Posted December 18, 2013
The U.S.’s Crude Oil Policy
Washington Post: The United States again is one of the world’s great energy powers. On Monday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected that American crude oil output will peak at nearly 10 million barrels per day by mid-decade, up from 6.5 million last year. Last month, the International Energy Agency figured that the United States would overtake Saudi Arabia as the top oil producer, at least for a time. Yet some politicians remain unwilling to let the country reap the full benefits of this boon.
For decades, the government has imposed restrictions on exporting domestically produced crude oil but not on refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel. This arrangement seemed sensible; the country’s crude business wasn’t booming, but its refining industry was an economic powerhouse deeply embedded in world energy markets.
Now, however, new drilling techniques have resulted in a revitalization of U.S. crude production. But oil firms export only a tiny fraction of the roughly 8 million barrels they extract daily, even though the oil often isn’t the sort U.S. refineries are set up to process. Understandably, they’d like a wider market in which to sell.
Read more: http://wapo.st/18RWgmz
Posted December 13, 2013
Bloomberg Poll: 56 Percent Say Keystone XL Would Help U.S. Energy Security
Bloomberg Businessweek: More Americans view the Keystone XL oil pipeline as a benefit to U.S. energy security than as an environmental risk, even as they say Canada should do more to reduce greenhouse gases in exchange for approval of the project.
A Bloomberg National Poll shows support for the $5.4 billion link between Alberta’s oil sands and U.S. Gulf Coast refineries remains strong, with 56 percent of respondents viewing it as a chance to reduce dependence on oil imports from less reliable trading partners. That compares with the 35 percent who say they see it more as a potential source of damaging oil spills and harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Read more: http://buswk.co/1gwdBJq
Posted November 26, 2013
Marcellus Goliath Transforms Region
Bloomberg: Beneath the rolling pastures and woodland of western Pennsylvania, a corner of Appalachia dotted with Victorian main streets and white church steeples, a radical shift is under way.
In Punxsutawney, home to a groundhog named Phil who prognosticates the weather each February, a $2.8 million hotel is under construction. A few miles away in DuBois, metal fabricator Staar Distributing LLC is expanding to neighboring Brookville. All this development is coming to an economically depressed region that lies atop the Marcellus shale, a rock formation that produces more natural gas than Saudi Arabia.
Output from shale deposits including the Marcellus has surged 10-fold since 2005 to account for a third of the country’s gas production, government data show. The boom has eliminated a regional price premium, redirected pipeline flows and left the nation poised to export the fuel overseas after cutting imports by 44 percent since 2007. It’s also helped make the U.S. 86 percent energy independent, the most since 1986.
“The Marcellus is a Goliath,” David Schlosser, senior vice president for engineering and strategic planning at EQT (EQT) Corp., one of the four largest gas producers in the Marcellus, said in an Oct. 31 interview at the company’s headquarters in Pittsburgh. “In some ways, we’re just at the tip of the iceberg.”
Read more: http://bloom.bg/1icRd9o
Posted November 25, 2013
The Telegraph: The once-sleepy town of Williston sits on the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers in the US state of North Dakota.
Five years ago, Williston had a population of 12,000 and was slowly dying on its feet – an agricultural hub marked out from the plains only by the grain silos that stand silhouetted against the big North Dakota skies.
The fall-out from a brief oil boom in the mid-1980s had left the town with sky-high debts and a main street filled with empty shops and peeling facades. Young people looking for jobs skipped town at the first opportunity.
Today, Williston is booming once again. Its streets are filled with bustling commerce and trucks, its bars, restaurants and supermarkets groaning with customers.
Sudden advancements in the oil drilling techniques known as fracking have reinvigorated the small northern town, its population swelling to an estimated 30,000 as people pour in from across the United States in search of work in hard times.
Read more: http://bit.ly/17NWHRs
Posted November 22, 2013
Fracktacular: Oil and Natural Gas Offer a Glimpse of America’s Powers of Regeneration
The Economist: THE FIRST GUSHERS sprayed oil into the skies of Texas, Ohio and California more than a century ago. America has relentlessly drained its reservoirs of oil and gas ever since. In 1986, seeing the flow begin to slow, Robin West founded PFC Energy to advise oil people how to take capital out of the American industry and invest it in newer prospects abroad. As he leaves the company 27 years later, he is amazed to see the money flowing back in record amounts.
