Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted June 9, 2015
BP Magazine – Why is natural gas the fuel of the future? Despite pressures on the industry today – with gas prices down and capital investment under pressure – longer term trends still point to the increasing significance of natural gas in the energy mix. BP Magazine looks at some of the numbers behind the story of the world’s strongest-growing and cleanest fossil fuel.
Over the next 20 years, natural gas is expected to catch up with oil and coal and emerge as the main hydrocarbon component of a more sustainable energy mix. The fastest-growing fossil fuel – which is primarily methane – is mainly used for power generation, as well as in homes, offices, shops and other commercial locations for heating and cooling. It’s also a raw material in the production of fertilizer and other chemicals – and it is sometimes used as a fuel for transport as well.
Posted June 8, 2015
Platts (The Barrel Blog) – When OPEC left production unchanged in November last year many understood it to be US or Canadian tight oil producers who would suffer, but thanks to technological advances — to paraphrase Mark Twain — the reports of the death of the tight boom have been greatly exaggerated.
After OPEC’s announcement of stable production, crude prices fell under $50/b, and the obituaries began to be written.
But lower prices forced companies to become hyper-vigilant on costs, and the result was the opposite of what may have been intended. US and Canadian production continued to grow, and E&P companies became leaner and more efficient — leading to a more competitive industry.
The savings from technological advances and more efficient internal processes, unlike the drop in rig dayrates that could rise again when the market turns, will be a more permanent feature of the North American oil market.
The numbers tell the story. The North American oil rig count dropped from its peak in early October at 1,609 to 646 for the week-ending May 29, yet productions is headed in the opposite direction — US oil output hit 9.586 million b/d, its highest daily rate since the EIA began weekly production reports in 1983. The EIA recently forecast another million b/d of oil production growth until it peaks in 2020 at 10.603 million b/d.
Posted June 5, 2015
New York Post – Six months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned fracking as too hazardous, the federal government released a report Thursday saying there’s no evidence the drilling practice has caused widespread harm to drinking water in the United States.
“Based on available scientific information, we found out that hydraulic fracturing activities in United States are carried out in a way that has not had widespread systemic impact on drinking-water resources,” said Thomas Burke, deputy assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“It is a new lens, so we can all make better decisions about public health.”
The report, issued in draft form after three years of study, cautioned that safeguards are still needed because some drinking water has been contaminated.
“The number of documented impacts on groundwater resources is relatively low,” Burke said.
Posted June 4, 2015
CNBC – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a Thursday report that it found no evidence fracking has a “widespread” impact on drinking water.
The EPA report concluded that there are above and below ground mechanisms by which fracking have the potential to impact drinking water resources, but that the number of identified cases were “small” compared to the number of fracking wells.
“We did not find evidence that these mechanisms [of potentially affecting water] have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States,” the report said.
Posted June 3, 2015
The Hill: House Republicans have found reasons to agree with some parts of the Obama administration’s energy infrastructure proposal.
GOP leaders in the House Energy and Commerce Committee told Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz that they are largely in agreement on the need to improve pipelines, electric transmission lines, energy storage and other pieces of infrastructure.
Moniz testified at the hearing to promote the Quadrennial Energy Review, which the administration released in April to call for comprehensive infrastructure improvements worth billions of dollars.
“Many people are even asking — not surprisingly — is there enough common ground between our efforts and the Obama administration to enact meaningful energy legislation,” Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the energy and power subcommittee, said at the Tuesday hearing.
Posted June 2, 2015
The Huffington Post (Sean McGarvey): The American job market is the best it's been in six years, according to the latest government data. The jobless rate is below 6 percent for the first time since 2008.
And in 2013, the United States became the world's top producer of oil and natural gas – surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia.
This U.S. energy boom is creating many new jobs here in America, and it's a leading contributor to American workers' vaulting out of the unemployment line and into the middle class. Our leaders must continue to support domestic energy exploration, which is proving our nation's strongest job-growth engine.
According to the American Petroleum Institute, investments in updating U.S. energy infrastructure alone could generate an estimated $1.14 trillion in capital investments – creating both jobs and energy savings from now until 2025.
Posted May 29, 2015
Reuters: The U.S. Congress could lift the 40-year old ban on domestic crude oil exports within a year as a drop in gasoline prices and the potential return of Iranian oil to global markets makes it an easier measure for politicians to support, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said on Thursday.
U.S. gasoline prices have dropped since last year along with global crude prices, thanks to strong crude output from the United States, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. On Thursday, the U.S. average for regular gasoline at the pump was nearly $2.74 a gallon, down from $3.65 a year ago, according to the AAA motorist club.
If that remains the case, it has the potential to allay politicians' fears that they could be blamed any rise in gasoline prices if the crude oil export ban was lifted. If talks between six global powers and Tehran on Iran's nuclear program reach a deal on June 30, sanctions on Iran's oil exports could be removed soon after. That could also put pressure on global oil and U.S. gasoline prices.
Posted May 28, 2015
Time: As the battle wages on in Congress over President Barack Obama’s signature trade agreements and the needed fast-track trade promotion authority (TPA), the president would be wise to consider alternatives that would enhance his trade legacy and also further our strategic priorities overseas. While energy is not included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations, many of the same Asian, European, and Latin American partners are calling for greater partnership with the United States on energy issues. By allowing the U.S. to become a stable source of supply to global energy markets, counteracting supply disruptions that will inevitably affect other energy-rich regions, President Obama and Congress can double down on promoting long-term economic growth and reinforcing U.S. foreign policy leadership.
The U.S. can do more with its energy resources to support this strategic vision. A direct way of leveraging this opportunity is to lift the ban on the export of crude oil and accelerate approvals for the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG). A series of policies and laws in the 1970s banned exports of U.S. crude oil with only limited exceptions. This ban is a relic from an age of energy scarcity and should be adjusted to reflect present realities. By working with Congress, and via executive order, the president can start taking steps today to boost U.S. exports.
Posted May 27, 2015
Wall Street Journal commentary (Engler and McGarvey): America’s business and labor leaders agree: President Obama and Congress can do more to modernize the permitting process for infrastructure projects—airports, factories, power plants and pipelines—which at the moment is burdensome, slow and inconsistent.
Gaining approval to build a new bridge or factory typically involves review by multiple federal agencies—such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Interior Department, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Land Management—with overlapping jurisdictions and no real deadlines. Often, no single federal entity is responsible for managing the process. Even after a project is granted permits, lawsuits can hold things up for years—or, worse, halt a half-completed construction project.
Posted May 20, 2015
The Wall Street Journal (Leon Panetta and Stephen Hadley): The United States faces a startling array of global security threats, demanding national resolve and the resolve of our closest allies in Europe and Asia. Iran’s moves to become a regional hegemon, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and conflicts driven by Islamic terrorism throughout the Middle East and North Africa are a few of the challenges calling for steadfast commitment to American democratic principles and military readiness. The pathway to achieving U.S. goals also can be economic—as simple as ensuring that allies and friends have access to secure supplies of energy.
Blocking access to these supplies is the ban on exporting U.S. crude oil that was enacted, along with domestic price controls, after the 1973 Arab oil embargo. The price controls ended in 1981 but the export ban lives on, though America is awash in oil.
The U.S. has broken free of its dependence on energy from unstable sources. Only 27% of the petroleum consumed here last year was imported, the lowest level in 30 years. Nearly half of those imports came from Canada and Mexico. But our friends and allies, particularly in Europe, do not enjoy the same degree of independence. The moment has come for the U.S. to deploy its oil and gas in support of its security interests around the world.