Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted November 17, 2014
The Economist: To find out how much energy security has mattered in the Pacific’s recent history, ask the Japanese. At the museum of the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honours the country’s war dead (sometimes controversially), an exhibit suggests, with a jarring note of self-justification, that an American naval blockade against Japanese oil imports in 1941 triggered the Pacific war.
Seventy years later a tsunami that swooshed in from the Pacific and knocked out the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station led to the closure of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors. Parts of the country, which is a greedy consumer of electricity, were left practically powerless. Huge tankers full of natural gas, heading for terminals dotted along Japan’s Pacific coastline, eventually got the country up and running again. In 2012 Japan consumed 37% of the world’s liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Posted November 13, 2014
A good deal of the buzz generated by America’s ongoing energy revolution has centered on the way surging domestic production is changing the crude oil imports picture. No question, it’s a pretty one, with net imports as a share of consumption falling to levels not seen in nearly three decades. That’s great news for job creation, the economy, our balance of trade and America’s energy security.
But here’s another pretty picture: declining imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Actually, “declining” is too mild a term for what we’re seeing. Thanks to energy developed from shale using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the U.S. has become the world’s No. 1 natural gas producer – which has dramatically cut the need to shop the world market for supplies of natural gas, illustrated in plummeting LNG imports.
Posted November 12, 2014
EIA Today in Energy Blog: Increased natural gas production is projected to satisfy 60% to 80% of a potential increase in demand for added liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the Lower 48 states, according to recently released EIA analysis. The report, Effect of Increased Levels of Liquefied Natural Gas Exports on U.S. Energy Market, considered the long-term effects of several LNG export scenarios specified by the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy (FE). The study also considered implications for natural gas prices, consumption, primary energy use, and energy-related emissions. Effects on overall economic growth were positive but modest. A discussion of caveats and limitations of the analysis is also included.
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 9, 2014
Columbus Dispatch: Consumers are starting to catch a serious break for a change on energy costs.
Gasoline prices in central Ohio are at their lowest level in nearly four years, while the outlook for home-heating costs this winter is better than a year ago.
“There’s definitely more money in my pocket,” said Kathy Bury, 58, of Blacklick, in eastern Franklin County.
She tends to buy gasoline $20 at a time. At current prices, that’s three-fourths of a tank, which is much more than a month ago, a contrast that “makes me happy,” she said.
Posted October 6, 2014
We’ve posted a number of times on the merits of U.S. energy exports, because whether the subject is exporting crude oil or natural gas, there are compelling economic and energy reasons to lift restrictions on America’s ability to be a major player in global markets. While those restrictions remain, America and Americans lose.
A number of studies have said that energy exports will benefit our economy and stimulate more domestic production – here, here and here on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and here and here on crude oil. A new report from Columbia University’s Center for Global Energy Policy added that LNG exports could help strengthen the United States’ foreign policy hand.
Thanks to abundant oil and natural gas reserves, advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling and investments by a robust industry sector, the U.S. is the world’s No. 1 producer of natural gas and is about to become No. 1 in oil output (subscription required). Yet, because of self-imposed and outdated (in the case of the crude oil) export restrictions, the U.S. isn’t harnessing its energy potential as it could and should.
Posted October 1, 2014
Earlier this month Oilprice.com’s Nick Cunningham wrote this piece explaining that the debate over exporting U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been won – citing the openness of the Obama administration and leading Democrats to exports. Cunningham writes:
In fact the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats have received little blowback for the LNG projects that have received approval. And with tacit or overt support from Democrats, the LNG issue has largely been won by export supporters.
Still, some export opponents try to gain traction despite the findings of a number of studies (NERA, ICF, Brookings) that project broad economic benefits to the United States from LNG exports, with minimal effect on domestic prices. Earlier this year NERA updated its 2012 study:
LNG exports provide net economic benefits in all the scenarios investigated, and the greater the level of exports, the greater the benefits. The market for LNG exports is self-limiting, in that little or no natural gas will be exported if the price of natural gas in the US increases much above current expectations. High levels of exports can be expected only if natural gas is plentiful and inexpensive enough to produce so that prices remain below current levels, even with high levels of exports. (Emphasis added)
The issue of domestic prices is important because export opponents have been using an apples-to-oranges argument trying to scare up unfounded concern about the domestic effects of exports, citing conditions in Australia’s natural gas market.
Posted October 1, 2014
The Washington Post: Is a four-year college degree worth it? Generally yes, but the results vary quite a bit across majors — and can even vary widely within majors.
That’s the takeaway from new research by Brad Hershbein and Melissa Kearney at The Hamilton Project. The authors analyzed Census Bureau data to find out which college majors earned the most and the least. Topping the list are the engineering fields, to no one’s surprise. Some of the least-earning majors are related to education, theater and art. Over a lifetime, the median expected earnings for a drama or theater arts major is lower than that of someone with a two-year associate’s degree.
But the report found that regardless of major, “median earnings of bachelor’s degree graduates are higher than median earnings of high school graduates for all 80 majors studied. This is true at career entry, mid-career and end of career,” the authors write.
Posted September 30, 2014
Good LNG news yesterday: Dominion’s Cove Point LNG export terminal received federal approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). More from The Hill:
Dominion Resources Inc. will be allowed to liquefy and export up to 5.75 million metric tons of natural gas per year from its existing Cove Point compressor station on the Chesapeake Bay.
The decision follows a ruling in March by the Energy Department that the terminal may export gas to countries with or without a United States free trade agreement.
Dominion plans to have the $3.8 billion terminal up and running by June 2017. New construction would be on the same footprint as the existing site, the company said.
“We are pleased to receive this final approval that allows us to start constructing this important project that offers significant economic, environmental and geopolitical benefits,” Diane Leopold, president of Dominion Energy, said in a statement.
“Dominion is dedicated to constructing a safe, secure, environmentally compatible and reliable export facility.”
Posted September 23, 2014
New analysis from Columbia University says exporting U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) will increase global supply and ultimately help counter Russia’s attempts to leverage its natural gas customers in Europe and elsewhere.
Co-authors Jason Bordoff and Trevor Houser write that even before America starts exporting significant volumes of LNG, our domestic shale energy surge is having an effect abroad.