Energy Tomorrow Blog
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 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 16, 2015
Bloomberg: Ending restrictions on U.S. crude exports could cut gasoline prices as much as 12 cents a gallon, a Columbia University study co-written by a former adviser to President Barack Obama has concluded.
Without the partial ban, domestic production might increase as much as 1.2 million barrels a day by 2025, making the U.S. more resilient to global supply disruptions, according to the study.
“Easing energy export restrictions does not raise gasoline prices for consumers,” Jason Bordoff, a former energy and climate adviser to Obama who is now director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, said in a telephone interview.
Posted January 15, 2015
Posted January 12, 2015
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Posted December 31, 2014
So long, 2014. From an energy standpoint, you’ll be missed. Let’s count the ways:
Surging domestic oil and natural gas production – largely thanks to safe hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling – is driving an American energy revolution that’s creating jobs here at home and greater security for the United States in the world.
It’s a revolution with macro-economic and geopolitical impacts, for sure. But it’s also a revolution that’s benefit virtually every American.
Posted December 29, 2014
The Week: One of the biggest stories of 2014 has been the astonishing drop in global oil prices. The price of the benchmark Brent crude went from over $100 per barrel at the beginning of the year to the $60 range as of this writing.
It's worth noting how massive and completely unexpected this price drop has been.
And it's worth noting how good it is for the U.S. economy. The price of oil is one of the biggest drags on consumer demand, the largest driver of the economy.
And to what do we owe this miraculous event?
In a word: fracking.
Posted December 24, 2014
The gift that is American energy is seen in some key numbers: domestic crude oil production reaching more than 9 million barrels per day last month, the highest level in more than two decades, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA); total U.S. net imports of energy as a share of energy consumption falling to their lowest level in nearly 30 years during the first six months of this year; gasoline prices dropping to an average of $2.47 per gallon last week, their lowest point since May 2009, according to the Lundberg Survey Inc.
The first two numbers might not fully register with a lot of Americans. We’ll come back to them. The last one, gasoline prices, does so loudly.
Retail gasoline prices fell after crude oil prices dropped for the fourth straight week – a product of weaker-than-expected global demand and increasing production, which EIA says will save American households $550 next year, Bloomberg News reports. Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey to Bloomberg:
“It is a dramatic boon to fuel consumers. (Gasoline) is a modest portion of our giant gross domestic product and yet it does have a pervasive and festive benefit to motorists.”
During this season of gift-giving and receiving, Americans should give thanks for the gifts of plentiful domestic oil and natural gas, modern technologies to harness them and an industry robust and innovative enough to bring the two together, resulting in surging, home-grown production. Indeed, the dramatic increase in U.S. oil production is the key addition to global supply that’s putting downward pressure on the cost of crude, the No. 1 factor in pump prices.
Posted December 16, 2014
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his allies on the city council deserve credit for putting a stop – for now at least – to an ill-conceived proposal that would mandate the sale of higher ethanol blend E15 fuel at city service stations.
We say ill-conceived because, as argued here and here earlier this year, the E15 requirement could be full of risk for consumers and small business owners – while mainly benefiting ethanol producers. Recently, AAA urged Chicago lawmakers to vote against the ordinance.
Posted December 12, 2014