Posted July 30, 2014
The Hill (Rick Manning): Domestic energy production on private or state lands has surged over the past seven years, and this is great news for America. Per barrel oil production has increased 400 percent to an estimated 400 barrels per day in the past six years in what are known as the big three oil fields: Bakken (North Dakota), Permian Basin and Eagle Ford (Texas).
The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that next year, the United States will surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world's largest oil producer, and by 2035, the U.S. is projected to have finally achieved the long-promised goal of energy self-sufficiency.
Of course, President Obama has been crowing about this as one of his administration's achievements, which like many of his claims, is far from the truth, as energy production on federal lands has actually declined during his tenure in office.
But this story is not about the federal government's shortcomings in this quest, or even about the environmentalist regulatory attempts to stymie energy development. No, it is about what happens when profit drives very smart people to figure out new ways to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks, and what it means to you and me when they succeed.
Posted July 28, 2014
In a new update to its drilling productivity report from last week, the Energy Information Agency said North Dakota's Bakken and Texas' Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale are quietly generating more than a million barrels of oil per day each–comprising at least a third of total U.S. daily oil production. Shale oil drilling generated the equivalent of nearly 90 percent of the U.S.'s total energy needs in 2013, according to EIA figures.
Mark Perry, an economist at the University of Michigan and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, crunched the EIA's numbers even further. His analysis suggests the output of the combined three oil fields is actually exceeding 4 million bpd, which would make them the world's fifth largest oil producer by volume.
"In all of human history, there have only been ten oil fields in the world that have ever reached the one million barrel per day milestone," the economist wrote in a recent blog post. "Three of those ten are now active in the US–thanks to the advanced drilling techniques that started accessing oceans of shale oil in Texas and North Dakota about five years ago."
Posted July 25, 2014
The Southern: In three years of working in the fracking fields of North Dakota, Rick Tippett has witnessed two accidents, he said.
Tippett, 61, of Creal Springs, said he never feels he puts his safety at risk when on a horizontal fracking site. Tippett works six weeks straight and returns to his Southern Illinois home during his 10-day breaks.
Between two weeks of orientation focused solely on safety, provided by a multitude of gas companies and regulators; yearly safety training and company-provided protective gear, Tippett said safety is “the No. 1 priority” on a job site.
Tippett spoke with The Southern Illinoisan after statements from Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment issued Wednesday that fracking is unsafe for workers. The SAFE comments came a day after fracking proponents urged faster movement on drafting rules to regulate horizontal fracking.
Accidents he has seen involved one friend who hurt his hand from a fallen pipe and another who was uninjured when water used for fracking splashed on him.
In the second incident, emergency crews responded and washed the man down as a precaution, Tippett said.
“They will stop all work if anything happens,” he said of companies operating the fracking sites.
Posted July 24, 2014
Reading content produced by opponents of the oil and natural gas industry, you see a lot of distortion, misinformation, myth and falsehood. Yet, it would be hard to identify something as packed with baloney as the supporting arguments for an idea that’s being advanced by a pair of Chicago aldermen – mandating that all of the city’s self-service gas stations offer E15 fuel.
Backers of the soon-to-be-voted-on proposal have a website, www.cleartheairchicago.com, that’s basically a clearinghouse for corn ethanol industry sophistry, trumpeting E15 as the elixir of cleaner air, reduced oil imports and lower gasoline prices – taking advantage of the public’s earnestness for all three. Unfortunately, the promises they attach to E15 are like so much snake oil.
Over and over we’ve rebutted Big Ethanol’s E15 arguments – underlying the special interest’s work to prop up the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard’s mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use. A number of them are repeated to support the Chicago proposal: E15 is cleaner and cheaper than the E10 gasoline that’s the staple of the U.S. fuel supply. It’s acceptable for use in U.S. vehicles and is actually better for them than E10. E15, they claim, is about promoting consumer choice.
