Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted June 22, 2015
Wall Street Journal (Hamm) -- Amid news of a pending nuclear deal with Iran, some OPEC countries have struck agreements with refineries in Asia to avoid losing market share when Iranian oil comes back on the market. If U.S. policy will allow Iran to export oil, shouldn’t it allow America to do the same? Clearly, our allies would rather get their oil from America than Iran if given the choice. But without the ability to export, the U.S. is not even in the game.
Congress must lift the ban on U.S. crude oil exports. The ban is a terrible relic of the Nixon era that harms the American economy. As Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) has pointed out, restrictions on oil trade effectively amount to domestic sanctions. Combined with a mismatch in refining capacity, the ban on oil exports is creating a significant discount for U.S. light oil at no benefit to anyone except refiners and their foreign ownership. It has cost U.S. states, producers and royalty owners $125 billion in lost revenue in four years, according to industry estimates.
Foreign producers are using their heavy oil—and the U.S. ban on exports—as a weapon against America. Over the past three decades countries such as Venezuela, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Canada have overtaken U.S. refining capacity to run their heavy crude in American refineries and capture a large portion of the U.S. market. Without firing a shot, they have disadvantaged American oil and interests.
Posted June 5, 2015
New York Post – Six months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned fracking as too hazardous, the federal government released a report Thursday saying there’s no evidence the drilling practice has caused widespread harm to drinking water in the United States.
“Based on available scientific information, we found out that hydraulic fracturing activities in United States are carried out in a way that has not had widespread systemic impact on drinking-water resources,” said Thomas Burke, deputy assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“It is a new lens, so we can all make better decisions about public health.”
The report, issued in draft form after three years of study, cautioned that safeguards are still needed because some drinking water has been contaminated.
“The number of documented impacts on groundwater resources is relatively low,” Burke said.
Posted June 4, 2015
After five years and millions of taxpayer dollars, EPA says what we in industry and others have said for some time: Safe hydraulic fracturing doesn’t threaten our drinking water. The salient quote from EPA’s draft report about fracking and associated operational components:
“We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”
EPA’s findings discredit scaremongering used by fracking opponents and should help focus attention where industry is and has been focused – on continuous improvements in operational skill, guided by a set of rigorous best practices, and on technological advances.
EPA’s findings also effectively endorse the strong environmental stewardship that is being exercised by state regulators, who have been busy while EPA studied.
Posted May 6, 2015
BloombergBusiness: The U.S. will become one of the world’s largest oil exporters if domestic production continues to surge and policy makers lift a four-decade ban that keeps most crude from leaving the country, a government-sponsored study shows.
America would be capable of sending as much as 2.4 million barrels a day overseas in 2025 if federal policy makers were to eliminate restrictions on most crude exports, an analysis by Turner, Mason & Co. for the Energy Information Administration shows. That would make the U.S. the fourth-largest oil exporter, behind Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, based on 2013 EIA data. The report assumes domestic output rises by 7.2 million barrels a day from 2013.
The analysis is part of a series of studies the U.S. government is performing following a 71 percent surge in domestic oil production over the last four years. Drillers including Harold Hamm of Continental Resources Inc. and John Hess of Hess Corp. have been calling on the government to lift the ban on crude exports as they pump more light oil out of shale formations from North Dakota to Texas.
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.
Posted April 7, 2015
BloombergView: It's a pernicious bit of American mythology that is used to justify the law against domestic oil producers selling their crude overseas: The U.S. needs "energy independence." Never mind that the law actually undermines this goal, or that the goal itself is practically impossible to achieve. It's the wrong goal. What the U.S. should be striving for is not independence, but energy security.
The story behind the myth goes something like this: If the U.S. doesn't hoard all its oil, then it can't hope to attain energy independence. And until it does that, it has to keep buying oil from politically unstable or unfriendly regimes. Therefore U.S. consumers must tolerate volatile prices for gasoline and heating oil.
