Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted September 8, 2015
It looks like last week’s U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report pointing out the benefits of exporting domestic crude oil is pushing Washington policymakers closer to ending the 1970s-era ban on exports. McClatcheyDC reports:
Momentum is growing to lift the 40-year ban on exporting U.S. oil to foreign nations, with a federal report concluding that doing so wouldn’t raise gasoline prices. Congress could vote on proposals when it returns from its summer vacation after Labor Day. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said he has “green lights” from the House Republican leadership, and is confident the House will pass a bill on ending the ban this fall. “It is up to this Congress to examine the issue and move towards a better policy that reflects the reality of America today, not the America of 1975,” Barton said in an email.
It may be that EIA’s report marks “critical mass” in terms of how much research backing crude exports is needed to move the needle in Washington – saying, as a number of previous studies projected – that exporting U.S. oil won’t negatively affect consumers and will spur domestic production. EIA’s report addresses the White House’s chief concern, about the impact of a policy change on U.S. energy prices. And this week an important House subcommittee is scheduled to vote on legislation that would lift the export ban.
Posted September 4, 2015
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that the average retail price for regular gasoline on Aug. 31 was $2.51 per gallon – the lowest price for the Monday before Labor Day since 2004 and 95 cents lower than the Monday before Labor Day last year. EIA explains:
Declines in crude oil prices are the main driver behind falling U.S. gasoline prices. Lower crude oil prices reflect concerns about economic growth in emerging markets, expectations of higher oil exports from Iran, and continuing actual and expected growth in global crude oil inventories.
Certainly, the global markets for a variety of commodities may be influenced by concerns, feelings and inklings of one kind or another. Let’s focus on the tangible reason EIA cites for lower global crude prices – hence, lower prices at U.S. pumps: growth in global crude oil inventories. That refers to production and supply to the market. The story behind that story is that over the past six or seven years, the United States has led the world’s top suppliers of petroleum and other liquids in production and rate of production growth.
Posted September 1, 2015
Some quick points from the new crude oil exports study from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA):
First, like a series of other studies before it, EIA’s study finds that lifting America’s 1970s-era ban on exporting domestic crude oil would not negatively affect U.S. consumers. EIA says:
Petroleum product prices in the United States, including gasoline prices, would be either unchanged or slightly reduced by the removal of current restrictions on crude oil exports.
EIA projects that ending the export ban – which would allow shut-in domestic crude to access global crude oil markets – would spur more domestic production. Then the global supply/demand would become “looser,” putting downward pressure on global crude prices, resulting in “lower petroleum product prices for U.S. consumers.
Posted August 31, 2015
More about last week’s Commerce Department decision to allow U.S. crude oil swaps with Mexico – basically, a positive step in the direction of lifting America’s 1970s-era ban on exporting domestic crude.
An analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says the exchange of light U.S. oil for heavier Mexican oil will generate economic and environmental benefits. The economic piece certainly is consistent with a number of studies that say lifting the ban and exporting domestic crude will generate broad benefits for our economy and savings at the pump for U.S. consumers, while spurring domestic production.
Posted August 27, 2015
For as long as most younger Americans can recall, the United States has been barred from exporting crude oil – a self-inflicted sanction that’s at odds with our historical role as a global leader in both free trade and oil production. For them, that’s the way it has always been – the U.S. unilaterally excluding itself from the world’s most important energy marketplace.
Yet, history, economics and security imperatives all argue that it shouldn’t stay that way. Rather, U.S. oil exports policy should be restored to its former posture, to realign policy with this reality: America’s shale energy revolution, the most recent in a series of world-changing energy events, affords the U.S. a great opportunity, and that the U.S. should pursue every means possible to harness that revolution’s benefits – including resuming the export of domestic crude.
To start, policymakers must acknowledge a couple of things: First, that maintaining the oil export ban that was imposed after the 1973 embargo is hurting U.S. competitiveness in the global economy and limiting the benefits that could and should accrue to an energy superpower.
Posted August 24, 2015
Two items from the weekend help sharpen the focus a strategic choice before Americans as they look to the future: Which energy path will we take?
One path leads to increased domestic energy development. It’s typified by safe and responsible oil and natural gas production that harnesses America’s energy wealth to create jobs, grow the economy and make the U.S. more secure in the world.
Another path likely would lead to very little of the above. It’s characterized by unnecessary regulation and self-limiting policies that hinder or block domestic development. America would be less secure, economically and in the world, and our allies, too.
The two paths, two very different futures – for American energy and America.
Posted August 17, 2015
Late last week the Obama administration gave the go-ahead for limited domestic crude oil exports to Mexico, a positive move on oil exports – yet one that immediately underscores this question: Why stop there?
According to the Associated Press, license applications approved by the Commerce Department allow the exchange of similar amounts of U.S. and Mexican crude, a swap. The U.S. would send an as-yet unspecified amount of light crude to Mexico in exchange for heavier Mexican crude. AP:
While the Commerce Department simultaneously rejected other applications for crude exports that violated the ban, the move to allow trading with Mexico marked a significant shift and an additional sign that the Obama administration may be open to loosening the export ban. Exchanges of oil are one of a handful of exemptions permitted under the export ban put in place by Congress.
Two things: First, the arrangement with Mexico, while limited in scope, nonetheless is the administration affirming the inherent benefits of trade. The light crude in the deal represents some of the domestic oil that’s accumulating and trading at a discount to global prices, unable to reach the world market because it’s shut in by an outdated, anti-competitive oil exports ban. Second, the U.S. needs to go further.
Posted August 14, 2015
We’ve put up a number of posts recently that argue for lifting the United States’ decades-old ban on exporting domestic crude oil – citing sound economic, trade and security reasons. Underlying them all is this: As an energy superpower, America will see more benefits here at home, be more secure and help make the world safer if U.S. crude is allowed to trade freely in the global marketplace.
Now, there is a compelling, market reason for urgency in ending the export ban – a self-sanctioning relic of the 1970s that hinders U.S. global competitiveness while impeding domestic energy development and economic growth. That would be the impacts on global crude markets if/when Iran resumes exporting oil under the proposed nuclear agreement the White House is advancing.
Posted August 12, 2015
Add MIT professor and former CIA director John Deutch to the bipartisan list of those calling for an end to the ban on U.S. crude oil exports.
Deutch, a National Petroleum Council member who served in a number of posts during the Carter, Clinton and Obama administrations, argues in the Wall Street Journal that exporting domestic crude would grow U.S. jobs and increase American influence in world oil markets. Deutch writes:
The bottom line is that the U.S. has the potential to export large amounts of oil and refined products.
Posted August 11, 2015
The U.S. Commerce Department’s recent mid-year trade report illustrates how surging domestic oil and natural gas production is helping our economy – and strongly suggests what increased domestic output could do if U.S. crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) had unhindered access to global markets.
According to Commerce, the U.S. trade deficit among petroleum and petroleum products fell 56.1 percent the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of 2014 (exhibit 9). That growth helped hold the total U.S. year-over-year trade balance steady, even as the trade deficit in non-petroleum products increased 23.1 percent. API Chief Economist John Felmy:
“Despite a very competitive global market, the U.S. energy revolution continues to push our trade balance in a positive direction. Oil imports remain on the decline, and strong exports of petroleum and refined products are creating new opportunities for America to bring wealth and jobs back to U.S. shores.”
For that trend to continue, though, the United States must pursue energy trading opportunities with the same vigor it pursues trade in other areas. A 1970s-era ban on crude oil exports should be lifted, and LNG export projects should be approved by the government so that domestic producers have every chance to access global markets.