Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted May 11, 2016
Some points for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to consider when it meets next week to review the Obama administration’s proposed 2017-2022 program for offshore oil and natural gas leasing.
First, offshore oil and natural gas production historically has played a major role in overall U.S. energy output. In 2010 more than 30 percent of U.S. oil and 11 percent of U.S. natural gas was produced in the Gulf of Mexico. So, while it’s great that the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that Gulf production will increase to record high levels in 2017, every American must recognize that reaching record Gulf output next year would result because of leasing decisions made a decade or more ago.
In that context, let’s be clear: The federal offshore leasing program must reflect energy leadership and vision, and it must be focused on fostering opportunity. It must not reduce America’s offshore energy potential by keeping key offshore areas off the table for development.
Posted April 27, 2016
BOEM’s DC meeting that followed others this month in New Orleans, Houston and a number of localities in Alaska, was an information smorgasbord. They had a video overview of the methodology in developing the leasing program that will guide offshore energy development from 2017 to 2022. They also had a number of tables with printed handouts, where BOEM staffers were available to talk about topics ranging from protected species to the human environment to acoustics in the water.
I asked a staffer if it was possible that someone knowing little to nothing about offshore energy and leasing could wander into BOEM’s meeting, watch the video, absorb the information handouts, talk to BOEM representatives and then submit an informed comment on the leasing proposal. “Yes,” he said. Neat.
BOEM had a number of laptops set up to receive electronic comments. I submitted mine the old-fashioned way, writing them out longhand on a form. I labored to print legibly.
Certainly, BOEM has been meticulous in developing its proposed leasing program. The final version that will come out early next year will say a lot about U.S. energy leadership and vision and the future of American energy. That’s how critically important our offshore reserves are.
Posted March 23, 2016
The Obama administration’s decision last week to eliminate the Atlantic from the next federal offshore leasing plan is a step backward for American energy policy. Despite bipartisan support in Congress and from voters in coastal states, the administration is doubling down on a shortsighted policy that keeps 87 percent of federally controlled offshore acreage off limits to energy exploration.
Expanding access to America’s energy resources – both offshore and onshore – is vital to our future energy security and economic growth.
Posted October 22, 2015
Recent reports assert that some of the world’s oil suppliers have had a strategy to curtail the U.S. energy revolution – and that the strategy has worked, citing U.S. Energy Information Administration data showing U.S. production in decline. Bloomberg this week:
After a year suffering the economic consequences of the oil price slump, OPEC is finally on the cusp of choking off growth in U.S. crude output. The nation’s production is almost back down to the level pumped in November 2014, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries switched its strategy to focus on battering competitors and reclaiming market share.
Market decisions by major suppliers certainly have impact. Yet, focusing attention on factors beyond U.S. control misses factors under U.S. control that have a clear bearing on the trajectory of domestic oil production, economic growth and American security.
We’ll name a couple: continuing the outdated ban on U.S. oil exports and regulatory and process roadblocks that limit access to energy reserves and production. What we have is an administration whose self-sanctioning approach to U.S. energy is hurting American competitiveness in the global marketplace, to the benefit of other producers.
Posted July 30, 2015
Our series highlighting the economic and jobs impact of energy in each of the 50 states continues today with Alaska. We started the week with a look at North Dakota. All information covered in this series can be found online here, arranged on an interactive map of the United States. State-specific information across the country will be populated on this map as the series continues.
As we can see with Alaska, the energy impacts of the states individually combine to form energy’s national economic and jobs picture: 9.8 million jobs supported and $1.2 trillion in value added.
Posted June 19, 2015
Energy & Environment Daily – Supporters of ending the ban on crude oil exports are mounting a full-court press to win over wary lawmakers, while keeping a close eye on global markets and the calendar.
