Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted June 10, 2014
New York Times: DENVER — An impassioned national debate over the oil-production technique known as fracking is edging toward the ballot box in Colorado, opening an election-year rift between moderate, energy-friendly Democrats and environmentalists who want to rein in drilling or give local communities the power to outlaw it altogether.
If they make the ballot in November, an array of proposals will be among the first in the nation to ask a state’s voters to sharply limit energy development. Some measures would keep drilling as far as a half-mile from Colorado homes. Others would give individual communities the right to ban fracking.
The ballot measures reflect the anxieties that have accompanied a drilling boom across the West. As drilling sites are built closer to playgrounds and suburban homes in communities along Colorado’s northern plains, residents and environmental groups have called for more regulation and have pushed for moratoriums on drilling.
But in a bellwether state like Colorado, where views on drilling vary as much as the geography, the measures could ignite an all-out battle involving oil companies, business groups and conservationists that pulls in millions in outside money, sets off a rush of campaign ads and spawns lawsuits for years to come. That is why Gov. John W. Hickenlooper and other Democratic leaders are working feverishly on a compromise that would give communities more control of energy development in their backyards while keeping the fracking issue off the ballot.
Posted May 27, 2014
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Mark D. Caskey, president of Steel Nation Steel Buildings, a Washington County company that constructs gas compression stations for energy companies, is no stranger to having doors slammed in his face.
In fact, when he pitched the idea to build such stations to energy companies six years ago, that’s all that happened.
“We tried to talk to every big midstream company, trying to get our foot in the door,” Mr. Caskey said. “We’d knock on their door, they’d meet with us and they’d say, listen, ’You’ve never built a gas compression building before. We’re not going to be your guinea pig.’”
Gas compression stations, he explained, gather gas from wells. They also separate and cool the gas before transporting it to major transmission lines.
In 2008 when Steel Nation opened, the company focused on building prep plants that wash and separate coal for coal companies.
But after a friend from oil and gas company Range Resources took him to a drill site, Mr. Caskey realized he could take his talents to the natural gas industry.
Posted May 12, 2014
But over the past four years, Vitale and Van Blarcom have come to live in different economic worlds.
Vitale’s Organic Farm, located in New York’s Steuben County and beset by what its owner calls high taxes and a regulation-happy state government, has shrunk in size by almost 30 percent. He’s had to sell off land to stay afloat – and it wouldn’t have happened, he said, if the state had let him cash in on the riches buried thousands of feet beneath his property.
Posted May 9, 2014
Preventing spills, preparing for the possibility of spills, responding to incidents and restoration planning were the focus of the 2014 International Oil Spill Conference – a week-long discussion/demonstration of industry’s commitment to safe and responsible energy development and environmental safety. The exercise on the Savannah River shows how robotics, modern communications and other techniques pinpoint a spill’s location while feeding video, photos, water samples and other data to decision makers nearby or half a world away via satellite link.
Posted May 8, 2014
At the heart of the 2014 International Oil Spill Conference (IOSC) in Savannah, Ga., is the exhibitors’ hall where the latest equipment, technologies and services – for spill prevention, preparedness, response and restoration – are on display. This is cutting-edge technology and know-how that’s key to industry’s environmental commitment and sustaining energy development.
The conference hall echoes with conversation. Aisle after aisle is stocked with dozens of display booths featuring the latest in skimmers, scoopers, soakers, detectors, boom manufacturers, deployment equipment, containment receptacles, pumps, amphibious tractor/crawlers and consulting services – including one outfit, Exponent, whose display table giveaway is a light gray, palm-sized squeezable tension/anxiety reducer shaped like a brain. Gray matter. And there’s more, much more.
Posted April 3, 2014
A competitive marketplace is the sowing field for innovation and investment. Look no further than the advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that launched America’s ongoing shale energy revolution. Shale development features cutting-edge technology to increase output and efficiency and to make operations as safe and clean as possible. An example of this can be found in methane emissions.
While some call for government-directed efforts to reduce emissions, industry already is on this – through its own leadership and investments – and is achieving good results.
