Energy Tomorrow Blog
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 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 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 December 4, 2014
National Journal: World oil producers have put oil prices into a free fall, refusing to pare back global supplies in the hopes that low prices will derail the fracking-backed production boom in the U.S. and preserve OPEC's power over world energy markets.
But global analysts are skeptical that the move will work.
The basic reason: Prices remain high enough to keep pumping. "Looking out there, it seems like there's a huge amount of oil that can be produced at $60, $70 per barrel," said Michael Lynch, president of consulting firm Strategic Energy and Economic Research, referring to the prices for Brent crude oil, a global reference point.
Posted October 16, 2014
Early in a panel discussion of energy policy and politics hosted by Real Clear Politics, the question was asked whether U.S. voters pay much attention to energy issues in an election year. RCP tweeted panelist/Wall Street Journal energy reporter Amy Harder’s response - that voters only notice energy when the prices are high.
Certainly, that’s generally been an accurate analysis. Less than a decade ago energy issues were challenging for U.S. policymakers staring at flat or declining domestic oil and natural gas production
But the U.S. energy picture has been dramatically altered by surging production here at home – an energy revolution made possible by advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling and vast resources in shale and other tight-rock formations. Result: Good news in the absence of challenging energy developments – for U.S. consumers (if not for hosts of events on the intersection of energy and politics).
Posted September 25, 2014
Supply matters. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) chief Adam Sieminski, crude oil could cost at least $150 a barrel today because of supply disruptions in the Middle East and North Africa – if not for rising U.S. crude production.
Sieminski told the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s annual meeting that crude from the Bakken, Permian and Eagle Ford shale plays and others around the country has spiked in the past decade to more than 4 million barrels per day – enough to make up for outages in crude production elsewhere. Sieminski:
“If we did not have the growth in North Dakota, in the Eagle Ford and the Permian, oil could be $150 (per barrel). There is a long list of countries with petroleum outages that add up to about 3 million barrels per day.”
So, let’s rephrase things a bit: Clearly, U.S. production, adding to global supply, matters. A lot.
Posted May 15, 2014
CNBC (Spencer Abraham/Bill Richardson): Once again the world is looking for America's leadership in unsettled times. Our diplomats have limited options to combat Russia's annexation of Crimea, but they can take greater advantage of a new tool in their toolbox that no administration has had for generations — U.S. energy abundance. American energy exports will not only create economic opportunities here at home but will provide strategic geopolitical advantages abroad.
The crisis involving Ukraine and Russia highlights the need for American energy leadership. Russia remains the world's largest exporter of natural gas, supplying 30 percent of Europe's imports. Countries on Russia's periphery, many nearly completely dependent on Russian supply, pay exorbitant oil linked prices. Many are NATO allies.
Posted December 26, 2013
U.S. crude oil production on track to surpass imports for first time since 1995
EIA Today in Energy: Monthly crude oil production in the United States is expected to exceed the amount of U.S. crude oil imports later this year for the first time since February 1995. The gap between monthly U.S. crude oil production and imports is projected to be almost 2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) by the end of next year—according to EIA's March 2013 Short-Term Energy Outlook.
According to EIA's projections:
- Monthly crude oil production could surpass net crude oil imports later this year.
- Monthly crude oil production is forecast to top 8 million bbl/d in the fourth quarter of 2014, which would be the highest level since 1988.
- Net crude oil imports are expected to fall below 7 million bbl/d in the fourth quarter of 2014 for the first time since 1995.
Posted March 21, 2013
New from the U.S. Energy Information Administration:
Monthly crude oil production in the United States is expected to exceed the amount of U.S. crude oil imports later this year for the first time since February 1995. The gap between monthly U.S. crude oil production and imports is projected to be almost 2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) by the end of next year—according to EIA's March 2013 Short-Term Energy Outlook.