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 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 September 14, 2015
Safe, responsible energy development in the Gulf of Mexico is vital to the U.S. economy and job growth, as well as U.S. energy and national security. Each of these points likely will come up during a U.S. House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the impact of federal policies on energy production and economic growth in the Gulf, Tuesday in New Orleans.
Posted August 20, 2015
Some observations on this week’s federal oil and natural gas lease sale in the Western Gulf of Mexico, reported with alarm by some media outlets because it wasn’t as large as other recent sales.
First, every lease sale is welcome. Access to U.S. offshore reserves represents opportunity for energy development, job creation, economic growth and greater American energy security. We need more offshore opportunities to support the strategic, long-term energy security of the United States – advanced by a robust offshore energy sector.
Posted April 22, 2015
Just a few minutes after BP Group Chief Executive Robert Dudley addressed a CERAWeek luncheon crowd on post-Macondo efforts that have seen the company spend more than $44 billion on Gulf response and cleanup, I talked with Center for Offshore Safety Executive Director Charlie Williams about the center’s work to increase the safety culture in offshore energy development. Williams, who was named to his position in March 2012, talked about systems approaches to safety and what the center has learned about offshore safety in its first annual performance report, issued earlier this month. Highlights of the conversation below.
Posted April 9, 2015
Three zeroes stand out in the first annual performance report by the Center for Offshore Safety (COS), the oil and natural gas industry-led initiative to promote continuous offshore safety improvement following the 2010 Macondo incident: Zero fatalities, zero loss-of-well-control incidents and zero oil spills equal to or greater than 10,000 gallons in Gulf of Mexico operations.
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Posted January 28, 2015
Three maps, two views of America’s offshore energy wealth.
One reflects vast offshore oil and natural gas resource potential – nearly 50 billion barrels of oil and more than 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. We say potential because these areas represent the 87 percent of America’s federal offshore acreage that has been closed to exploration and development, dwarfing the areas where development is allowed.
Nonetheless, what’s visible is the profile of an offshore energy giant, an offshore superpower. This is energy muscle waiting to be flexed. These are resources that could benefit Americans in terms of energy security, as more oil and natural gas is safely and responsibly produced right here at home, as well as job creation and economic stimulus.
That’s what energy superpowers do. They develop their resources to increase their security in a world where secure energy is fundamental to overall security. They develop their resources to fuel economic growth and to help ensure the prosperity of their citizens.
Posted December 3, 2014
New Orleans Times-Picayune: After more than a decade of work and a $7.5 billion investment, Chevron has started oil and gas production at its Jack and St. Malo fields in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The fields are among the largest in the region, expected to produce more than 500 million barrels of oil equivalent over the next three decades.
The Jack and St. Malo fields, discovered in 2003 and 2004 respectively, are located 25 miles apart in the Walker Ridge region of the Gulf about 280 miles south of New Orleans.
Oil and gas from the fields will flow back to a single, floating production platform located between the two fields. The platform has the capacity to produce up to 170,000 barrels of oil and 42 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
Posted August 21, 2014
There’s much good to report from this week’s federal offshore drilling lease auction for the western Gulf of Mexico. But we can do better.
The good: nearly $110 million in apparent high bids over 81 blocks covering more than 430,000 acres, according to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The bid total represents a moderate increase over last year’s western Gulf sale that generated slightly more than $102 million in bids. BOEM estimates the sale eventually could yield 116 million to 200 million barrels of oil and 538 billion cubic feet (bcf) to 938 bcf of natural gas.
Broadly speaking, the fact that the federal government conducted an offshore lease sale is in itself encouraging. Development of vast offshore oil and natural gas reserves starts with leasing areas for exploration. That’s where we can do better. More sales are needed to begin the process of finding and developing offshore energy on the outer continental shelf, 87 percent of which is off limits by policy.
Posted July 15, 2014
Reuters: By now everyone knows the shale revolution was made possible by the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
But although fracking has captured the popular imagination, and is often used as a synonym for the whole phenomenon, horizontal drilling was actually the more recent and important breakthrough.
Mastery of horizontal drilling around 1990, originally for oil rather than gas exploration, was the decisive innovation that lit the long fuse for the shale revolution that erupted 15 years later.
"Horizontal drilling is the real marvel of engineering and scientific innovation," David Blackmon wrote in Forbes magazine last year ("Horizontal drilling: a technological marvel ignored", January 2013).
"While impressive in its own right, the main innovations in fracking have been beefing up the generating horsepower to accommodate horizontal wells rather than vertical ones, and refining of the fluids used to conserve water and create better, longer lasting fractures in the target formation."