Posted March 24, 2014
U.S. Energy Boom May Signal New Export Era
Los Angeles Times: In a Louisiana swamp several miles upriver from the Gulf of Mexico, about 3,000 construction workers are building a massive industrial facility to liquefy natural gas, preparing for a new era when the U.S. will begin exporting energy around the globe.
The $12-billion project is one of the largest single industrial investments in the nation, part of a massive transformation of the energy sector that has led to a boom in drilling, transportation and refining from coast to coast.
Five years ago, the idea of exporting U.S. gas and oil was not only unheard of, but, in the case of most U.S. crude oil, illegal. At that time, the United States was facing a future of dwindling domestic supplies and vulnerability to foreign producers. It was anxiously building facilities to import natural gas, worried about ever-higher prices and building much of its foreign policy on the need to secure energy supplies.
But U.S. energy production has boomed with the technological revolution of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and the ability to tap newly accessible massive reserves. The nation surpassed Russia in 2009 as the largest producer of natural gas and is expected to zip past Saudi Arabia next year to become the largest oil producer in the world.
Now, the U.S. energy industry is pushing for a new era of exports.
Posted March 17, 2014
Happy birthday, fracking! What a fantastic, 65-year ride it has been – and here’s to another 65 years and more.
Advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling launched an oil and natural gas renaissance in this country – bringing dynamic job creation, economic stimulus that radiates well beyond the oil and natural gas industry proper and greater energy security. Thanks to fracking, the United States is an energy superpower that, with the right policies, can harness its vast resources to ensure a significantly better future for its citizens while reducing energy-related tension across the globe.
Posted February 25, 2014
American Shale Gas and Tight Oil: Reshaping the Global Energy Balance
IHS Unconventional Energy Blog: The development of shale gas and tight oil in the United States constitutes an “unconventional revolution,” owing to its scale and speed. It is already having a profound global impact: upending energy markets, reshaping competitiveness in the world economy, and portending major shifts in global politics.
The unconventional revolution was born out of advances in two technologies. Hydraulic fracturing — or “fracking” — was introduced at the end of the 1940s. Efforts to apply this technique to dense shale in Texas began in the early 1980s. But it took two decades to perfect the combination of fracking and horizontal drilling that would drive the new boom. And it wasn’t until 2008 that these techniques began to have a major impact.
Since then, however, growth has been remarkable. Shale gas currently accounts for nearly half of U.S. natural gas production, and U.S. prices have fallen to one third of European levels and one-fifth of Asian levels. Tight oil, produced with the same techniques as shale gas, has led to a 60 percent rise in U.S. oil production since 2008. This increase of three million barrels per day is larger than the national output of nine of the 13 OPEC countries. The International Energy Agency predicts that the U.S. will soon overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producer.
Posted February 10, 2014
How the U.S. Energy Boom is Changing America’s Place in the World
Time: It wasn’t even five years ago that Iran reelected hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a disputed presidential election, openly admitted it was building a uranium enrichment facility and brazenly test-fired missiles capable of hitting targets in Israel. Fast-forward to today: A more conciliatory president, Hassan Rouhani, is making historic overtures toward the West and negotiations are showing rare progress toward containing the country’s nuclear program, which has kept the region—and the world—on edge for years.
The difference, according to former Obama administration National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, can be summed up in one word: “fracking.” That’s hydraulic fracturing, the drilling method that’s helped fuel an unprecedented domestic energy boom in the United States.
“There’s a direct line between the U.S.-led sanctions effort to put pressure on Iran” and the flood of oil and gas coming out of the ground at home due to fracking technology, Donilon said Thursday night at an event announcing a new report from the Center for a New American Security, titled “Energy Rush: Shale Production and U.S. National Security.”
Before the North American energy boom—the largest-ever annual increase in domestic oil production took place in 2012—a harsh sanctions regime against Iran looked more like a suicide pact for the oil-import-dependent U.S. Instead, America’s sudden energy abundance dampened the blow of reduced oil exports to the global economy, making truly harsh sanctions on Iran possible.
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