Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted August 25, 2014
Worth reading: this presentation on the facts about offshore seismic surveying from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in its August “Science Notes” newsletter. It’s prefaced by William Y. Brown, chief environmental officer for BOEM, who focuses on the public discussion that has followed the agency’s July announcement that it would allow safe seismic testing off portions of the Atlantic coast:
I wanted to take some time to clear up a few misperceptions about the bureau's decision and what it means. As a scientist who has spent a good part of my career working in non-governmental environmental organizations and in industry, I understand and appreciate advocacy. At the same time, I believe that everyone benefits by getting the facts right.
Posted August 21, 2014
There’s much good to report from this week’s federal offshore drilling lease auction for the western Gulf of Mexico. But we can do better.
The good: nearly $110 million in apparent high bids over 81 blocks covering more than 430,000 acres, according to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The bid total represents a moderate increase over last year’s western Gulf sale that generated slightly more than $102 million in bids. BOEM estimates the sale eventually could yield 116 million to 200 million barrels of oil and 538 billion cubic feet (bcf) to 938 bcf of natural gas.
Broadly speaking, the fact that the federal government conducted an offshore lease sale is in itself encouraging. Development of vast offshore oil and natural gas reserves starts with leasing areas for exploration. That’s where we can do better. More sales are needed to begin the process of finding and developing offshore energy on the outer continental shelf, 87 percent of which is off limits by policy.
Posted August 20, 2014
Offshore producers say safety precautions have improved dramatically since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and argue no areas should be ruled out as the Interior Department considers offshore drilling sites through 2022.
“Decisions on areas to include in the 2017-2022 [outer continental shelf] leasing program will have impacts well into the future,” a coalition of 11 industry groups wrote in comments filed to Interior. “Therefore, we believe that BOEM should fully consider all areas for inclusion in the program and keep as many areas as feasible in the draft proposed program.”
Posted August 13, 2014
America’s energy revolution is reality. Thanks to vast reserves of oil and natural gas in shale and other tight-rock formations, developed with advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the United States is the world’s leading producer of natural gas and by next year could be No. 1 in oil production.
Yet, the dramatic shift in the U.S. energy picture – from one of scarcity and limits just a few years ago to abundance and opportunity – could be just a memory without policies and actions to sustain it. Key to keeping the domestic energy revolution going is offshore development. The ability to explore for and develop new offshore oil and natural gas reserves is vital to maintaining America’s status as an energy superpower – a point grasped by a strong majority of U.S. voters in recent polling.
That’s the main thrust of official comments just submitted by API and 10 other associations to officials who are assembling the next federal five-year offshore leasing plan that will establish where the federal government plans to lease offshore blocks for exploration and development from 2017 to 2022.
Posted August 4, 2014
Members of the U.S. House and Senate are weighing in with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on the administration’s new five-year oil and natural gas leasing program, and the message is fairly simple: open more of the outer continental shelf (OCS) for exploration and development.
Interior has begun work on the new leasing program that will cover 2017 to 2022. The plan is critical to offshore development because it lists areas where the federal government could hold auctions for oil and natural gas drilling leases. It lets energy companies know where to concentrate research efforts that guide bids on specific lease blocks. Currently, 87 percent of the offshore area under federal control is closed to development.
Posted July 30, 2014
The quest to encourage better behavior from Russia continues. President Obama and the European Union this week announced new sanctions to protest Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, measures that focus on Russia’s energy, arms and finance sectors. The president:
“Today … the United States is imposing new sanctions in key sectors of the Russian economy: energy, arms, and finance. We’re blocking the exports of specific goods and technologies to the Russian energy sector. We’re expanding our sanctions to more Russian banks and defense companies. And we’re formally suspending credit that encourages exports to Russia and financing for economic development projects in Russia. At the same time, the European Union is joining us in imposing major sanctions on Russia – its most significant and wide-ranging sanctions to date.”
Meanwhile, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Europe needs to stand up to Russia, which will be easier to do if Europe diversifies its energy supplies:
“They need to understand they must stand up to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin. The reluctance has to do with European dependence on energy from Russia.”
Laudable sentiments and goals, but America can do more than impose targeted and inherently limited sanctions. The U.S. can do more than talk. America can do more to provide effective help for her friends and to diminish the influence of adversaries. Through energy, American energy.
Posted July 23, 2014
There are three connected points in a new poll of registered U.S. voters on domestic oil and natural gas development that should resonate in Washington: Strong majorities of registered voters support more domestic drilling and production, they don’t think the federal government does enough to encourage development of domestic resources and they’re inclined to vote for political candidates who support oil and natural gas development here at home.
AP Upstream Group Director Erik Milito talked about the survey of 1,012 registered voters and issues related to increasing access to domestic oil and natural gas reserves during a conference call with reporters:
“Voters from across the political spectrum want to find and tap the vast oil and natural gas resources waiting to be discovered off our shores. Our industry stands ready to do the job safely and responsibly, and the benefits to our economy and our national security are impossible to deny. All the federal government needs to do is say, ‘Yes.’”
Posted July 21, 2014
The recent International Oil Spill Conference (IOSC) in Savannah, Ga., underscored the oil and natural gas industry’s continuing commitment to safe energy development – using new technologies and deployed expertise to quickly and appropriately respond in the event of an accidental spill.
Below, check out a new video featuring conference attendees, talking about IOSC’s valuable role in bringing together experts, service providers and government officials in the broad effort to keep improving the safety of offshore oil and natural gas development.
Posted July 18, 2014
Washington Examiner: The Obama administration announced Friday that it would allow exploration for oil and gas off some portions of the Atlantic Coast using sonic testing devices that environmentalists say harm marine life.
The Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management gave the OK for seismic airgun testing, which are boat-towed cannons that shoot sonar blasts off the ocean floor to scan for oil-and-gas deposits, in the mid- and south-Atlantic areas that stretch from the Delaware Bay to just south of Cape Canaveral, Fla. The approval is a prelude to potential offshore drilling there, though that is blocked through 2017 under President Obama's five-year offshore drilling plan.
"The bureau has identified a path forward that addresses the need to update the nearly four-decade-old data in the region while protecting marine life and cultural sites,” said Acting BOEM Director Walter D. Cruickshank, who noted the agency has several permits on hand to conduct the seismic tests. “The bureau's decision reflects a carefully analyzed and balanced approach that will allow us to increase our understanding of potential offshore resources while protecting the human, marine and coastal environments.”
Posted July 18, 2014
The federal decision to take the next step on developing a good portion of the oil and natural gas likely to be found on the Atlantic outer continental shelf (OCS) – at least 4.7 billion barrels of oil and 37.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas – is good, welcome and certainly significant in the effort to increase access to U.S. energy reserves.