Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted June 10, 2020
For more than 25 years, natural gas and oil producers have been reusing oilfield water to irrigate farms in southern California. This industry-driven approach, which mixes oilfield and surface water, strengthens agricultural output and resource conservation in the drought-prone Cawelo Water District.
The use of oilfield produced water (OPW) for irrigation is permitted under California Water Board policy, and a new study by researchers at Duke University and RTI International confirms that OPW is “of comparable quality to the local groundwater in the region.” The practice, which does not pose major risks to crop or human health, has benefited farmers faced with increasing water shortages.
Posted June 9, 2020
As businesses reopen across the country, the U.S. economy is beginning to emerge from the widespread shutdowns caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. America’s energy operators are poised to safely and responsibly power our economic recovery, and the latest market data shows that the initial phases are well underway.
While the short-term outlook remains unclear, energy analysts have consistently backed the strength of this industry’s fundamentals, and long-term forecasts signal demand growth for natural gas and oil through the next several decades.
Posted June 4, 2020
EPA has announced its final rule to modernize Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), which will clarify the jurisdiction of states in issuing required water quality certifications. As discussed in this post, the changes will help the timely advance of needed infrastructure projects – which in some instances EPA believes have been delayed or blocked by states exceeding their Section 401 authority.EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the CWA review process has been abused in the past, holding key infrastructure “hostage.”
Posted June 2, 2020
Whenever someone talks about banning offshore oil and natural gas development, as some in Congress have proposed, they miss the fact that offshore oil and gas pays for the country’s most important conservation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
Everyone who cares about coastal restoration, wetlands protection, park upkeep, building hiking paths and other recreational areas should be aware that since 1965 the LWCF has supplied billions of dollars for conservation and environmental projects across the 50 states, from Grand Canyon National Park to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore – almost entirely funded by safe and responsible offshore oil and natural gas development.
The Wilderness Society puts it this way: “The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has been America’s most important conservation funding tool for nearly 50 years.”
Posted May 28, 2020
When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks about building new railroad tunnels under the Hudson River, new subways and airports – as he did Wednesday after a White House meeting with President Trump – he hits the right infrastructure notes – urgency on critical public needs, forming partnerships, getting bureaucracies to move quicker and so on.
Unfortunately, the governor’s bullishness on infrastructure doesn’t extend to natural gas pipelines. Just the opposite. Cuomo and his administration seem to have blocked pipeline projects at every turn – underscoring the need for revisions to the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). I’ll explain.
Posted May 26, 2020
A deadly pandemic and crushed economies are bad ways to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Surprisingly, some environmentalists agree with us on that.
We offer these points in the wake of a new study showing a 17% drop in global carbon dioxide emissions in early April – as world economies were being shuttered to slow the spread of COVID-19 – perhaps to head off those who might be tempted to call a crippling pandemic and reversing two decades of economic growth good climate policy.
Not many folks would say such a thing out loud, because that 17% decrease wasn’t free. Not when you consider the horrifying loss of life and financial devastation that has impacted so many: jobs that might not come back, disposable income that can’t be replaced, businesses that are struggling or have gone under, manufacturing idled. And there’s more: surgeries and other health care put off or canceled, rising levels of depression and a palpable grimness across society.
Posted May 21, 2020
After crude oil futures prices plunged into negative territory for a day last month, there was a good deal of speculation that the same thing could happen this month. Some even pointed to the April futures meltdown as a “doomsday” scenario for U.S. natural gas and oil.
Well, a number of things happened on the way to oil’s “doomsday.”
At the outset, let’s note that what happened with futures in April didn’t repeat this month. Oil futures prices for June delivery of West Texas Intermediate crude, whose contracts expired Tuesday, closed at $32.50 per barrel – about 300% higher than they did for those contracts a month ago. Let’s explore why.
John D. Siciliano
Posted May 20, 2020
Capt. Russell Holmes is the Center for Offshore Safety’s (COS) new director after serving for nearly three decades with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Holmes, who retired from the Coast Guard in 2020, takes over for Charlie Williams, who had led the center since 2012 after a long industry career. Holmes will be taking the center’s mission of offshore safety and environmental protection into its second decade of existence.
The center was created soon after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, the COS has enhanced the safety culture in offshore operations, while supporting federal regulations that mandate Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) at all operations on the Outer Continental Shelf.
Just prior to joining the center, Holmes served as the Coast Guard’s senior point of contact for offshore safety in the Gulf, overseeing marine inspection and investigation programs that ultimately support SEMS. As he explains in the Q&A below, Holmes says the industry’s professionalism and safety commitment matched his while he was serving as one of industry’s lead regulators.
Posted May 19, 2020
Natural gas’ economic competitiveness continues, even amid the highly unexpected market conditions associated with the coronavirus pandemic – outcompeting coal, the No. 2 fuel for power generation.
While consumer electricity use patterns are changing as power demand throughout the country has declined during the coronavirus crisis, natural gas is playing a growing role in meeting that demand.
This shift towards greater reliance on natural gas – along with a corresponding decline in coal-fired generation – has been a key feature of the U.S. power sector for most of the past decade, and the current environment appears to be accelerating this trend. In fact, the coal-to-gas transition is starker during this historic season as lower electricity demand, coupled with low natural gas prices, is providing added incentive for power suppliers.
Posted May 18, 2020
America’s extensive network of pipelines and energy infrastructure safely connects our abundant natural gas and oil resources with refineries, businesses and consumers. The U.S. liquids pipeline system, which stretches more than 218,000 miles, delivered 21.8 billion barrels of crude oil and refined products in 2018 – the essential link between domestic energy and Americans’ daily lives.
The industry’s commitment to safety and sustainability, through industry-led reporting, standards-setting and performance initiatives, has contributed to ongoing improvements in pipeline operations. This month, API and our partner associations released two new reports that show declining pipeline-related incidents and continuous improvement in environmental performance – both enhanced by growing use of safety management systems.