Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted December 7, 2015
t’s good that Congress appears to be talking seriously about ending the United States’ four-decades-old ban on crude oil exports. Reports say Democrats and Republicans are discussing a deal that would include lifting the export ban – though it’s unclear what a specific deal would look like. “We need to have a conversation” about oil exports, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin told Politico. “We need to have a fair negotiation.”
Of course, we’ve been having a conversation about the merits of lifting the exports ban for some time. And it starts with this: Every major study on the issue has found that exporting U.S. crude oil would be good for America and Americans. The benefits range from those to consumers, to the economy, to American security to domestic energy production. According to the research, ending the outdated ban would positively impact all of the above.
Posted December 2, 2015
A couple of important takeaways from this week’s Capitol Hill hearing on a proposed federal well control rule for offshore drilling:
First, offshore drilling is safer today than it has ever been – for the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and Pacific regions. In coordination with federal regulators, industry has improved the safety of offshore development – in terms of safety systems management, prevention and response – while advancing the nation’s energy security through continued offshore oil and natural gas production.
This is seen in the approximately 275 API exploration and production standards that include offshore operations, more than 100 of which have been incorporated into federal regulation.
Posted November 25, 2015
Posted November 18, 2015
Interesting analysis on energy independence in the Wall Street Journal by Columbia University’s Jason Bordoff, a former energy adviser to President Obama. It’s a good thing the United States isn’t energy independent, Bordoff writes. That’ll get your attention, right?
As Bordoff explains, “energy independence” is a dusty concept from the 1970s and 80s, after policymakers made it a goal to end U.S. reliance on global crude suppliers after the 1973 oil embargo. It didn’t happen. To the contrary, U.S. imports steadily climbed in the 1990s and 2000s before the significant increases in domestic production, thanks to abundant American shale energy reserves and advanced hydraulic fracturing.
Now, with U.S. energy output surging, the inclination among some is to keep that energy here at home by maintaining the 1970s-era ban on crude oil exports, believing that it lessens others’ ability to disrupt our oil supplies. But Bordoff writes that an “isolationist” approach on energy misunderstands the reality that today’s global energy market is highly integrated and that the interconnectedness of the market has helped the U.S. compensate for supply disruptions here at home and overseas. “Free trade in a highly integrated global energy market made us more secure,” he writes.
Posted November 3, 2015
API assembled a great panel of election/campaign experts to discuss how Election 2016 is shaping up and which issues will be salient when Americans vote a year from now. As for predicting the key issues 12 months into the future, the experts said what honest experts say: Who knows for sure? Yet, Public Opinion Strategies’ Glen Bolger no doubt was in the ballpark:
“I don’t think any one issue is going to dominate the election. … You’re going to have a number of different issues debated: foreign policy and national security being up there, the economy and jobs … Energy certainly can play a role in that, just given that it is a component of jobs and the economy. It’s a component of our national security, it’s a component of our foreign policy. I think energy will be an issue, but the question is how big.”
Great point. Energy and advancing the right policies for American energy certainly run through a number of the things Americans say they care about most: jobs, a thriving economy and safety for themselves and their families. That’s what comes through the results of a new Harris Poll of 2,800 registered voters: energy, energy, energy.
Posted November 2, 2015
When the Energy Policy and Conservation Act was signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1975, Ford said it would put the United States “solidly on the road to energy independence.” The legislation included a ban on most exports of domestically produced crude oil. For many, shutting in domestic oil production – effectively self-sanctioning a vital U.S. industrial sector from the global marketplace – seemed like a good idea. At the time.
The country had been roiled by an oil embargo imposed by exporting states in response to U.S. support for Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Americans learned the meaning of oil shock – long lines for gasoline, odd/even day rationing schedules, shortages and rising prices. The Federal Reserve’s Michael Corbett writes that the embargo nearly quadrupled the price of a barrel of oil to $11.65 – quaintly low in 2015 dollars, but economically crippling four decades ago.
Posted October 29, 2015
Lacking factual, substantial reasons for keeping the United States’ antiquated ban on crude oil exports, those who oppose letting U.S. crude reach the global marketplace are left to make a non-factual, unsubstantial case instead.
In a letter to the editor in the New York Times, the Sierra Club’s Michael Brune offers up a couple of scary fictions – in time for Halloween – to distract Americans from the stark, “off oil” agenda that Brune and many others advocate: a harsher, less healthy, less hospitable world minus the reliable, affordable fuels that are fundamental to modern living.
API President and CEO Jack Gerard recently called them out for the false choice that’s central to their advocacy:
“There is a vocal minority who believe that instead of growing our economy to lift people out of poverty we should reduce our current standard of living and cap our potential. We reject this notion and encourage policy makers to continue down the path we have shown to work, supplying abundant, affordable, and reliable energy to consumers while lowering our impact on the environment.”
Posted October 22, 2015
Recent reports assert that some of the world’s oil suppliers have had a strategy to curtail the U.S. energy revolution – and that the strategy has worked, citing U.S. Energy Information Administration data showing U.S. production in decline. Bloomberg this week:
After a year suffering the economic consequences of the oil price slump, OPEC is finally on the cusp of choking off growth in U.S. crude output. The nation’s production is almost back down to the level pumped in November 2014, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries switched its strategy to focus on battering competitors and reclaiming market share.
Market decisions by major suppliers certainly have impact. Yet, focusing attention on factors beyond U.S. control misses factors under U.S. control that have a clear bearing on the trajectory of domestic oil production, economic growth and American security.
We’ll name a couple: continuing the outdated ban on U.S. oil exports and regulatory and process roadblocks that limit access to energy reserves and production. What we have is an administration whose self-sanctioning approach to U.S. energy is hurting American competitiveness in the global marketplace, to the benefit of other producers.
Posted October 19, 2015
The question Americans should be asking right now: Why is the Obama administration actively working to clear the way for Iran to resume trading its crude oil on the global market while it opposes legislation that would do the same for U.S. oil?
It’s a great question for which the administration can offer no good answer, because there isn’t one.
Yet, that’s the policy disconnect that is unfolding before Americans’ very eyes, with the weekend news that the administration approved conditional sanctions waivers for Iran that at some point will let the Iranians resume exporting their oil to the world – within days of the White House threatening to veto bipartisan legislation in Congress that would end the 1970s-era ban on U.S. oil exports.
Posted October 15, 2015
Reuters reports that Lithuania is in talks with U.S. liquefied natural gas company Cheniere Energy, seeking to reduce its dependence on Russia for LNG supplies. Lithuania opened an LNG import terminal last year, and its gas supply contract with Russian state-owned supplier Gazprom is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Rokas Masiulis, Lithuania’s energy minister:
“We would love to have U.S. cargo in our region to have competition with Gazprom. … I believe negotiations with Gazprom now will be on competitive, reasonable terms and that will be just business and nothing else. … After we have built an LNG terminal, there is no possibility of blackmail. Since we think there is no possibility of blackmail, discussion will be rational and economical rather than political. This is a big step.”
The minister speaks diplomatically, so let’s read between the lines a bit. We suspect that Lithuania is trying to secure the diversification of its energy supply. The country wants options, additional sources of LNG so that it is beyond leveraging by Russia on natural gas. Russia did this with oil in 2006, Reuters reports.
At the same time, Masiulis told Reuters that Lithuania also would be open to buying U.S. crude oil if the United States repeals its current ban on the export of domestic crude.