Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted May 7, 2015
The oil and natural gas industry’s recent tax revenue and economic contributions to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania look like this: more than $630 million through the state’s existing local impact fee since 2012, including $224 million in 2014 alone; more than $2.1 billion in state and local taxes; annual contributions to the state economy of $34.7 billion, boosting the bottom lines of more than 1,300 businesses in the energy supply chain.
Gov. Tom Wolf, who has proposed new industry taxes, says the state is “getting a bad deal.” We suspect a lot of states would like to have things so rough.
Nevertheless, the governor is pushing for an additional natural gas severance tax of 5 percent on the gross market value of production, plus a fixed fee of 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) produced. The governor also wants an artificial floor of $2.97 per Mcf regardless of the actual price of natural gas. All suggest unfamiliarity with the story of the goose that laid golden eggs.
Posted May 4, 2015
The Colorado Petroleum Council and its new executive director, Tracee Bentley, recently opened a new office in Denver, where the council will focus on growing energy priorities in the state. A Colorado native, Bentley served as Gov. John Hickenlooper’s legislative director and senior advisor on energy and agricultural issues before coming to API. Below, Bentley talks with Energy Tomorrow about opportunities and challenges facing the council and her role as the organization’s leader.
Q: What do Coloradoans think about the state’s energy potential? Is it something people are aware of, and what do you believe they want most from industry as it develops that energy? What are the key “education” points needed to build a strong partnership between industry and Coloradoans?
Bentley: Coloradans know their state is blessed in terms of energy. And they’re aware of the importance of energy development to the state’s economy. Even with the recent downturn, oil and natural gas development remains a crucial contributor economic growth, adding $26 billion to the state economy and supporting 213,100 jobs – or nearly 7 percent of total state employment. School districts in Colorado received nearly $202 million from oil and gas production property taxes in 2012 alone, according to a study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.
Coloradoans want the same things people in other energy-producing states want. They want assurances that development will be safe, and that operators will hear and respond to their concerns. The Colorado Petroleum Council helps this relationship by providing factual information on safe energy development. One of our priorities is to demystify things like hydraulic fracturing. We’re here to explain it and to reassure communities and individuals that it has been going on for decades, is an advanced, precise technology and that the combination of state regulations and industry standards is keeping energy development safe to residents, water supplies and the local environment.
Posted May 1, 2015
Ravalli (Mont.) Republic: The nation’s energy future is strong, with oil and natural gas production driving the country closer to becoming a net exporter of energy, the commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said Wednesday.
Commissioner Norman Bay said the U.S. has ramped up its oil and gas production while slowing domestic demand for petroleum.
Growth of the nation’s electrical consumption has also slowed to 1 percent a year, and coal is playing a smaller role in U.S. power generation.
“In 2009, all that natural gas flooded the market and the share of electricity generated from coal dropped from 50 percent to 45 percent,” Bay said. “Over time, the share of generation by natural gas continues to increase and electricity generated from coal continues to decrease. It’s primarily driven by market forces.”
Posted April 30, 2015
It’s noteworthy that there’s bipartisanship in Congress on offshore energy development. Last week a group of Republican U.S. House and Senate members signed onto a letter urging the Interior Department to increase access to energy reserves on the nation’s outer continental shelf. It follows a March 26 letter from Virginia’s two Democratic senators and a March 27 letter from a dozen House Democrats supporting offshore energy development.
Bipartisanship in Washington is quite a rare bird, so it’s significant to see it form around the need to develop domestic offshore energy.
Equally important: Strongly worded concern from the most recent letter’s signers that the draft 2017-2022 plan for oil and natural gas leasing offered by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management not be weakened by removing any of the leasing areas in the proposal.
Posted April 30, 2015
The Hill’s Congress Blog (Weinstein): In response to significantly lower oil and natural gas prices, America’s energy sector is retrenching rapidly. The drilling rig count has dropped by more than 50 percent over the past year, while companies large and small have announced sizeable layoffs and cuts in their capital budgets for 2015 and 2016. Nonetheless, several states, including Pennsylvania and Ohio, are considering imposing or hiking production taxes—called severance taxes—on oil and gas operators. These increases will be in neither the public’s nor the industry’s best interests.
