Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted October 28, 2014
Real Clear Politics: Few policy objectives over the last half-century have proven as tantalizing for presidents as the call to achieve energy independence.
In 1973 -- as a gasoline shortage consumed the nation -- President Richard Nixon outlined Project Independence 1980, “a series of plans and goals set to insure that by the end of this decade, Americans will not have to rely on any source of energy beyond our own.” Gerald Ford, in his 1975 State of the Union address, called for “a massive program” to ease demand and increase supply “to achieve the independence we want by 1985.” Jimmy Carter, more modestly, aimed for the United States to cut its dependence on foreign oil by half by the end of the 1980s.
Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all set similar goals at different points in their presidential campaigns or presidencies. Typically, their political opponents did too. Little serious progress toward those goals was achieved during most of their terms in office.
Posted October 20, 2014
Shale Boom Helping American Consumers as Never Before
Bloomberg: Oil traders might see the 27 percent slide in global prices as a bear market. For U.S. consumers, it’s more like an early holiday gift.
Posted October 14, 2014
A new study by the Aspen Institute joins a series of analyses concluding that one benefit from exporting U.S. crude oil would be lower gasoline prices here at home. Aspen’s projected reduction of between 3 and 9 cents per gallon parallels findings in previous major studies by ICF International (3.8 cents per gallon), IHS (8 cents) and Brookings/NERA (7 to 12 cents) that exports would lower pump prices.
Aspen and the other studies project other benefits from exporting crude oil, including broad job creation, economic growth and increased domestic energy production. Yet the solidifying consensus that consumers also would benefit is critically important as the public policy debate on oil exports continues.
Posted October 8, 2014
New York Times: HOUSTON — The Singapore-flagged tanker BW Zambesi set sail with little fanfare from the port of Galveston, Tex., on July 30, loaded with crude oil destined for South Korea. But though it left inauspiciously, the ship’s launch was another critical turning point in what has been a half-decade of tectonic change for the American oil industry.
The 400,000 barrels the tanker carried represented the first unrestricted export of American oil to a country outside of North America in nearly four decades. The Obama administration insisted there was no change in energy trade policy, perhaps concerned about the reaction from environmentalists and liberal members of Congress with midterm elections coming. But many energy experts viewed the launch as the curtain raiser for the United States’ inevitable emergence as a major world oil exporter, an improbable return to a status that helped make the country a great power in the first half of the 20th century.
“The export shipment symbolizes a new era in U.S. energy and U.S. energy relations with the rest of the world,” said Daniel Yergin, the energy historian. “Economically, it means that money that was flowing out of the United States into sovereign wealth funds and treasuries around the world will now stay in the U.S. and be invested in the U.S., creating jobs. It doesn’t change everything, but it certainly provides a new dimension to U.S. influence in the world.”
Posted October 7, 2014
Reuters: As oil production swells, demand falters and prices slide, the global oil market appears on the verge of a pivotal shift from an era of scarcity to one of abundance.
Oil prices have fallen as much as 20 percent since June, despite a host of rising supply risks, leading more investors and traders to consider whether 2015 is the year in which the U.S. shale oil boom finally tips the world into surplus.
While the plunge has rekindled speculation that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) may need to cut output for the first time in six years when it meets next month, some analysts are looking much further ahead.
They say a long-anticipated fundamental shift in the market may now be under way, ending a four-year stretch when $100-plus prices were the norm, and opening a new era in which OPEC restraint once again becomes paramount.
Posted October 6, 2014
CNBC (Chevron Chairman and CEO John Watson): Over the last 150 years, we've seen the greatest advancements in living standards in recorded history — advances enabled by affordable and reliable energy that have brought light, heat, mobility, modern communications and other benefits to billions of people around the world. The United States has helped lead many of these advancements — by spreading our ideals of free markets, open trade, rule-of-law and limited state involvement. In doing so, we've allowed private initiative to innovate and drive progress.
As more of the world seeks to capitalize on these advancements, the ensuing spread of wealth is helping to lift more people into the middle class and realize these same benefits. In the past 10 years, the world has added three-quarters of a billion people to the middle class.
