Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted April 8, 2014
Posted April 2, 2014
Total U.S. net imports of energy, measured in terms of energy content, declined in 2013 to their lowest level in more than two decades. Growth in the production of oil and natural gas displaced imports and supported increased petroleum product exports, driving most of the decline. A large drop in energy imports together with a smaller increase in energy exports led to a 19% decrease in net energy imports from 2012 to 2013.
Total energy imports declined faster—down 9% from 2012 to 2013—than in the previous year, while export growth slowed. Crude oil production grew 15%, about the same pace as in 2012, which led imports of crude oil to decrease by 12%, accounting for much of the overall decline in imports.
Posted April 1, 2014
With Europe’s dependence on Russian gas impeding diplomatic efforts, it’s time to reconsider outdated policies that are keeping the U.S. from becoming an energy exporter.
U.S. lawmakers don’t drive around in 1970s-era cars, yet they don’t seem to mind energy policies that are equally out of date. Attempts to export shale oil and gas, for example, have run smack into legal and regulatory barriers as old as a Gran Torino.
Energy companies have been urging Congress to lift the lid on exports and start treating oil and gas again like any other commodity that’s freely traded in world markets. Tapping global demand for U.S. shale oil and gas, they say, will spur domestic production and create even more jobs in a sector that’s already racked up robust employment gains.
Posted March 31, 2014
Over the past few years, the U.S. has witnessed a dramatic turnaround in its energy situation. Thanks largely to a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," energy producers have been able to tap vast oil and gas deposits buried in deep shale formations. As a result, domestic oil and gas production has surged to multi-decade highs.
This energy boom has yielded tremendous and widespread economic benefits to the United States. A statement from the White House Council of Economic Advisors last year summed it up nicely: "Every barrel of oil or cubic foot of gas that we produce at home instead of importing abroad means more jobs, faster growth, and a lower trade deficit." Let's take a closer look at some of the main ways the energy boom has helped the nation's economy.
Posted March 21, 2014
To Americans used to thinking of energy in terms of the Middle East, the names of the world's top producers of natural gas might come as a surprise.
No. 1 is the United States. No. 2 is Russia. Together they stand as the giants of gas production. What separates them is that the U.S. consumes its gas, while Russia has become the world's largest exporter — a key reason why President Vladimir Putin felt confident that he could seize Crimea from Ukraine and get away with it. Russia supplies 30% of Europe's gas needs, making it hard for European leaders to muster the resolve to resist.
The good news is that the West can turn the tables on Putin, freeing Europe from its dependency and in the process making Russia pay dearly. That can't be done fast enough to neuter the current crisis, nor will it come cheaply. But if Putin believes his actions will drive Europe toward energy independence, he'll have to think twice. Deprived of its biggest market, Russia's fragile, energy-based economy would erode, along with its power and Putin's stratospheric popularity.
Posted March 20, 2014
The U.S. shale boom is beginning to ripple outward to American cities.
The shale mining industry's rising demand for materials and equipment along with the abundance of cheap fuel are fueling a modest renaissance in American manufacturing, according to a report prepared by IHS Global insight for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The shale extraction industry is itself driving growth through its hunger for steel pipeline, extraction machinery and other materials needed at domestic shale deposits, including the Bakken in North Dakota and the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania. The availability of cheap fuel has in turn allowed these energy intensive manufacturing industries to cut costs and compete better with foreign imports.
Posted March 19, 2014
Posted March 17, 2014
Happy birthday, fracking! What a fantastic, 65-year ride it has been – and here’s to another 65 years and more.
Advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling launched an oil and natural gas renaissance in this country – bringing dynamic job creation, economic stimulus that radiates well beyond the oil and natural gas industry proper and greater energy security. Thanks to fracking, the United States is an energy superpower that, with the right policies, can harness its vast resources to ensure a significantly better future for its citizens while reducing energy-related tension across the globe.
Posted March 11, 2014
Denver Post Editorial: Speeding up U.S. natural gas exports was a good idea even before the crisis in Crimea, but it's an even better idea now.
It's not as if U.S. exports are going to undermine Vladimir Putin's imperialistic designs in the short term. Ukraine would love to be less dependent on Russia for natural gas, but the export infrastructure in the U.S. for liquefied natural gas (LNG), particularly in terms of ports, isn't ready.
Indeed, the earliest that an export terminal is expected to come on line is in late 2015, with other terminals becoming operational perhaps a couple of years later. For that matter, the government doesn't direct where exports go. If the price in Asia for LNG is higher than in Europe, U.S. exports will tend to wind up there.
Still, the more gas is available worldwide, the less leverage Putin will have in bullying neighbors and in talks with European powers such as Germany, which also depends on Russian gas.
Posted March 10, 2014
Fracking Uses Lots of Water? Hardly
Real Clear Energy: For some reason, hydraulic fracking has gotten a reputation for using a lot of water. Not so, says Economic Policies for the 21st Century at the Manhattan Institute. When you look at the actual amount of water used in the process, hydraulic fracking comes out at the bottom of the list. As the report observes, "It takes twice as much water to maintain a golf course for a month than to frack a natural gas well."
Don't forget, all other energy resources use a lot of water, too. Biofuels is the biggest offender, since huge amounts of water are required to process and dilute the organic material. When the irrigation water needed to grow the crops is included, biofuels consume in excess of 2500 gallons of water per million BTU. (That may be cheating a bit since some advanced biofuel crops may not require irrigation, but the current corn crop, the source of all our ethanol, is heavily irrigated.) All forms of oil drilling require lots of water since water usually has to be added once a well passes maturity.