The tale is false, but it brushes against one truth: When instability in other countries affects the price of oil, the U.S. economy can suffer. Just last month, the price jumped almost 5 percent when Saudi bombs began to fall on rebel targets in Yemen. Such unpredictable spikes make it difficult for many U.S. businesses to plan ahead, and this means less investment and less hiring.
Posted October 6, 2014
CNBC (Chevron Chairman and CEO John Watson): Over the last 150 years, we've seen the greatest advancements in living standards in recorded history — advances enabled by affordable and reliable energy that have brought light, heat, mobility, modern communications and other benefits to billions of people around the world. The United States has helped lead many of these advancements — by spreading our ideals of free markets, open trade, rule-of-law and limited state involvement. In doing so, we've allowed private initiative to innovate and drive progress.
As more of the world seeks to capitalize on these advancements, the ensuing spread of wealth is helping to lift more people into the middle class and realize these same benefits. In the past 10 years, the world has added three-quarters of a billion people to the middle class.
And despite some struggles of our own, America's business and economic system remains the envy of much of the world. Yet it's a system that continues to evolve … and change.
Perhaps the most dramatic changes have been in the U.S. oil and natural gas sector, where we've launched an energy revolution, fueled by technology and innovation, that's allowing us to produce more from oil and gas fields and develop new geographic frontiers. In the last decade, we've rewritten the U.S. energy story — from one focused on scarcity to one focused on abundance.
Posted April 7, 2014
U.S. Energy Boom Lifts Low-Income Workers Too
Wall Street Journal op-ed (subscription required): Mayors, governors and economic-development officials love natural-resource jobs—and today's North American energy revolution has been providing a lot of them. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of new jobs in the oil and gas industry (technically a part of mining) increased by roughly 270,000 between 2003 and 2012. This is an increase of about 92% compared with a 3% increase in all jobs during the same period.
The people of New York and other states that have so far declined to take part in the boom might like to know what they are missing because these jobs pay well. The BLS reports that the U.S. average annual wage (which excludes employer-paid benefits) in the oil and gas industry was about $107,200 during 2012, the latest full year available. That's more than double the average of $49,300 for all workers.
At the other end of the wage spectrum are waiters and waitresses in food services nationwide earning about $16,200 a year, workers in the accommodations industry with average pay of $27,300, and those in the retail trade with average wages of $27,700. But the evidence from the oil boom regions is that energy development lifts wages for low-income workers too.
Posted November 11, 2013
The oil and natural gas industry supports safe and responsible energy development of America’s shale reserves. Three recent news reports underscore the time, innovation and energy various companies are investing in reducing surface impacts while protecting water supplies and air quality.
The Greeley (CO) Tribune reports on environmentally friendly measures companies are using in energy-rich Weld County. These include:
- Recycling water – Water produced during hydraulic fracturing is being captured and recycled, helping reduce water needs for future fracking jobs.
- Water supply – Companies are piping water into sites where hydraulic fracturing is being used to reduce the need for water supplied by trucks, also reducing traffic.
Posted November 11, 2013
There Would Be No Iranian Nuclear Talks if not for Fracking
Bloomberg Businessweek: Lost in some of the forecasting over what an agreement may eventually entail is the simple fact that none of this would be possible without the U.S. oil boom. Over the last two years, the U.S. has increased its crude production by about 2 million barrels a day. That’s like swallowing Norway, the fourteenth largest oil producer in the world. This new U.S. crude supply has allowed the West to put the squeeze on Iran without disrupting the global market or jacking up the price.
According to a recent report from the Congressional Research Service (pdf), Iran’s oil exports have been cut in half since 2011, from 2.5 million barrels per day to a bit more than 1 million today. As a result, Iran has had to halt an equal amount of production.
The fact that this has all happened without the slightest disruption felt in the oil market is extraordinary.
“I think it’s pretty clear that without the U.S. shale revolution, it never would have been possible to put this kind of embargo on Iran,” says Julius Walker, a global energy market strategist with UBS Securities (UBS). “Without U.S. production gains, I think we’d be looking at $150 a barrel,” says Walker. Instead, international prices have hovered around $110, and are less than $100 in the U.S.
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