Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted April 16, 2015
The Wall Street Journal: A former White House economic adviser is calling for changes to a 2005 law mandating increased use of alternative fuels in the nation’s transportation supply, adding a key voice to a growing chorus of people who say the policy is not working.
In a report published Thursday, Harvard University professor Jim Stock, who served on President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers in 2013 and 2014, proposes several reforms to the biofuels mandate, known as the renewable fuel standard, including some requiring congressional approval.
The report adds to a growing body of politicians and experts who are questioning the law’s effectiveness amid regulatory uncertainty and lower oil prices.
Posted April 7, 2015
Following on yesterday’s post on increased domestic energy production that is backing out imports, we see that the U.S. remained No. 1 in the world in the production of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The government agency responsible for quantifying all things energy says that U.S. oil and natural gas production has been trending higher than the output of Russia and Saudi Arabia, the second- and third-largest producers:
Since 2008, U.S. petroleum production has increased by more than 11 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), with dramatic growth in Texas and North Dakota. Despite the 50% decline in crude oil prices that occurred in the second half of last year, U.S. petroleum production still increased by 3 quadrillion Btu (1.6 million barrels per day) in 2014. Natural gas production—largely from the eastern United States—increased by 5 quadrillion Btu (13.9 billion cubic feet per day) over the past five years. Combined hydrocarbon output in Russia increased by 3 quadrillion Btu and in Saudi Arabia by 4 quadrillion Btu over the past five years.
Posted April 6, 2015
MarketWatch: U.S. oil production is on track to reach an annual all-time high by September of this year, according to Rystad Energy.
If production does indeed top out, then supply levels may soon hit a peak as well. That, in turn, could lead to shrinking supplies.
The oil-and-gas consulting-services firm estimates an average 2015 output of 9.65 million barrels a day will be reached in five months — topping the previous peak annual reading of 9.64 million barrels a day in 1970.
Coincidentally, the nation’s crude inventories stand at a record 471.4 million barrels, based on data from U.S. Energy Information Administration, also going back to the 1970s.
Posted March 20, 2015
The case for lifting the 1970s-era ban on U.S. crude oil exports, in a nutshell:
The ban is a relic of the past, of an era when the U.S. was producing less and less of its own oil and importing more and more of oil produced by others. Crude exports would add to global crude supplies, putting downward pressure on the cost of crude. A number of studies project that lifting the export ban would lower domestic gasoline prices. Exports would stimulate domestic production, protecting U.S. jobs and creating more in the future. Exports would strengthen U.S. economic power that underlies American global influence.
There are more reasons, more details to the affirmative export case, a number of which were aired at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing this week. In its totality, it’s a strong, strong case.
Posted March 16, 2015
Denver Business Journal: The boom in oil and natural gas production in North America, largely due to the new technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, is changing the balance of power across the world, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice told attendees at the Vail Global Energy Forum.
Rice opened a two-day forum, which continues through Sunday, with remarks on Friday evening at the Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Vail. The forum, now in its third year, is growing. Nearly 400 people registered for the 2015 event, a 20 percent increase over the previous year, organizers said.
Posted March 3, 2015
ConocoPhillips Chairman and CEO Ryan Lance applies some uncomplicated logic to the question of whether the United States should lift its 1970s-era ban on exporting domestic crude oil. “We should treat crude oil like any other potential product export,” Lance said at an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
As he did during a January visit to Washington, Lance laid out compelling reasons for lifting the crude oil export ban: An abundance of domestic light crude produced from shale is mismatched for a U.S. refining sector that’s largely configured to process heavier crudes, exporting crude would give producers access to the global market, helping to sustain domestic production and U.S. industry jobs, and exports would add supply to the global market, helping stabilize it and affording the U.S. new opportunities to exert positive influences in the world.
Posted January 23, 2015
Earlier this month, then-White House advisor John Podesta said the Obama administration is unlikely to do more on the U.S. crude oil export ban beyond the Commerce Department’s recent effort to clarify the rules for exporting ultra-light crude known as condensates. Podesta told Reuters:
“At this stage, I think that what the Commerce Department did in December sort of resolves the debate. We felt comfortable with where they went. If you look at what's going on in the market and actions that the Department took, I think that ... there's not a lot of pressure to do more.”
It’s a strange conclusion given the weight of scholarship that says America’s 1970s ban on crude exports should be lifted – to spur domestic production, create jobs and put downward pressure on U.S. gasoline prices. It also would solve a growing mismatch between supplies of light sweet domestic crude and a refinery sector that’s largely configured to handle heavier crudes. ConocoPhillips Chairman and CEO Ryan Lance, speaking recently at the Center for Strategic and International Studies:
“(The condensates decision is) a help. … I question whether we’ll ever grow to a million barrels a day of condensate production, so it helps, but it doesn’t solve the problem. It doesn’t answer the issue that we’re going to have coming at us as a nation … crude that our refineries cannot refine. So it’s a help, but by no stretch does it solve the problem. We have to address the bigger issue.”
Posted January 20, 2015
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The new year has seen crude oil prices continue to stumble and U.S. oil production continue to soar, and those trends are not likely to subside — at least in the short term.
Total U.S. crude oil production reached 9.1 million barrels per day (bbl/d) during the week ending Jan. 9, an increase over last year’s total of 8.1 million, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
And that figure is expected to grow. The agency forecasts total crude production will average 9.3 million barrels per day in 2015 and climb to 9.5 million in 2016, “which would be the second-highest annual average level of production in U.S. history; the highest was 9.6 million bbl/d in 1970,” the EIA said in its short-term energy outlook released last week.
Posted December 31, 2014
Business Day: For years, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) pulled the strings set the price of oil and controlled the supply. After dictating the course of oil prices for more than 50 years, OPEC is finding its influence diminished.
Right now, OPEC represents about 40 percent of global daily production. The organization still has a say in what the energy market looks like. But for OPEC, oil can no longer be used as either a weapon or as a lever. There is simply too much production arising beyond the control of OPEC.
For 2015, US will emerge as dominant player. OPEC member countries are gradually losing the largest energy market in the world and the irony is that they will soon be competing for the markets that used to be theirs for the taking. Projections from recent happenings reveal that in 2015 the US will start dictating to the market. With the advent in 2015 of large US exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the effect is even larger, and with it comes the hastening of OPEC’s decline.
Posted December 4, 2014
National Journal: World oil producers have put oil prices into a free fall, refusing to pare back global supplies in the hopes that low prices will derail the fracking-backed production boom in the U.S. and preserve OPEC's power over world energy markets.
But global analysts are skeptical that the move will work.
The basic reason: Prices remain high enough to keep pumping. "Looking out there, it seems like there's a huge amount of oil that can be produced at $60, $70 per barrel," said Michael Lynch, president of consulting firm Strategic Energy and Economic Research, referring to the prices for Brent crude oil, a global reference point.