Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted April 27, 2015
ConocoPhillips Chairman and CEO Ryan Lance talks with Energy Tomorrow about key industry challenges ahead and details the case for ending the United States’ 1970s-era ban on the export of domestic crude oil. Lance is a petroleum engineer with 28 years of oil and natural gas industry experience in senior management and technical positions with ConocoPhillips, predecessor Phillips Petroleum and various divisions of ARCO. His past executive assignments with ConocoPhillips have included responsibility for international exploration and production, regional responsibility at various times for Asia, Africa, the Middle East and North America, and responsibility for technology, major projects, downstream strategy, integration and specialty functions. He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in petroleum engineering from Montana Tech in 1984.
Q: Given the current downturn in oil prices, talk about the key decisions ahead for the industry over the next 10 years.
Lance: We foresee several key decisions ahead for companies in our industry. First they have to determine their strategic direction. Industry has transitioned from an era of limited resource access to one that, due to the productivity of North American shale and the potential for shale development elsewhere, offers a new abundance of resources. Although many of the best conventional resource areas remain off limits in traditional exporting countries, shale and other unconventional resources offer immense potential in many areas that are accessible. So companies now have an unprecedented range of options – pursuing North American shale, international shale, deepwater development, LNG, oil sands, international exploration, and so on. Companies must determine where they have or can build competitive advantages and leverage relationships with host nations, potential partners and suppliers, and identify the long-term opportunities best for them.
Posted April 22, 2015
Today, the United States leads in petroleum products, refining and natural gas production, and we’re on track to lead in the production of crude oil; facts reinforced by last week’s EIA Annual Energy Outlook.
The report confirmed that our nation is more energy secure than ever before. And it said in part that domestic production of natural gas is projected to grow through 2040 eventually reaching 35.45 tcf; and domestic oil production is projected to exceed 10 mbd in a few years and remain at that level through 2030. Keeping pace with our nation’s increased development of our energy resources are the 139 operating refineries that produce more fuel than ever before and support roughly 540,000 good paying jobs and 1.9 percent of our nation’s economy.
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 16, 2015
For months we’ve argued that new federal regulation targeting methane emissions from energy development is unnecessary and could undermine the success industry initiatives already are achieving. Howard Feldman, API’s senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs, from earlier this year:
“Methane is the product we bring to market. We sell methane – that is natural gas. That’s what we want to sell. … We don’t need regulation to tell us to do that because we are incentivized to do that. It’s not a byproduct or something. It is the product we’re selling. … We’re developing these technologies because we want to more and more capture natural gas.”
This is exactly what’s happening, as new data from EPA shows.
Posted April 16, 2015
The Wall Street Journal: A former White House economic adviser is calling for changes to a 2005 law mandating increased use of alternative fuels in the nation’s transportation supply, adding a key voice to a growing chorus of people who say the policy is not working.
In a report published Thursday, Harvard University professor Jim Stock, who served on President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers in 2013 and 2014, proposes several reforms to the biofuels mandate, known as the renewable fuel standard, including some requiring congressional approval.
The report adds to a growing body of politicians and experts who are questioning the law’s effectiveness amid regulatory uncertainty and lower oil prices.
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 April 7, 2015
BloombergView: It's a pernicious bit of American mythology that is used to justify the law against domestic oil producers selling their crude overseas: The U.S. needs "energy independence." Never mind that the law actually undermines this goal, or that the goal itself is practically impossible to achieve. It's the wrong goal. What the U.S. should be striving for is not independence, but energy security.
The story behind the myth goes something like this: If the U.S. doesn't hoard all its oil, then it can't hope to attain energy independence. And until it does that, it has to keep buying oil from politically unstable or unfriendly regimes. Therefore U.S. consumers must tolerate volatile prices for gasoline and heating oil.
The tale is false, but it brushes against one truth: When instability in other countries affects the price of oil, the U.S. economy can suffer. Just last month, the price jumped almost 5 percent when Saudi bombs began to fall on rebel targets in Yemen. Such unpredictable spikes make it difficult for many U.S. businesses to plan ahead, and this means less investment and less hiring.
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.
Posted April 3, 2015
A couple of data points and some observations on energy security.
First data point: The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that last year the United States enjoyed the largest volume increase in crude oil production since record keeping began in 1900. That’s right, the largest increase in 115 years!
Production of crude (including lease condensate) increased during 2014 by 1.2 million barrels per day to 8.7 million barrels/day. EIA says that on a percentage basis 2014’s output increased 16.2 percent, the highest growth rate since 1940.
You can thank shale and fracking.