Posted July 18, 2014
Washington Examiner: The Obama administration announced Friday that it would allow exploration for oil and gas off some portions of the Atlantic Coast using sonic testing devices that environmentalists say harm marine life.
The Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management gave the OK for seismic airgun testing, which are boat-towed cannons that shoot sonar blasts off the ocean floor to scan for oil-and-gas deposits, in the mid- and south-Atlantic areas that stretch from the Delaware Bay to just south of Cape Canaveral, Fla. The approval is a prelude to potential offshore drilling there, though that is blocked through 2017 under President Obama's five-year offshore drilling plan.
"The bureau has identified a path forward that addresses the need to update the nearly four-decade-old data in the region while protecting marine life and cultural sites,” said Acting BOEM Director Walter D. Cruickshank, who noted the agency has several permits on hand to conduct the seismic tests. “The bureau's decision reflects a carefully analyzed and balanced approach that will allow us to increase our understanding of potential offshore resources while protecting the human, marine and coastal environments.”
Posted July 15, 2014
Reuters: By now everyone knows the shale revolution was made possible by the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
But although fracking has captured the popular imagination, and is often used as a synonym for the whole phenomenon, horizontal drilling was actually the more recent and important breakthrough.
Mastery of horizontal drilling around 1990, originally for oil rather than gas exploration, was the decisive innovation that lit the long fuse for the shale revolution that erupted 15 years later.
"Horizontal drilling is the real marvel of engineering and scientific innovation," David Blackmon wrote in Forbes magazine last year ("Horizontal drilling: a technological marvel ignored", January 2013).
"While impressive in its own right, the main innovations in fracking have been beefing up the generating horsepower to accommodate horizontal wells rather than vertical ones, and refining of the fluids used to conserve water and create better, longer lasting fractures in the target formation."
Posted July 14, 2014
CNBC: The United States is swimming in oil and gas. But processing the new-found bounty is posing a challenge to U.S. refiners, which can't come to grips with the abundance in domestic supply.
A production renaissance has catapulted the United States into the upper strata of global energy producers. Yet with fewer than 150 refineries, the U.S. has a surprisingly limited capacity to process the bounty.
"Some refineries are better suited for light sweet crude," while others—primarily on the Gulf Coast—are better optimized for the heavier, international variety of oil, said Bob Greco, director of upstream operations for the American Petroleum Institute.
The huge increase in shale production in places like North Dakota is helping to revitalize East Coast refineries, Greco said in an interview.
Posted July 8, 2014
The Keystone XL Pipeline has been studied, and studied, and studied, in fact if the permit application were a person, it would have just graduated kindergarten. However, after nearly six years of studies which show positive benefits to our economy and energy security with no significant environmental impacts – politics are still trumping good policy.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement released by the State Department earlier this year found the project would deliver 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region to U.S. refineries, create 42,100 jobs during its construction phase and provide $3.4 billion in additional revenue to U.S. GDP.
Posted July 7, 2014
Promising news last week – the U.S. will remain the world’s largest oil producer this year, maintaining the top spot now and well into the future thanks to shale development, Bank of America says.
U.S. production of crude oil, along with liquids separated from natural gas, surpassed all other countries this year with daily output exceeding 11 million barrels in the first quarter, the bank said in its report.
Posted June 26, 2014
Washington Post: Even Democrats who prefer to develop alternate energy sources before expanding the use of fossil fuels say they want the Keystone XL pipeline built.
The new Pew "Political Typology" report shows huge majorities of all four Democratic-leaning groups support the development of wind, solar and hydrogen alternatives to oil, coal and natural gas. But of those same four groups, the Keystone XL pipeline is still overwhelmingly popular in three of them.
Among "hard-pressed skeptics," "next generation left" and "faith and family left," support for Keystone is two-to-one. So even as a group like the "next generation left" group supports alternate energy over fossil fuels 83-11, it still backs Keystone 62-28.