Energy Tomorrow Blog
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.
Posted March 27, 2015
Add the heft of Rice University’s respected Center for Energy Studies to the weight of scholarly analysis urging an end to America’s four-decades-old ban on domestic crude oil exports. In a new study, the center lays out a case for U.S. crude oil exports that builds on the findings of IHS, ICF, Brookings, the Aspen Institute/MAPI and others – saying that lifting the ban would result in significant economic and foreign policy benefits to the U.S.
The study explains that the export ban already is presenting a “binding constraint” on the domestic market, leading to “discounted” pricing for lighter crudes produced by America’s energy revolution. It also notes that large volumes of lighter domestic crudes, in excess of what the U.S. refining sector can use, with no access to other markets, are discounted compared to global crude prices.
Posted March 20, 2015
The case for lifting the 1970s-era ban on U.S. crude oil exports, in a nutshell:
The ban is a relic of the past, of an era when the U.S. was producing less and less of its own oil and importing more and more of oil produced by others. Crude exports would add to global crude supplies, putting downward pressure on the cost of crude. A number of studies project that lifting the export ban would lower domestic gasoline prices. Exports would stimulate domestic production, protecting U.S. jobs and creating more in the future. Exports would strengthen U.S. economic power that underlies American global influence.
There are more reasons, more details to the affirmative export case, a number of which were aired at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing this week. In its totality, it’s a strong, strong case.
Posted March 16, 2015
Denver Business Journal: The boom in oil and natural gas production in North America, largely due to the new technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, is changing the balance of power across the world, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice told attendees at the Vail Global Energy Forum.
Rice opened a two-day forum, which continues through Sunday, with remarks on Friday evening at the Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Vail. The forum, now in its third year, is growing. Nearly 400 people registered for the 2015 event, a 20 percent increase over the previous year, organizers said.
Posted March 3, 2015
ConocoPhillips Chairman and CEO Ryan Lance applies some uncomplicated logic to the question of whether the United States should lift its 1970s-era ban on exporting domestic crude oil. “We should treat crude oil like any other potential product export,” Lance said at an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
As he did during a January visit to Washington, Lance laid out compelling reasons for lifting the crude oil export ban: An abundance of domestic light crude produced from shale is mismatched for a U.S. refining sector that’s largely configured to process heavier crudes, exporting crude would give producers access to the global market, helping to sustain domestic production and U.S. industry jobs, and exports would add supply to the global market, helping stabilize it and affording the U.S. new opportunities to exert positive influences in the world.
Posted February 20, 2015
Posted February 10, 2015
Standout findings in a new major field study on methane emissions from natural gas collection and processing facilities across 13 states, led by Colorado State University include a couple of points:
First, of 130 facilities that collect natural gas from production wells, remove impurities and deliver it to inter- and intrastate pipeline networks, 101 had methane loss rates below 1 percent – including 85 of the 114 gathering facilities and all 16 of the processing plants studied. Put another way, methane containment at these facilities is more than 99 percent.
Second, the majority of emissions resulted from abnormalities involving broken or faulty equipment – issues that are relatively easy to address.
Posted January 23, 2015
Earlier this month, then-White House advisor John Podesta said the Obama administration is unlikely to do more on the U.S. crude oil export ban beyond the Commerce Department’s recent effort to clarify the rules for exporting ultra-light crude known as condensates. Podesta told Reuters:
“At this stage, I think that what the Commerce Department did in December sort of resolves the debate. We felt comfortable with where they went. If you look at what's going on in the market and actions that the Department took, I think that ... there's not a lot of pressure to do more.”
It’s a strange conclusion given the weight of scholarship that says America’s 1970s ban on crude exports should be lifted – to spur domestic production, create jobs and put downward pressure on U.S. gasoline prices. It also would solve a growing mismatch between supplies of light sweet domestic crude and a refinery sector that’s largely configured to handle heavier crudes. ConocoPhillips Chairman and CEO Ryan Lance, speaking recently at the Center for Strategic and International Studies:
“(The condensates decision is) a help. … I question whether we’ll ever grow to a million barrels a day of condensate production, so it helps, but it doesn’t solve the problem. It doesn’t answer the issue that we’re going to have coming at us as a nation … crude that our refineries cannot refine. So it’s a help, but by no stretch does it solve the problem. We have to address the bigger issue.”
Posted January 20, 2015
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The new year has seen crude oil prices continue to stumble and U.S. oil production continue to soar, and those trends are not likely to subside — at least in the short term.
Total U.S. crude oil production reached 9.1 million barrels per day (bbl/d) during the week ending Jan. 9, an increase over last year’s total of 8.1 million, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
And that figure is expected to grow. The agency forecasts total crude production will average 9.3 million barrels per day in 2015 and climb to 9.5 million in 2016, “which would be the second-highest annual average level of production in U.S. history; the highest was 9.6 million bbl/d in 1970,” the EIA said in its short-term energy outlook released last week.
Posted January 20, 2015
API’s new national television ad underscores the ramifications of the United States as the world’s No. 1 producer of natural gas and its likely ascendance this year to No. 1 status in oil production. America is the world’s newest energy superpower.
As the ad notes, the domestic energy revolution that has elevated the U.S. the energy superpower status is because of safe, advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, which have unlocked vast oil and natural gas reserves held in shale and other tight-rock formations.