The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Energy Today - July 1, 2011

Rayola Dougher

Rayola Dougher
Posted July 1, 2011

Real Clear Politics: Natural Gas "Bubble" Report: Market Tinkering or Shoddy Reporting?: Times' editors present this story as an independent investigation, as blowing the top off a conspiracy of silence from natural gas "insiders." It brags in a special section headlined "Industry Privately Skeptical of Shale Gas" of reviewing, over six months, "thousands of pages of documents related to shale gas, including hundreds of industry e-mails, internal agency documents and reports by analysts." The Times posted some of the emails, although they are heavily redacted "to protect the confidentiality of sources." Readers are left with hyperbolic but anonymous fragments of criticism, many years out of date, sprinkled with derisive comments from Berman and Rogers. Berman is described as a "geologist who worked two decades at Amoco and has been one of the most vocal skeptics of shale gas economics." There is no reason to begrudge Berman (or Groppe) from holding strong beliefs and trying to profit from them by selling their investment advice to hedge funds or other investors. But the responsibility of the Times is different. Context is the difference between truth and manipulation. Disclosure is a central canon of journalism ethics. What didn't the Times disclose? Berman has direct and indirect financial ties to a range of critics of shale gas. For example, In January, Berman testified as a paid expert witness before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in support of Indiana Gasification, a unit of Leucadia National Corp., detailing the benefits of buying natural gas made from coal instead of hydraulic fracturing. The coal industry fears getting crushed by the cleaner, natural gas movement, and Berman backed coal. The Foundry: How Higher Energy Prices Threaten U.S. Jobs: Industries such as manufacturing, agriculture and transportation are strained by endless red tape, including restricted access to domestic energy supplies. As a result, the higher costs for employers are being passed along through rising prices for consumer goods. CEA's study indicates the offshore energy potential of the United States is conservatively estimated at 45 billion barrels of oil and 183 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That would be enough oil to power 60 million vehicles for 25 years and enough natural gas to heat 60 million American homes for 57 years. "Demand for oil and natural gas is increasing," said National Ocean Industries Association President Randall Luthi. "Yet we only explore for oil and gas in about 15 percent of the nation's offshore areas -- the same areas that were available when Richard Nixon was president." Apart from boosting job creation and steadying oil prices, offshore energy production would garner billions for the U.S. Treasury. Declining production in the Gulf of Mexico alone could cost the federal government more than $1 billion in revenue this year.

Canada Free Press: Shale Oil May Mirror Shale Gas Boom: First, hydraulic fracturing gave the United States a boom in shale gas that lowered natural gas prices by 54 percent between 2008 and 2009. Now, shale oil discoveries are being made that can substantially increase onshore oil production. The Bakken oil field located in western North Dakota, northeast Montana, and Canada's Saskatchewan Province is pumping 225,000 barrels of oil a day today that started at just 3,000 barrels per day in 2005, with estimates of a million barrels of oil production per day by 2020...It is estimated that these shale oil fields could create more than two million new jobs and that tens of billions of dollars could line the coffers of states where shale oil fields are located, including Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, California, Ohio, Michigan and Kansas. According to IHS CERA, an energy research firm, shale and other "tight rock" fields currently producing about half a million barrels of oil a day could produce up to three million barrels a day by 2020. In 2011 alone, oil companies are investing an estimated $25 billion to drill 5,000 new oil wells in tight rock fields.

Additional Resources:

PennEnergy Jobs: We Shale Overcome

ExxonMobil's Perspectives: New Natural Gas Website Sheds More Light on Hydraulic Fracturing

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rayola Dougher is senior economist at The American Petroleum Institute (API), where she analyzes information, manages projects and develops briefing materials on energy markets and oil industry policy issues. She is the author or co-author of economic research studies covering a diverse range of topics including crude oil and petroleum product markets, gasoline taxes, energy conservation and competition in retail markets. In addition to testifying before federal and state legislators, she has participated in numerous newspaper, radio and television interviews on a wide range of issues affecting the oil industry, including crude oil and gasoline prices, industry taxes and earnings, exploration and production, and refining and marketing topics.

Prior to joining API, Rayola worked at the Institute for Energy Analysis where her research focused on carbon dioxide related issues and international energy demand and supply forecasts. Rayola holds a Masters degree in Economic Development and East Asian studies from the American University and a degree in History and Political Science from the State University of New York at Brockport.