Governors and state legislators should keep in mind that in today’s competitive environment, producers in their states are simply “price takers.” What this means is that any factor increasing the marginal cost of production, such as new or higher severance taxes, will put that state’s operators at a competitive disadvantage. The result will be lower production today and diminished investment in the future.
What’s more, as the experience of Texas and other energy producing states has demonstrated over the years, severance taxes are not dependable revenue sources because they rise and fall with changes in output and price. With prices for oil and natural gas expected to remain low for an extended period, their contribution to total state revenues is likely to be quite small and not enough to offset any sizeable cuts in other taxes. In addition, it’s never good public policy to increase the tax burden one specific industry as opposed to imposing or hiking taxes generally across all industries.
Posted April 24, 2015
Last summer we posted on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s gentle pushback against various voices that objected to BOEM’s decision to allow safe, carefully regulated seismic testing to map offshore energy reserves in the Atlantic. The pushback apparently prompted some pushback, because last month BOEM reasserted the facts on safe seismic in its online “Science Notes” feature.
As was the case last August, BOEM Chief Environmental Officer William Y. Brown weighed in:
In August 2014, BOEM published a Science Note addressing a few fundamentals about impacts of seismic air gun surveys on marine mammal populations. … BOEM's conclusion regarding the impact of these surveys is in stark contrast with public statements citing BOEM research and asserting that many thousands of marine mammals will be killed or injured through these surveys. For example, one web posting states that “Seismic air gun testing currently being proposed in the Atlantic will injure 138,000 whales and dolphins and disturb millions more, according to government estimates.” This characterization of our conclusion, however, is not accurate; that is actually not what we estimate.
Posted April 16, 2015
For months we’ve argued that new federal regulation targeting methane emissions from energy development is unnecessary and could undermine the success industry initiatives already are achieving. Howard Feldman, API’s senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs, from earlier this year:
“Methane is the product we bring to market. We sell methane – that is natural gas. That’s what we want to sell. … We don’t need regulation to tell us to do that because we are incentivized to do that. It’s not a byproduct or something. It is the product we’re selling. … We’re developing these technologies because we want to more and more capture natural gas.”
This is exactly what’s happening, as new data from EPA shows.
Posted April 15, 2015
Wall Street Journal (subscription publication): The U.S. could soon export more energy than it imports, significantly changing the country’s appetite for foreign fuels starting as early as 2020, according to a new report from the Energy Information Administration.
Despite energy prices that are sharply lower today than they were a year ago, the federal government’s new outlook forecasts that U.S. oil and natural gas production will continue to rise over the next five years.
As American drillers keep pumping, the U.S. will meet more of its own energy needs. The trend will also boost the amount of natural gas, refined fuels such as diesel and ultralight oil the U.S. has available to ship overseas, reversing the country’s energy importing trend that has been in place since the 1950s.
Posted April 14, 2015
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) new Annual Energy Outlook for 2015 contains a number of stats, charts and projections, but you could boil them down to a couple of important points.
First, oil and natural gas are and will continue to be the foundation of an all-of-the-above energy approach that’s key to continued U.S. economic growth, energy security and overall security. EIA says oil (36 percent) and natural gas (27 percent) supply 63 percent of America’s energy now, and EIA projects they will supply 62 percent in 2040 (oil 33 percent and natural gas 29 percent). This is because oil and natural gas are high in energy content, portable and reliable. They’re the workhorse fuels of the broader economy, making modern living possible as fuels and as the building blocks for a number of products Americans depend on every day. America is and will be dependent on a variety of energies, but oil and natural gas are and will play leading roles.
The great news is the U.S. is in the midst of a revolution in domestic oil and natural gas production, leading to a second big takeaway from EIA’s report – that domestic output is and will continue to reduce U.S. dependence on imported energy.
Posted April 14, 2015
The National Interest (James Jay Carafano): Increasing American production and export of energy is a win-win-win proposition. It would enhance our national security, make international energy markets more free, and address environmental issues realistically. The next president should lead the campaign for an American energy export agenda. In the meantime, the present Congress can do much to prepare for the march.
The acme of presidential leadership is crafting policies that make the nation safe, free, and prosperous. Satisfying all three priorities is often the Oval Office's greatest challenge. It is like single-handedly trying to get squabbling triplets into their car seats. Yet, the confluence of geopolitics, America's energy abundance, and economic and environmental realities offers an almost unprecedented opportunity to do this successfully.