Energy Tomorrow Blog
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."
Posted July 14, 2014
CNBC: The United States is swimming in oil and gas. But processing the new-found bounty is posing a challenge to U.S. refiners, which can't come to grips with the abundance in domestic supply.
A production renaissance has catapulted the United States into the upper strata of global energy producers. Yet with fewer than 150 refineries, the U.S. has a surprisingly limited capacity to process the bounty.
"Some refineries are better suited for light sweet crude," while others—primarily on the Gulf Coast—are better optimized for the heavier, international variety of oil, said Bob Greco, director of upstream operations for the American Petroleum Institute.
The huge increase in shale production in places like North Dakota is helping to revitalize East Coast refineries, Greco said in an interview.
Posted July 8, 2014
The Keystone XL Pipeline has been studied, and studied, and studied, in fact if the permit application were a person, it would have just graduated kindergarten. However, after nearly six years of studies which show positive benefits to our economy and energy security with no significant environmental impacts – politics are still trumping good policy.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement released by the State Department earlier this year found the project would deliver 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region to U.S. refineries, create 42,100 jobs during its construction phase and provide $3.4 billion in additional revenue to U.S. GDP.
Posted July 7, 2014
Promising news last week – the U.S. will remain the world’s largest oil producer this year, maintaining the top spot now and well into the future thanks to shale development, Bank of America says.
U.S. production of crude oil, along with liquids separated from natural gas, surpassed all other countries this year with daily output exceeding 11 million barrels in the first quarter, the bank said in its report.
Posted June 26, 2014
Washington Post: Even Democrats who prefer to develop alternate energy sources before expanding the use of fossil fuels say they want the Keystone XL pipeline built.
The new Pew "Political Typology" report shows huge majorities of all four Democratic-leaning groups support the development of wind, solar and hydrogen alternatives to oil, coal and natural gas. But of those same four groups, the Keystone XL pipeline is still overwhelmingly popular in three of them.
Among "hard-pressed skeptics," "next generation left" and "faith and family left," support for Keystone is two-to-one. So even as a group like the "next generation left" group supports alternate energy over fossil fuels 83-11, it still backs Keystone 62-28.
Posted June 25, 2014
A year ago President Obama clarified his position on the Keystone XL pipeline, saying that for him to approve the project it would need to meet two tests – that KXL would be in the national interest and would not “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”
The second point first. The environmental test has been passed – five times, in fact. The U.S. State Department’s fifth environmental assessment – which examined the Keystone XL’s construction, operation and the impact of increased oil sands development as a result of the pipeline – concluded that the project would have no effect on oil sands production and no significant effect on the environment.
Posted June 23, 2014
Posted June 13, 2014
Business Insider: Brent oil futures briefly began approaching $115 this morning, the highest level in nine months, as fears that Iraq is disintegrating spooked markets.
Crude is now up about 4% on the week. When prices stay at this level for this long, U.S. gas prices start creeping up.
But what about all the oil the U.S. has been producing the last few years? Shouldn't we be insulated from whatever oil is doing?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. Gasoline prices are set on the global market, and refiners everywhere ship product to wherever they can get the best quote. So for better or worse, raw gasoline prices mostly move in lockstep around the world. The primary contract for gasoline is called RBOB.
Posted June 12, 2014
Bloomberg News: U.S. fuel imports fell to a 15-year seasonal low as refineries processed increasing domestic crude output, moving the nation closer to energy independence.
Deliveries slid 653,000 barrels a day to 1.68 million in the week ended June 6, the fewest for the period since 1999, the Energy Information Administration data showed today. The 28 percent drop was the biggest decline since the week ended June 18, 2013. Fuel imports peaked at 4.97 million barrels a day in October 2005.
“There’s a change in the dynamic,” said Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “We’re not going to stop importing products but the overall number should move lower. We’re turning into a hub where products are both imported and exported based on price.”
Shipments to the U.S. from abroad have dropped as the shale boom provided refiners with an ample supply of cheaper domestic crude to make fuel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark crude, has traded at an average discount of $12 to Brent oil from the North Sea over the past four years. WTI traded at an average premium of more than $1 to the European grade from 1988 to 2008.
Posted June 12, 2014
API has a new website – Oilgasworkforce.com – launched to help meet the twin challenges of attracting the workers needed to sustain and grow America’s energy revolution, as well as provide the next generation of employees to replace those who will be retiring in the next few years.
The new website is an easy-to-use portal for those interested in industry-related jobs, training and more – offered in both English and Spanish versions. John Modine, vice president of Global Industry Services, discussed the site during a conference call with reporters:
“Not only are there tremendous opportunities brought about by shale development, the oil and gas industry is at the beginning of what insiders are calling the ‘great crew change,’ where a new generation of employees is needed to replace a huge retiring workforce. … The bottom line is that in order to maintain America’s status as a global energy leader, we will need an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to recruitment and retention of the next generation of oil and natural gas workers, which is the fundamental goal of www.oilgasworkforce.com.”