Posted July 30, 2014
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Teaming up with the oil and gas industry might sound strange for a strong believer in solar power, but for David Jason, it’s just smart business.
“The entire solar industry has kind of shunned the oil and gas industry,” Mr. Jason said. “I think they see it as a business, where a lot of people in solar see it as a cause. I see it as both.”
Mr. Jason is co-owner of Green Roads Energy, a solar distribution company in Mt. Lebanon. He has been involved in various solar projects in the region, and now he’s turning his sights on the oil and gas industry.
The plan? To provide oil and gas companies with customized solar panels to generate power at remote well sites to reduce fuel costs and eliminate the need for diesel generators or transmission lines.
Mr. Jason is not the first to come up with this idea. The use of solar applications at drill sites is becoming much more common, according to Ken Johnson, communications director for the Solar Energy Industries Association, a nonprofit trade group based in Washington, D.C.
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
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 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.