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 15, 2014
A couple of highlights from the first day of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) annual energy conference, both of which can be used to underscore the need for policies that help sustain and grow America’s energy revolution.
First, International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven suggested exuberance over the U.S. energy boom has risks because energy security is more than just ample supply:
“In periods of abundance we must challenge ourselves with questions. And so I ask you, is your energy security as security as you or I think? … Energy security is about much more than supply. … Although things look bright at first sight, there’s no time for complacency.”
Posted July 3, 2014
Forbes (David Blackmon) – As we prepare to celebrate our nation’s Declaration of Independence on Friday, it would also be appropriate to take a moment to celebrate those states who are currently leading our nation down the path towards energy independence. No issue facing America today is more important than where we will continue to access sources of abundant and affordable energy.
Energy heats and cools our homes and office buildings, fuels the automobiles that get us to work, facilitates the growing and transport of the food that sustains us, serves as the feed stock for thousands of products that make our daily lives more convenient and raise our standard of living. It is literally the life blood of our economy, and has been for more than 150 years.
Posted June 30, 2014
Washington Post Editorial: Quietly but wisely, the Commerce Department has decided to allow the first exports of U.S. crude oil since Congress imposed a ban on such sales (except to Canada) in the 1970s. To be sure, the agency’s ruling amounts to redefining crude in a way that applies only to a form of ultralight oil that U.S. refineries are ill-equipped to process. The executive branch couldn’t do much more than that to expand crude exports without congressional permission. Still, Commerce’s move is a step in the right direction because resuming oil sales abroad could help the U.S. economy reap the full fruits of the shale revolution that has propelled this country back into the top ranks of global oil and gas production.
The origins of the ban lie in the long-gone political and economic issues of the Nixon era. Specifically, the United States banned oil exports in response to the declining domestic production and Middle East supply shocks of that time, which, together with the then-existing system of U.S. price controls, made it seem rational to keep U.S.-produced oil at home rather than let it flow to the highest bidder on the world market. The world has changed dramatically since then; with U.S. production booming, this country is in a position to move the world market. Yet some still defend the export ban on the grounds that it holds down the price of crude to U.S. refineries and, by extension, the price of gasoline at U.S. pumps.
A new report by IHS Global explains why that thinking is outmoded.
Posted June 26, 2014
It’s good to see the U.S. House of Representatives advancing a true all-of-the-above energy strategy with legislation that would help increase access to domestic reserves, promote common-sense regulation and reasonable permitting policies, foster development of key energy infrastructure and capitalize on America’s energy superpower status.
All are elements in a working, all-of-the-above approach to energy. Combined with energy from coal, nuclear and renewables, increased development of American oil and natural gas and associated infrastructure will keep our economy and country running – today and tomorrow.
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
Coloradoan: Loveland voters on Tuesday struck down a proposed moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial oil and gas extraction process that has been restricted in several cities along Colorado’s Front Range.
More than 20,000 ballots were cast, but ultimately the moratorium failed by about 900 votes, said city spokesman Tom Hacker. Results came in just after 10 p.m., making the Loveland election one of the last Colorado races to be decided Tuesday .
“Fortunately that means the Loveland citizens have spoken and that common sense prevailed,” said BJ Nikkel, director of the Loveland Energy Action Project, a group that campaigned against the moratorium.
Posted June 20, 2014
Houston Chronicle: Oil, natural gas and coal have boosted living conditions around the globe, but policies to replace those fossil fuels "with inferior energy sources" could undermine those improvements, a former Texas environmental regulator argues.
In a 36-page paper - "Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case" - Kathleen Hartnett White, former chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, insists that access to oil, natural gas and coal are inextricably linked with prosperity and well-being.
Policies targeting heat-trapping greenhouse gases - including the Environmental Protection Agency's new plan for throttling carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants - overlook "the inestimable human benefits of fossil fuels," White says.
"Energy-dense, abundant, versatile, reliable, portable, and affordable, fossil fuels provide over 80 percent of the world's energy because they are superior to the current alternatives," White writes.
Posted June 19, 2014
Bloomberg: North Dakota, which yesterday became just the fourth state to record oil production above 1 million barrels a day, could see even stronger growth over the summer as improved weather makes life easier for drilling crews.
Output increased to 1,001,149 barrels a day in April, the state’s Department of Mineral Resources reported yesterday. Texas, California and Alaska have crossed the million-barrel mark. Only Texas remains above the state, at almost 3 million barrels a day.
April oilfield work was hampered by heavy rain that shut roads and strong winds that closed down operations. Crews completed 200 wells during the month, and another 600 are already drilled and just waiting on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Better weather in the summer months should allow more new wells to start gushing oil.
Posted June 16, 2014
FT.com – Despite jitters over Iraq, the price of oil is at its most stable since the early 1970s, as a huge increase in US oil production offsets massive disruptions to supply from places such as Libya, according to BP.
Christof Rühl, group chief economist, said the world had seen a cumulative 3m barrels a day of supply disruption since the start of the 2011 Arab uprising but that had been “cancelled out” by a similar extra amount of US production.
“There has been an almost perfect match between outages in north Africa and elsewhere and US production growth,” he said. The equilibrium had created an “eerie quiet” in global oil markets.