do we actually get the technology put together so we can be deeper? These are the kind of things that are on our minds all the time."
Posted April 6, 2015
Statistics in the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Monthly Energy Review for March show U.S. domestic energy production meeting about 89 percent of the country’s total energy demand. That’s up from 84 percent in 2013 and 2012 and reflects a key result of the domestic energy revolution: growing U.S. self-sufficiency.
EIA data shows U.S. energy production as a percentage of total demand. Total energy production (fossil fuels, nuclear electric power and renewables – again, as a percentage of total U.S. energy demand -- was about 69 percent in 2005, and it grew to about 89 percent last year. The share of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) accounted for approximately 55 percent in 2005, growing to about 70 percent last year.
Posted April 6, 2015
MarketWatch: U.S. oil production is on track to reach an annual all-time high by September of this year, according to Rystad Energy.
If production does indeed top out, then supply levels may soon hit a peak as well. That, in turn, could lead to shrinking supplies.
The oil-and-gas consulting-services firm estimates an average 2015 output of 9.65 million barrels a day will be reached in five months — topping the previous peak annual reading of 9.64 million barrels a day in 1970.
Coincidentally, the nation’s crude inventories stand at a record 471.4 million barrels, based on data from U.S. Energy Information Administration, also going back to the 1970s.