The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Shale Energy Benefits and the Winter Outlook for Consumers

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted November 25, 2013

Interesting developments along the winter energy front from API Chief Economist John Felmy in a recent briefing for reporters.

First, though gasoline prices recently have been pushed higher by increases in world crude oil prices and higher U.S. demand, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that gasoline and diesel prices will hold steady through at least the first half of 2014, Felmy said.

Second, while annual heating costs for natural gas users in 2014 are estimated by EIA to be $665, which is slightly higher than last year, they’re still likely to be 19 percent lower than they were in the winter of 2008-2009. EIA also estimates that annual costs for families who use heating oil in their homes will be 4 percent lower this year than last.  

Consumers can largely thank hydraulic fracturing for this moderating winter energy costs. Felmy:

“The recent surge in domestic energy production on state and private lands – brought about by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling – has helped put downward pressure on prices for gasoline, diesel and natural gas. But production on federal lands – where the administration has control – has fallen dramatically.”

So, how do we continue these positive trends? The administration and Congress can make specific policy changes to ensure government regulations do not threaten to increase costs. 

 Felmy said new federal regulations being considered for natural gas development could jeopardize America’s shale energy revolution – the main reason the U.S. is the world’s number one producer of natural gas. States already regulate drilling effectively, so adding another layer of federal regulation is unnecessary and counterproductive. Felmy:

“With the right government policies that open up federal lands and waters for responsible development while speeding up the permitting process, we can do more to help consumers. Increasing oil production would add supplies that could help put additional downward pressure on gasoline prices. And it would mean more jobs and more revenue to our government to help pay for education and hospitals.”

Felmy also noted steps consumers can take to help trim demand and lower energy costs:

  • Consolidate car trips by planning errands better and carpooling when possible.
  • Save gasoline by ensuring vehicle engines are tuned and tires are properly inflated – both can increase miles per gallon.
  • Turn off lights when leaving a room and unplug electronic devices when not in use.
  • Save thousands by upgrading old appliances with energy efficient ones, installing insulated windows and upgrade insulation in your attic and exterior walls. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Schaper is a Digital Communications Manager for the American Petroleum Institute. She previously worked on Capitol Hill for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as Digital Director and for Senator Lisa Murkowski. Before coming to D.C., she spearheaded digital strategy for Murkowski's successful Senate write-in campaign in 2010. Schaper enjoys traveling and taking in the local culture alongside her husband, their son and loyal springer spaniel.