Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted January 4, 2016
As we write, the United States is once again an exporter of crude oil. Sure, in the past the federal government has allowed limited crude exports. The oil tanker that left the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, late last week is the bearer of the first freely traded U.S. crude in about four decades – made possible by congressional legislation that President Obama signed to end a 1970s-era ban on exports. It’s a new day indeed.
But wait, there’s more. Cheniere Energy says it has begun liquefying natural gas at its new export terminal in Louisiana, setting the stage for its first LNG export cargo this month.
Both are big-time energy developments for the United States – opportunities created by a domestic energy revolution largely driven by safely harnessing vast shale reserves with advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.
Posted December 22, 2015
Lifting the ban is also a security win for the U.S. and our allies. With the administration’s push to allow Iran to export its oil to the global market, it’s time for U.S. producers to have the same opportunity. Our allies around the world are eager to reduce their reliance on energy from less friendly nations.
Posted December 15, 2015
That Congress soon may act to end the United States’ 40-year-old ban on domestic crude oil exports is signaled in the number of reports and posts on exports-related themes.
The Wall Street Journal has a report that talk of lifting the export ban is narrowing the difference between U.S. and global crude prices. The Council on Foreign Relations’ Michael Levi has this post discussing the impact of an exports deal on markets, the recent climate deal and geopolitics. National Journal reports on the legislative horse-trading some think could be part of lifting the exports ban. And there’s more.
Posted December 9, 2015
The U.S. shale energy revolution is a game-changer – for the United States and the world’s energy balance. The U.S. has become the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas, resulting from a domestic energy renaissance driven by advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling – fracking. And the positive impacts are all around us.
U.S. crude imports are down, and American energy self-sufficiency is up. An America that’s more energy self-sufficient is more secure. Meanwhile, the global crude market is better supplied and more stable – thanks to the availability of crude that would have been imported to the U.S. Domestic pump prices reflect this well-supplied market. At the same time, greater use of natural gas has increased each American household’s disposable income by $1,200, and IHS says the benefit will grow to more than $3,500 in 2025. Thanks, fracking.
Posted December 8, 2015
The economy-wide arguments in favor of lifting America’s 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports are detailed in a number of recent studies. Some of ICF International’s numbers: up to 300,000 additional jobs in 2020 when crude exports are allowed; up to a $38 billion increase in U.S. GDP in 2020; $5.8 billion in estimated reduced consumer fuel costs per year, on average, 2015-2035; $15 billion to $70 billion of additional investments in U.S. exploration, development and production, 2015-2020; and a $13.5 billion increase in federal, state and local tax receipts attributable to GDP increases from expanding crude oil exports in 2020.
The economic boost is state and local as well. A study of the state-by-state impacts of lifting the crude oil export ban by ICF and EnSys Energy shows the economies in nearly every state would receive a boost in 2020, with nine state’s economies increasing by more than $1 billion. In addition, 18 states would gain more than 5,000 jobs each in 2020, according to the study.
Posted December 7, 2015
t’s good that Congress appears to be talking seriously about ending the United States’ four-decades-old ban on crude oil exports. Reports say Democrats and Republicans are discussing a deal that would include lifting the export ban – though it’s unclear what a specific deal would look like. “We need to have a conversation” about oil exports, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin told Politico. “We need to have a fair negotiation.”
Of course, we’ve been having a conversation about the merits of lifting the exports ban for some time. And it starts with this: Every major study on the issue has found that exporting U.S. crude oil would be good for America and Americans. The benefits range from those to consumers, to the economy, to American security to domestic energy production. According to the research, ending the outdated ban would positively impact all of the above.
Posted November 18, 2015
Interesting analysis on energy independence in the Wall Street Journal by Columbia University’s Jason Bordoff, a former energy adviser to President Obama. It’s a good thing the United States isn’t energy independent, Bordoff writes. That’ll get your attention, right?
As Bordoff explains, “energy independence” is a dusty concept from the 1970s and 80s, after policymakers made it a goal to end U.S. reliance on global crude suppliers after the 1973 oil embargo. It didn’t happen. To the contrary, U.S. imports steadily climbed in the 1990s and 2000s before the significant increases in domestic production, thanks to abundant American shale energy reserves and advanced hydraulic fracturing.
Now, with U.S. energy output surging, the inclination among some is to keep that energy here at home by maintaining the 1970s-era ban on crude oil exports, believing that it lessens others’ ability to disrupt our oil supplies. But Bordoff writes that an “isolationist” approach on energy misunderstands the reality that today’s global energy market is highly integrated and that the interconnectedness of the market has helped the U.S. compensate for supply disruptions here at home and overseas. “Free trade in a highly integrated global energy market made us more secure,” he writes.
Posted November 2, 2015
When the Energy Policy and Conservation Act was signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1975, Ford said it would put the United States “solidly on the road to energy independence.” The legislation included a ban on most exports of domestically produced crude oil. For many, shutting in domestic oil production – effectively self-sanctioning a vital U.S. industrial sector from the global marketplace – seemed like a good idea. At the time.
The country had been roiled by an oil embargo imposed by exporting states in response to U.S. support for Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Americans learned the meaning of oil shock – long lines for gasoline, odd/even day rationing schedules, shortages and rising prices. The Federal Reserve’s Michael Corbett writes that the embargo nearly quadrupled the price of a barrel of oil to $11.65 – quaintly low in 2015 dollars, but economically crippling four decades ago.
Posted October 29, 2015
Lacking factual, substantial reasons for keeping the United States’ antiquated ban on crude oil exports, those who oppose letting U.S. crude reach the global marketplace are left to make a non-factual, unsubstantial case instead.
In a letter to the editor in the New York Times, the Sierra Club’s Michael Brune offers up a couple of scary fictions – in time for Halloween – to distract Americans from the stark, “off oil” agenda that Brune and many others advocate: a harsher, less healthy, less hospitable world minus the reliable, affordable fuels that are fundamental to modern living.
API President and CEO Jack Gerard recently called them out for the false choice that’s central to their advocacy:
“There is a vocal minority who believe that instead of growing our economy to lift people out of poverty we should reduce our current standard of living and cap our potential. We reject this notion and encourage policy makers to continue down the path we have shown to work, supplying abundant, affordable, and reliable energy to consumers while lowering our impact on the environment.”
Posted October 27, 2015
Reports by Bloomberg and others say that White House and congressional budget negotiators would sell oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to partially pay for their new budget agreement. Sales would total 58 million barrels from 2018 to 2025, according to a draft House bill (see Section 403-a).
How much money would be raised from the sales would depend on prices at the time of the sales. But, if the goal is generating revenue for government to fund worthy projects, rather than a series of one-time sales, why not lift the ban on U.S. crude oil exports and create an annual revenue stream?
According to a study by ICF International (Page 86), ending the 1970s-era oil exports ban would lift the U.S. economy, create jobs – and generate significant additional revenue for government. A number of other studies mirror ICF’s findings on the economic benefits from lifting the export ban. We highlight ICF here because its estimate of additional oil production from lifting the ban (up 500,000 barrels per day) is almost identical to the output increase estimated by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (470,000 barrels per day). ICF:Federal, state, and local governments benefit from crude oil exports both in terms of the generation of GDP, which is then taxed at these levels, but also through royalties on federal lands where drilling takes place. Total government revenues, including U.S. federal, state, and local tax receipts attributable to GDP increases from expanding crude oil exports, could increase up to $13.5 billion in 2020.