Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted June 9, 2020
As businesses reopen across the country, the U.S. economy is beginning to emerge from the widespread shutdowns caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. America’s energy operators are poised to safely and responsibly power our economic recovery, and the latest market data shows that the initial phases are well underway.
While the short-term outlook remains unclear, energy analysts have consistently backed the strength of this industry’s fundamentals, and long-term forecasts signal demand growth for natural gas and oil through the next several decades.
Posted May 21, 2020
After crude oil futures prices plunged into negative territory for a day last month, there was a good deal of speculation that the same thing could happen this month. Some even pointed to the April futures meltdown as a “doomsday” scenario for U.S. natural gas and oil.
Well, a number of things happened on the way to oil’s “doomsday.”
At the outset, let’s note that what happened with futures in April didn’t repeat this month. Oil futures prices for June delivery of West Texas Intermediate crude, whose contracts expired Tuesday, closed at $32.50 per barrel – about 300% higher than they did for those contracts a month ago. Let’s explore why.
Posted May 19, 2020
Natural gas’ economic competitiveness continues, even amid the highly unexpected market conditions associated with the coronavirus pandemic – outcompeting coal, the No. 2 fuel for power generation.
While consumer electricity use patterns are changing as power demand throughout the country has declined during the coronavirus crisis, natural gas is playing a growing role in meeting that demand.
This shift towards greater reliance on natural gas – along with a corresponding decline in coal-fired generation – has been a key feature of the U.S. power sector for most of the past decade, and the current environment appears to be accelerating this trend. In fact, the coal-to-gas transition is starker during this historic season as lower electricity demand, coupled with low natural gas prices, is providing added incentive for power suppliers.
Posted May 14, 2020
API’s latest Monthly Statistical Report (MSR) has positive news; it just takes a close look to find it.
One example: Weekly petroleum demand data (MSR and U.S. Energy Information Administration), as measured by total domestic petroleum deliveries, indicates that the worst impacts on our industry from COVID-19 and measures to contain it may be behind us, occurring in mid-April.
We won’t know for sure until we see data for May in next month’s MSR. But EIA’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report (WPSR), shows that demand rebounded by 3.0 million barrels per day (mb/d) as of May 8, from the low point in the week of April 10 (lowest demand for April since 1970). With more than 30 states in various stages of re-opening, demand could be expected to increase along with rising economic activity.
Posted April 23, 2020
While the current decline in crude oil demand and market uncertainty present significant challenges, America’s natural gas and oil producers – especially those using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling – are resilient and remain financially viable, supported by the world’s need for energy.
Contrary to some narratives, our industry is poised to fuel renewed growth once the U.S. and other nations get past the COVID-19 crisis. Natural gas and oil have and will again power modern economic expansion.
Posted April 23, 2020
While the natural gas and oil industry focuses on challenges from the historic drop in oil demand due to the impacts of COVID-19, keep an eye on proposals that offer the best support for this industry and, in turn, the U.S. economy and American consumers.
One idea among many – including addressing storage issues and ensuring access to capital – is to look to China as a potential buyer of U.S. energy. Makes sense: In an oversupplied global market, China appears to be a buyer. What’s more, in the “Phase 1” trade deal announced in January, China agreed to buy U.S. crude and liquefied natural gas (LNG), among other energy products.
Today, API sent a letter to the U.S. Commerce and Energy departments and the U.S. Trade Representative to suggest that some good might come from following up with China to buy U.S. energy. The letter notes that U.S. energy exports to targeted markets are essential to help with oversupply and storage issues here at home.
Posted April 21, 2020
Experienced industry hands say they’ve never seen anything like Monday’s trading on May futures contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude oil (WTI), which closed in negative territory.
While the natural gas and oil industry certainly isn’t alone in weathering the COVID-19 crisis, our impacts probably are more visible than most other sectors, underscored by Monday’s negative trading on oil futures. Three things to know ...
Posted April 16, 2020
Amid talk in Texas of production quotas (“proration”) and other extreme policies that have been suggested to address the oil demand downturn, API’s Monthly Statistical Report (MSR) shows that supply is responding in real time and that U.S. crude and refined storage capacities have some flexibility to adjust to the COVID-19 driven demand decrease – helping to alleviate the need for blanket policies or government interventions.
Notably, recent federal actions may help provide additional flexibility to the entire energy value chain. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy’s opening of crude oil storage capacity within the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to individual companies provides much-needed flexibility. Separately, Federal Reserve measures to either purchase corporate bonds or provide loans may perform additional triage for the energy industry and across the broader economy.
Posted April 13, 2020
We understand the oil demand-side circumstances that have led to calls for artificial market interventions such as tariffs and quotas – including a proposal before natural gas and oil regulators in Texas to mandate oil production cuts in the United States’ No. 1 oil-producing state.
Tough market conditions are no reason to implement bad remedies, such as the Texas proposal, which is problematic at best.
That’s not just an API view. Economics and history argue strongly against veering from the principle of markets dictating production levels, which is a core principle of our industry.
Posted March 26, 2020
Supply networks for refined products – including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel – appear to be responding properly and flexibly to sudden and sharp declines for transportation fuel stemming from the coronavirus (COVID-19) and global efforts to slow its spread.
Market conditions can shift, yet API’s view at this point is that most refined products markets have continued to function well in keeping about a month’s worth of storage.
We gauge this in part by comparing recent inventory levels for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel with their ranges over the past five years. Although some products appear to have more available storage capacity than others, if needed, it also is apparent that the pace at which refiners produce fuels can provide additional adjustments which will affect demand for storage.