Posted July 24, 2014
The New York Times (Steven Rattner): As a young reporter covering energy for The New York Times, I saw firsthand the distortions and inefficiencies caused by the web of regulations that followed the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74, and the resulting surge in gasoline prices.
So I shared in the frisson of excitement last month when the Commerce Department cleared two Texas companies to export an ultralight, processed form of oil called condensate. It seemed like a step toward relaxing the ban on the export of crude oil, the biggest stricture remaining from the ’70s energy crisis.
But then the Obama administration quickly insisted that the Commerce Department, in narrowing the definition of crude oil so that condensate could be exported, was not about to lift the ban more widely. “There has been no change to our policy on crude oil exports,” a White House spokesman said.
That’s unfortunate, because America’s renewed hydrocarbon boom could be even more robust if we eased outdated restrictions on shipping both crude oil and liquefied natural gas overseas.
Posted July 22, 2014
AEI Carpe Diem Blog:
The chart above helps to illustrate the significance of America’s shale oil and gas boom by showing the combined domestic output of US oil and gas (in quadrillion BTUs, EIA data here). After production of conventional oil and gas peaked around 1970 at almost 45 quadrillion BTUs, there was a gradual, steady decline that continued until about 2005, when combined production had dropped to a 43-year low of 31.85 quadrillion BTUs, the lowest level since 1962. If that trend had continued, the US would now be producing only about 30 quadrillion BTUs of oil and gas (or less), which would have put us back to the production level of the late 1950s.
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 July 17, 2014
AEI Carpe Diem Blog: Below are four charts and two maps that help tell the story of America’s Amazing Shale Oil Revolution:
Posted July 16, 2014
Tyler (Texas) Morning Telegraph: VME Fabricators plans to double its Tyler workforce by year’s end and has surpassed goals set a year ago when the city and county agreed to tax abatements, representatives announced on Monday.
VME Fabricators is a new operating division and subsidiary of VME Process Inc., an international business based in Tyler. It provides offshore oil and gas separation and processing products.
VME Fabricators, which now has more than 50 employees in Tyler, was founded to serve onshore production needs for customers in the United States, providing module and pipe fabrication services. Its first orders will be shipped out in August, officials said in a prepared statement.
“As the domestic oil and gas market continues to grow, so will VME as we gain onshore market share and loyalty with customers needing reliable fabrication services,” Greg Jean, vice president and general manager of VME Fabricators, said in an email.
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 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.
Posted June 25, 2014
Coloradoan: Loveland voters on Tuesday struck down a proposed moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial oil and gas extraction process that has been restricted in several cities along Colorado’s Front Range.
More than 20,000 ballots were cast, but ultimately the moratorium failed by about 900 votes, said city spokesman Tom Hacker. Results came in just after 10 p.m., making the Loveland election one of the last Colorado races to be decided Tuesday .
“Fortunately that means the Loveland citizens have spoken and that common sense prevailed,” said BJ Nikkel, director of the Loveland Energy Action Project, a group that campaigned against the moratorium.