Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted July 21, 2020
Through the recent COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shocks to energy markets around the world, U.S. natural gas has remained a relatively bright spot.
Record low prices have benefitted consumers, and at the same time many producers dedicated to natural gas in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Louisiana and East Texas have remained viable as cutbacks in oil and associated natural gas from other regions have taken effect. And now about 90% of U.S. drilling for natural gas is concentrated in these regions, that is Appalachia and the Haynesville areas.
The drilling activity has reflected two fundamental observations. The first is that, according to BTU Analytics, the recent breakeven price – that is, the Henry Hub wholesale market price needed to at least break even in drilling a new well – on average has remained near market prices despite COVID-19, a relatively warm winter and broad financial market concerns. The second observation is that natural gas well productivity, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, were resilient after some unexplained variation at the beginning of the year.
Posted July 17, 2020
Some lawmakers have proposed putting hundreds of thousands of Americans to work in clean energy jobs while moving the U.S. away from natural gas and oil and, presumably, from the jobs our industry supports.
Somebody should check to see if that’s what working men and women want.
A new study released this week by North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) shows that workers appreciate jobs in natural gas and oil over “green-collar” jobs – because they pay better, last longer and provide greater opportunities.
Posted July 16, 2020
Although we have a long way to go for U.S. petroleum markets to recover to pre-pandemic levels, the comeback broadly continued in June as state economies re-opened despite ongoing challenges with COVID-19. This is seen in API’s Monthly Statistical Report (MSR) for July.
With the daily news flow about COVID-19 – from America Shuts Down Again to More Than Half of States Trending Poorly – it has been challenging for oil markets to discern what’s actually happening. The MSR provides the most timely and comprehensive snapshot of U.S. markets for crude oil and major refined products, based on weekly surveys of up to 90% of the industry.
Posted July 16, 2020
Improvements to the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) – the first modernization proposed in nearly half a century – should help clear red tape that can bog down critical infrastructure projects for years and in the process block job creation and affect environmental protection.
The administration’s priority on updating NEPA to streamline infrastructure projects was clear in that President Trump made the announcement. The Council on Environmental Quality estimates that due to NEPA red tape, the average review takes nearly six years, and the average cost to complete a review is $4.2 million.
Modernization of NEPA is long overdue. NEPA review is a chief reason that building infrastructure has become so challenging in this country. A long menu of infrastructure projects has been impacted by protracted NEPA review, not just natural gas and oil projects (see previous posts here and here). These include airports, traffic improvements, wind farms and more.
Posted July 15, 2020
The Environmental Partnership continues to grow, broadening the reach of the industry initiative to further reduce emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds across the country.
In releasing its annual report, the Partnership announced it is expanding its membership to midstream companies. The Partnership, which has tripled the number of participating companies since it was launched, currently includes 36 of the top 40 U.S. natural gas producers.
Again, the Partnership’s membership growth means that more and more companies have signed on to the Partnership’s strategy of bringing operators together to learn from each other, collaborate on technologies and best practices and to take actions that improve their environmental performance. More broadly, this growth shows industry’s commitment to lower emissions and protect the environment while also supplying the energy that makes modern life possible.
Posted July 14, 2020
U.S. energy infrastructure is at an inflection point, with a number of important natural gas and oil pipelines sidetracked by red tape and court decisions within the past few weeks. Most outrageously, the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline, which has been operating safely for three years, was ordered shut down and drained by a federal judge. More on Dakota Access below.
The inflection point is this: Will we build the safe, modern energy infrastructure that broadly serves the public interest, creates thousands of jobs and harnesses abundant domestic natural gas and oil, or will narrow, often extreme interests continue to block the public good?
Posted July 13, 2020
Strong, bold and fresh. API’s new logo is all of these and more – reflecting our industry’s laser-focus on the future, innovation and the evolving role of natural gas and oil in taking us on the journey:
API represents women and men who work every day to find 21st-century energy solutions – dependable, adaptable and cleaner – to power our country forward. We’re excited to unveil this logo, a visual identity, which we believe will associate our workers and what they do with ingenuity, community and progress.
Posted July 9, 2020
Exporting U.S. natural gas via liquefied natural gas (LNG) has a big advantage over coal in lowering greenhouse gas emissions in electricity generation, according to a new study by ICF, (summarized here).
The analysis certainly quantifies what we’ve discussed before (see here and here) – that using clean natural gas to generate electricity significantly lowers GHG emissions compared to the emissions levels of coal-fired generation – on average, by 50.5%, according to ICF’s research.
GHGs include carbon dioxide from the fuel itself as well as CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and other gases emitted during the construction and operation of related fuel supply chain and power plant infrastructure.
The findings support the view that exported LNG gives the United States, the world’s leading natural gas producer, a golden opportunity to strengthen its global environmental and climate leadership.
Posted July 8, 2020
As President Trump welcomes Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the White House for their first face-to-face meeting, they will tout the landmark United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The updated North American trade pact, signed in January after months of deliberation, modernizes the longstanding trilateral agreement that was a central issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.
The political importance of the agreement aside, the USMCA is a win-win for American workers, businesses and energy consumers, paving the way for sustained U.S. energy leadership and expanded economic growth. Cross-border trade with Mexico and Canada is key to strengthening the domestic energy industry, which has made the United State the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas. Today, the U.S. counts Mexico as its number one export market for natural gas and refined products, with Canada as its top destination for crude oil.
By solidifying these critical energy partnerships, the International Trade Commission projects the USMCA could support the creation of between 176,000 and 589,000 American jobs, in addition to the 12 million US jobs and nearly $1.3 trillion in trade already sustained by our partnership with Mexico and Canada. With this record of economic development and job creation among these trading partners, it is clear why Presidents Trump and López Obrador would take a victory lap this week.
Posted July 7, 2020
Building and expanding U.S. pipeline infrastructure in this country shouldn’t be so difficult – not considering the critical role pipeline construction and operation play in American energy leadership, job creation and economic growth.
Modern natural gas and oil pipelines are the safe connection between consumers and America’s abundant, reliable, cleaner energy. Additional infrastructure is needed so that no matter where people live, they can be better served – expanding the benefit of domestic energy abundance.
Unfortunately, it has become increasingly challenging to get projects off the drawing board because of almost endless legal maneuvering and government red tape. Both contribute to delay and uncertainty that undermine project investment and completion.