Export backers in recent months have cited both national security and economic arguments as they look to line up the votes to repeal the decades-old ban. Earlier this week at a speech at the U.S. Energy Information Administration annual conference, Continental Resources Inc. founder Harold Hamm warned that maintaining the ban would cause U.S. production to fall by 1 million barrels a day (Greenwire, June 16).
EIA's own data from earlier this month pegged U.S. oil production at 9.6 million barrels per day in May, but predicted that amount to "generally decline" until early 2016 before picking up again.
However, EIA's latest forecast also noted the highest average monthly price of 2015 for the global oil benchmark -- Brent crude, which rose $5 a barrel in May. At the same time, U.S. average gasoline prices rose to $2.72 last month, a 25-cent increase over April and the highest of the year so far.
Posted June 17, 2015
The Hill – A new Republican bill introduced Tuesday would completely repeal the federal mandate to blend ethanol into the nation’s gasoline supply.
Sen. Bill Cassidy’s (R-La.) legislation would completely do away with the renewable fuel standard, which first took effect in 2005 and now requires increasing levels of ethanol and biodiesel to be put into traditional fossil fuels.
The mandate invites frequent criticism from Republicans, the oil industry and sectors that complain the demand it creates for corn ethanol increases agricultural prices.
“Workers, refiners, producers, farmers and ranchers across the country are affected by the renewable fuel standard,” Cassidy said in a statement. “More mandates mean less jobs. It means families are paying more for gas and groceries.”
Posted June 2, 2015
The Huffington Post (Sean McGarvey): The American job market is the best it's been in six years, according to the latest government data. The jobless rate is below 6 percent for the first time since 2008.
And in 2013, the United States became the world's top producer of oil and natural gas – surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia.
This U.S. energy boom is creating many new jobs here in America, and it's a leading contributor to American workers' vaulting out of the unemployment line and into the middle class. Our leaders must continue to support domestic energy exploration, which is proving our nation's strongest job-growth engine.
According to the American Petroleum Institute, investments in updating U.S. energy infrastructure alone could generate an estimated $1.14 trillion in capital investments – creating both jobs and energy savings from now until 2025.
Posted May 29, 2015
Reuters: The U.S. Congress could lift the 40-year old ban on domestic crude oil exports within a year as a drop in gasoline prices and the potential return of Iranian oil to global markets makes it an easier measure for politicians to support, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said on Thursday.
U.S. gasoline prices have dropped since last year along with global crude prices, thanks to strong crude output from the United States, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. On Thursday, the U.S. average for regular gasoline at the pump was nearly $2.74 a gallon, down from $3.65 a year ago, according to the AAA motorist club.
If that remains the case, it has the potential to allay politicians' fears that they could be blamed any rise in gasoline prices if the crude oil export ban was lifted. If talks between six global powers and Tehran on Iran's nuclear program reach a deal on June 30, sanctions on Iran's oil exports could be removed soon after. That could also put pressure on global oil and U.S. gasoline prices.
Posted May 20, 2015
The Wall Street Journal (Leon Panetta and Stephen Hadley): The United States faces a startling array of global security threats, demanding national resolve and the resolve of our closest allies in Europe and Asia. Iran’s moves to become a regional hegemon, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and conflicts driven by Islamic terrorism throughout the Middle East and North Africa are a few of the challenges calling for steadfast commitment to American democratic principles and military readiness. The pathway to achieving U.S. goals also can be economic—as simple as ensuring that allies and friends have access to secure supplies of energy.
Blocking access to these supplies is the ban on exporting U.S. crude oil that was enacted, along with domestic price controls, after the 1973 Arab oil embargo. The price controls ended in 1981 but the export ban lives on, though America is awash in oil.
The U.S. has broken free of its dependence on energy from unstable sources. Only 27% of the petroleum consumed here last year was imported, the lowest level in 30 years. Nearly half of those imports came from Canada and Mexico. But our friends and allies, particularly in Europe, do not enjoy the same degree of independence. The moment has come for the U.S. to deploy its oil and gas in support of its security interests around the world.