Energy Tomorrow Blog
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.
Posted February 26, 2014
Surge in Fuel Exports Boosting U.S. Trade Balance
Fuel Fix Blog: HOUSTON — Growing production of U.S. oil and gas is helping to improve the nation’s trade balance, according to a federal report Monday.
Dramatic growth in the export of refined petroleum products, such as jet fuel and gasoline, has led the way. The value of net refined exports increased 55 percent in 2013 over the prior year, reaching $33 billion, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
U.S. refiners are finding cheaper domestic alternatives to overseas oil, causing a rally in the ratio of refined fuel exports to imports. Overall energy export values increased 8 percent in 2013 over the prior year. Total energy imports to the U.S. fell by 11 percent for the same time period.
Posted February 21, 2014
Well-Being in America: Shale Gas Buys You Happiness
The Economist: Based on interviews with more than 178,000 people from all 50 states, the Well-Being Index offers an interesting glimpse of the physical and mental health of the nation. It also spotlights the country's winners and losers. The results divide regionally, with Midwestern and Western states earning nine of the ten best scores in 2013, while Southern states have eight of the ten lowest. Massachusetts has the highest rate of residents with health insurance (which may bode well for Obamacare). Colorado, meanwhile, nearly always has the lowest obesity rate.
Sitting pretty in first place now is North Dakota, which has displaced Hawaii as the state where people are most likely to be healthy and feel good about their life and work. North Dakota’s speedy climb to first place from 19 last year seems to have a lot to do with the shale-gas boom, which has buoyed the state with lots of new jobs and money. This bonanza has apparently trickled into South Dakota, which has elbowed aside Colorado to secure second place.
Posted February 20, 2014
Welcome to ‘Saudi Texas’
U.S. News & World Report (Laskoski): To fully appreciate what many of us may simply take for granted — that the Lone Star state produces oil as easily as McDonald’s produces hamburgers — it sometimes helps to look elsewhere to appreciate the actual scale by which we should view such things.
The Associated Press reported this month that North Dakota produced 313 million barrels of oil in 2013, a record amount, and about 70 million more than it produced in 2012. For North Dakota, that’s six consecutive years of record oil production. State data shows that the 185 oil rigs working there now double the amount from four years ago. And you’ve certainly heard about the economic boom and jobs growth that has drawn thousands from all across the country seeking their fortune.
But when your attention is drawn to the Texas oil boom, that discussion takes place on another plane because of the previously inaccessible shale wealth that transforms state economies via fracking. Jonathan Cogan of the Energy Information Administration noted this week that production in the Eagle Ford formation in South Texas reached 1.2 million barrels per day in December. Additionally, production from the Permian Basin averaged 1.3 million bpd and is projected to grow more than any other U.S. region through 2015.
Posted February 19, 2014
The Geopolitical Consequences of the Shale Revolution
Foreign Affairs (Blackwell and O’Sullivan): Only five years ago, the world’s supply of oil appeared to be peaking, and as conventional gas production declined in the United States, it seemed that the country would become dependent on costly natural gas imports. But in the years since, those predictions have proved spectacularly wrong. Global energy production has begun to shift away from traditional suppliers in Eurasia and the Middle East, as producers tap unconventional gas and oil resources around the world, from the waters of Australia, Brazil, Africa, and the Mediterranean to the oil sands of Alberta. The greatest revolution, however, has taken place in the United States, where producers have taken advantage of two newly viable technologies to unlock resources once deemed commercially infeasible: horizontal drilling, which allows wells to penetrate bands of shale deep underground, and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which uses the injection of high-pressure fluid to release gas and oil from rock formations.
Posted February 13, 2014
Fuel Fix Blog: While the January jobs report was a disappointing for the national economy, it brought good news about growth in oil and gas.
About 206,000 employees worked in the oil and gas extraction sector in January, about 1.8 percent more than in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationwide, total employment was relatively stagnant at a seasonally adjusted 137.5 million.
The employment story was positive across sectors of the energy industry. Manufacturing of petroleum and coal products had 112,700 employees on payrolls, a 1.6 percent increase from December. The chemicals sector grew by 1.2 percent to 796,100 people.
Posted February 13, 2014
What They’ve Said About Keystone XL: Build It!
It’s hard to overstate the broad-based nature of political support for the Keystone XL pipeline, support that stems from the project’s benefits: upwards of 830,000 barrels a day of oil from Canada’s oil sands and the U.S. Bakken region, 42,100 jobsduring the pipeline’s construction phase, strengthened energy security – with the Keystone XL playing an integral role in a broad strategy that could see 100 percent of U.S. liquid fuel needs met domestically and from Canada.
Posted February 7, 2014
The Shale Factor in U.S. National Security
Reuters (Dobriansky, Richardson and Warner): The boom in domestic shale oil and gas production has increased U.S. prosperity and economic competitiveness. But the potential for this to enhance our national security remains largely unrealized.
The shale surge has boosted production by 50 percent for oil and 20 percent for gas over the last five years. Yet our political leaders are only just beginning to explore how it can help further national strategic interests.
We led a major study at the Center for a New American Security in the last year, bringing together a nonpartisan panel to examine national security implications of the unconventional energy boom. We decided that outdated idealization of “energy independence” is preventing the administration and Congress from focusing on current energy vulnerabilities and figuring out how Washington should secure our economic and security interests.
Though the United States now imports less oil than it has for more than a dozen years, we should not distance ourselves from international oil markets by pursuing full energy self-sufficiency. The best way to advance energy security is to remain engaged internationally with major energy players.
Read more: http://reut.rs/1iyeOys
Posted February 5, 2014
Newsworthy today: Former U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, speaking at the North American Prospect Expo in Houston, notes that hydraulic fracturing is, in part, the reason America is enjoying an energy boom that is making the country more energy secure and energy self-sufficient. Salazar:
“We know that, from everything we’ve seen, there’s not a single case where hydraulic fracking has created an environmental problem for anyone. We need to make sure that story is told.”
Salazar also said the Keystone XL pipeline is a ‘win-win” for America:
“At the end of the day, we are going to be consuming that oil. So is it better for us to get the oil from our good neighbor from the north, or to be bringing it from some place in the Middle East?”
Posted February 4, 2014
Free the Keystone XL Pipeline, Mr. President
Los Angeles Times: Welcome to the "year of action." In last week's State of the Union address, the president vowed to do whatever he has to help the economy, even if that means working around Congress: "What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require congressional action, and I'm eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still, and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."
The White House has touted the fact the president has a "phone and a pen" and he's not afraid to use them.
The president also vowed to cut red tape, and not for the first time. In 2013's State of the Union, he insisted that "my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits." And in 2012: "In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects."
Read more: http://lat.ms/1eRaGFu