Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted September 10, 2014
A new report from Brookings’ Energy Security Initiative adds more scholarly weight to the analytical case for lifting America’s decades-old ban on crude oil exports. Echoing earlier studies by IHS and ICF International, the Brookings research finds that allowing the export of domestic crude would stimulate more oil production here at home, provide broad economic benefits and strengthen U.S. energy security. Brookings:
… we believe that the U.S. should allow the market to determine where crude oil will go and move immediately to lift the ban on all crude oil exports. … After 40 years of perceived oil scarcity, the United States is in a position to help maximize its own energy and economic security by applying the same principles to free trade in energy that it applies to other goods. By lifting the ban on crude oil exports, the United States also will help mitigate oil price volatility while alleviating the negative impacts of future global oil supply disruptions.
Posted August 8, 2014
The U.S. Commerce Department’s newest trade report released this week shows increased exports of crude oil and petroleum products were a major factor in shrinking the trade deficit in June to $41.5 billion, down from $44.7 billion in May.
That’s great news. Energy exports are helping build America’s economic strength globally while creating jobs and opportunity here at home. America is more secure as a result of our energy revolution that is bringing opportunities to engage world energy markets and harness U.S. energy for good. Allowing more U.S. oil and natural gas exports is the logical course to support and expand America’s global presence.
Posted August 7, 2014
Increased domestic energy production means Americans are buying less foreign oil and gas, and selling more of it overseas. That has tamped down the trade deficit in recent years, helping along an economy that continues to recover from the Great Recession.
Some say the deficit could be slashed further if the US were to ease energy export restrictions put in place to protect US consumers from global energy shocks. But such a move would have impacts that go beyond the country’s balance of trade. Critics of oil and gas exports say they will raise energy prices at home, and increase the environmental impacts of extracting and burning fossil fuels.
Either way, a renaissance in oil and gas production is already changing the way officials, analysts, and economists look at the future of the US economy.
Posted July 21, 2014
Recent Improvements in Petroleum Trade Balance Mitigate U.S. Trade Deficit
EIA Today in Energy: Since the mid-1970s, the United States has run a deficit in merchandise trade, meaning that payments for imports exceeded receipts for exports. This large and growing deficit on the merchandise trade balance reached a maximum of $883 billion in the second quarter of 2008.
As a result of the recession, dramatic declines of imports in excess of exports during the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 reduced the merchandise trade deficit by 49%, to $449 billion in the second quarter of 2009. This trend of declining imports resulted in the lowest quarterly deficit level since early 2002. The merchandise trade deficit then increased to $686 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013, with much of the difference from the 2008 level ($131 billion) attributable to a $158 billion increase in net exports of crude oil and petroleum products.
Posted June 30, 2014
Washington Post Editorial: Quietly but wisely, the Commerce Department has decided to allow the first exports of U.S. crude oil since Congress imposed a ban on such sales (except to Canada) in the 1970s. To be sure, the agency’s ruling amounts to redefining crude in a way that applies only to a form of ultralight oil that U.S. refineries are ill-equipped to process. The executive branch couldn’t do much more than that to expand crude exports without congressional permission. Still, Commerce’s move is a step in the right direction because resuming oil sales abroad could help the U.S. economy reap the full fruits of the shale revolution that has propelled this country back into the top ranks of global oil and gas production.
The origins of the ban lie in the long-gone political and economic issues of the Nixon era. Specifically, the United States banned oil exports in response to the declining domestic production and Middle East supply shocks of that time, which, together with the then-existing system of U.S. price controls, made it seem rational to keep U.S.-produced oil at home rather than let it flow to the highest bidder on the world market. The world has changed dramatically since then; with U.S. production booming, this country is in a position to move the world market. Yet some still defend the export ban on the grounds that it holds down the price of crude to U.S. refineries and, by extension, the price of gasoline at U.S. pumps.
A new report by IHS Global explains why that thinking is outmoded.
Posted May 22, 2014
Energy and economic prosperity go together – on that most Americans agree. New polling finds strong majorities ofregistered voters connect exporting natural gas and new job creation, trade deficit reduction and a stronger economy.
The results mirror findings in other recent surveys on energy infrastructure investment and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. All together, they tell decision makers to choose pro-energy development and investment policies to put more Americans to work and to make America stronger in the world today.
Posted May 20, 2014
Last week’s finding by federal regulators that a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporting project in southern Maryland would pose “no significant impact” on the environmental is great news for the local and state economy, as well as for the United States, when it comes to broader trade and economic benefits from exporting U.S. LNG. Let’s hope the commission quickly follows up to approve the $3.8 billion project at Cove Point, Md.
Diane Leopold, president of Dominion Energy, which owns the existing LNG import facility (left) where the export project is planned:
“This marks another important step forward in a project that has very significant economic benefits and helps two allied nations in their efforts to increase their energy security and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. … The Cove Point LNG facility has been in existence for nearly 40 years and this makes the most of existing facilities. This project will be built within the existing footprint and fence line of an industrial site. There is no need for additional pipelines, storage tanks or permanent piers, thus limiting its impact and making an environmental assessment appropriate.”
Posted May 16, 2014
Bloomberg: Dominion Resources (D) Inc.’s plan to export liquefied natural gas cleared a U.S. environmental review, a key step toward final approval as supporters in Congress seek to expedite overseas shipments of the fuel.
U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval of Dominion’s proposed Cove Point project on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay would have “no significant impact” on the environment, as long as proper measures are taken, the staff said today in an environmental assessment.
The full commission is scheduled to issue a final decision on Cove Point by Aug. 13. Cheniere Energy Inc. (LNG)’s Sabine Pass is the only U.S. project so far to win approval from the FERC and Energy Department.
Posted May 15, 2014
Another benefit of America’s energy renaissance is seen in the competitive edge North American refiners are gaining because of lower feedstock costs, resulting from surging domestic crude oil and natural gas production.
The latest “This Week in Petroleum” report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says that U.S. and Canadian refiners are in a stronger position relative to European counterparts because of lower costs for domestic crude oil and natural gas, from which they make a variety of value-added finished products.
Posted April 14, 2014