In 2006 America’s production of oil and natural gas fell to the equivalent of about 15m barrels of oil a day (b/d). An analysis by the Wall Street Journal recently estimated output today at over 22m b/d—close to surpassing the world’s largest producer, Russia, if it has not already done so. The extra oil comes from shale and sandstone. Estimates of the amount of oil they contain vary hugely, but Navigant, a consultancy, reckons that North America could produce anything from 26.9-53.5 trillion cubic metres of shale gas alone, enough to satisfy the world’s total current demand for gas for up to 15 years, though at today’s prices not all of it would yet be worth extracting.
It is a very American success. Geologists have long known that these reserves existed, but they could not get at them. A combination of innovation (hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”), finance and enterprise have now opened them up, often to small oil and gas firms with low costs.
Read more: http://econ.st/1aMP4uL
Posted November 18, 2013
More on EPA’s proposed levels for 2014 ethanol usage that were unveiled last week. While the agency rightly acknowledged the existence of the refining “blend wall” by proposing a lowering of how much ethanol must be blended into the U.S. fuel supply under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), it doesn’t go far enough. The blend wall still looms, and so does EPA’s insistence on requiring millions of gallons of phantom cellulosic biofuels.
We covered the blend wall issue when EPA released its proposal last week. Breaking through the blend wall, requiring refiners to put more ethanol into the fuel supply than is safe for millions of vehicles on the road today, could leave consumers stuck with repair bills and could harm the broader economy, according to a study by NERA Economic Consulting.
Let’s look at cellulosic. We refer to it as the “phantom fuel” because over the past few years EPA has required refiners to blend millions of gallons of it into the fuel supply when none was commercially available (2010 and 2011), or when very little was available (2012) – and then forced refiners to purchase credits from the government because they didn't use a non-existent fuel. This year looks to be similar. EPA’s 2013 mandate requires 6 million “ethanol equivalent” gallons, but to date only about 359,000 gallons have been produced.
Posted November 18, 2013
Big Ethanol Finally Loses
Wall Street Journal (editorial): It's not often that the ethanol lobby suffers a policy setback in Washington, but it got its head handed to it Friday. The Environmental Protection Agency announced that for the first time it is lowering the federal mandate that dictates how much ethanol must be blended into the nation's gasoline. It's about time. It's been about time from the moment the ethanol mandate came to life in the 1970s.
The 16% reduction is a modest pullback, which EPA says will hold ethanol blends in gasoline at the standard 10% (E10). But we hope this is a precedent-setting victory. After 35 years of exaggerations about the benefits of renewable fuels, the industry has lost credibility.
Posted November 15, 2013
Before taking a look at EPA’s proposals for 2014 ethanol use announced Friday, first consider a number that must guide the discussion of how much ethanol America’s refiners should be required to blend into the U.S. fuel supply: 132.65 billion gallons. That’s what the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), projects for 2014 gasoline demand.
Do the simple math. Using the government projection, the U.S. supply of conventional E10 fuel (up to 10 percent ethanol), for which the vast majority of cars and trucks on the road today were designed, would require 13.265 billion gallons of ethanol. If the ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) required more, then you’re running into the ethanol “blend wall” – that is, to satisfy the RFS, refiners would have to blend fuel with higher ethanol content than millions of vehicles are designed to use.
Posted November 14, 2013
Congratulations America. You’re (Almost) Energy Independent
Politico Magazine (Daniel Yergin): For four decades, whenever the American political debate turned to energy, the discussion was all about shortage and scarcity, a reality that haunted the United States ever since the global oil crises of the 1970s.
That conversation is over.
And now the unconventional energy revolution—newly accessible supplies of shale gas and oil—is creating a new discourse on energy that is changing politics and policies. All of this represents what Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz calls a “new mentality” about America’s energy position, with a new political language to match.
Posted November 13, 2013
Bloomberg: U.S. crude oil production exceeded imports in October for the first month since February 1995, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.
Output averaged 7.74 million barrels a day, the Energy Department’s statistical unit said in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook. Crude oil net imports were 7.57 million, down from 7.92 million the previous month.
Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have unlocked supplies in shale formations in North Dakota, Texas and other states. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, has dropped to below $95 from above $110 in September as domestic output reached a 24-year high.