And despite some struggles of our own, America's business and economic system remains the envy of much of the world. Yet it's a system that continues to evolve … and change.
Perhaps the most dramatic changes have been in the U.S. oil and natural gas sector, where we've launched an energy revolution, fueled by technology and innovation, that's allowing us to produce more from oil and gas fields and develop new geographic frontiers. In the last decade, we've rewritten the U.S. energy story — from one focused on scarcity to one focused on abundance.
Posted September 25, 2014
Supply matters. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) chief Adam Sieminski, crude oil could cost at least $150 a barrel today because of supply disruptions in the Middle East and North Africa – if not for rising U.S. crude production.
Sieminski told the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s annual meeting that crude from the Bakken, Permian and Eagle Ford shale plays and others around the country has spiked in the past decade to more than 4 million barrels per day – enough to make up for outages in crude production elsewhere. Sieminski:
“If we did not have the growth in North Dakota, in the Eagle Ford and the Permian, oil could be $150 (per barrel). There is a long list of countries with petroleum outages that add up to about 3 million barrels per day.”
So, let’s rephrase things a bit: Clearly, U.S. production, adding to global supply, matters. A lot.
Posted September 24, 2014
The Washington Post: The crude oil boom in the western United States has changed the way states do business. North Dakota is growing so rapidly that the legislature is considering returning to special session to make big investments in new infrastructure. Wyoming now receives more than half its tax dollars from oil and gas companies paying to extract fuel. And big parts of Colorado, California, Texas, Oklahoma and a handful of other states increasingly rely on the energy industry for jobs.
Domestic production peaked in 1986, at 283 million barrels per month, according to the Energy Information Administration. In September 2005, domestic production hit a nadir of just 126 million barrels a month. In the last decade, technological advances, including the increasing production from hydraulic fracturing, has reversed that 20-year decline in crude oil production.
Today, production is back up to 256 million barrels a month, according to the latest EIA figures.
Posted August 29, 2014
Supply matters. The impact of the U.S. energy revolution on global supply, with real benefits reaching consumers, is seen we head into the Labor Day weekend. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports the U.S. average retail price for gasoline on Aug. 25 was the lowest price on the Monday before Labor Day since 2010. EIA explains:
The recent decline in gasoline prices largely reflects changes in crude oil prices. In June of this year, the Brent spot price reached its year-to-date high of $115/barrel (bbl), then fell to $102/bbl on August 22. Current Brent prices are below their August average level over the past three years, which ranged between $110/bbl and $113/bbl.
This parallels another EIA report, crediting the surge in U.S. crude oil production with a more stabilized global crude market:
Record-setting liquid fuels production growth in the United States has more than offset the rise in unplanned global supply disruptions over the past few years … U.S. liquid fuels production, which includes crude oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids, biofuels, and refinery processing gain, grew by more than 4.0 million barrels per day (bbl/d) from January 2011 to July 2014, of which 3.0 million bbl/d was crude oil production growth. During that same period, global unplanned supply disruptions grew by 2.8 million bbl/d. U.S. production growth, the main factor counterbalancing the supply disruptions on the global oil market, has contributed to a decrease in crude oil price volatility since 2011.
More simply, supply matters. Because crude oil is traded globally, every additional barrel of U.S. production going into that market has impact.
Posted August 29, 2014
New York Times: THREE RIVERS, Tex. — Whenever overseas turmoil has pushed energy prices higher in the past, John and Beth Hughes have curbed their driving by eating at home more and shopping locally. But the current crises in Ukraine and Iraq did not stop them from making the two-hour drive to San Antonio to visit the Alamo, have a chicken fried steak lunch, and buy fish for their tank before driving home to Corpus Christi.
“We were able to take a day-cation because of the lower gas prices,” said Ms. Hughes.
The reason for the improved economics of road travel can be found 10,000 feet below the ground here, where the South Texas Eagle Ford shale is providing more than a million new barrels of oil supplies to the world market every day. United States refinery production in recent weeks reached record highs and left supply depots flush, cushioning the impact of all the instability surrounding traditional global oil fields.