Posted October 26, 2015
A couple of reactions to last week’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approval of drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) – which we’ll link to a larger conversation about the Obama administration’s oil and natural gas policies.
First, it’s good that BLM has cleared the way for ConocoPhillips to move forward with a $900 million project that includes construction of an 11.8-acre drilling pad in the 23 million-acre NPR-A. The Greater Mooses Tooth Unit (GMT1) project could host up to 33 wells and could reach a monthly production peak of 30,000 barrels per day. America needs the energy, and producing oil from the vast reserve that was originally set aside for energy development almost a century ago is a welcome step. ConocoPhillips’ Natalie Lowman:
“It’s good news. We’re pleased they issued the permit and the right-of-way and now we’re seeking a funding decision.”
BLM approving this one drilling permit prompts another set of reactions, starting with: It’s about time. And: What about energy development in the rest of the oil reserve?
Posted October 22, 2015
Recent reports assert that some of the world’s oil suppliers have had a strategy to curtail the U.S. energy revolution – and that the strategy has worked, citing U.S. Energy Information Administration data showing U.S. production in decline. Bloomberg this week:
After a year suffering the economic consequences of the oil price slump, OPEC is finally on the cusp of choking off growth in U.S. crude output. The nation’s production is almost back down to the level pumped in November 2014, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries switched its strategy to focus on battering competitors and reclaiming market share.
Market decisions by major suppliers certainly have impact. Yet, focusing attention on factors beyond U.S. control misses factors under U.S. control that have a clear bearing on the trajectory of domestic oil production, economic growth and American security.
We’ll name a couple: continuing the outdated ban on U.S. oil exports and regulatory and process roadblocks that limit access to energy reserves and production. What we have is an administration whose self-sanctioning approach to U.S. energy is hurting American competitiveness in the global marketplace, to the benefit of other producers.
Posted August 28, 2015
When President Obama arrives in Alaska on Monday, he is expected to spend much of his time talking about climate. From a White House explainer on the president’s visit:
… President Obama will travel to Alaska and shine a spotlight on what Alaskans in particular have come to know: Climate change is one of the biggest threats we face, it is being driven by human activity, and it is disrupting Americans’ lives right now.
What the president should hear is that the people of Alaska, one of the most energy resource-rich states in the Union, embrace both energy development and climate and environmental goals. They’ve lived that embrace and depend on it. They’re wary of Washington disrupting the relationship. While the Obama administration has approved Shell’s exploratory drilling in the waters off the state’s northern coast, it also has moved to exclude energy development in other state areas.
Posted July 30, 2015
Our series highlighting the economic and jobs impact of energy in each of the 50 states continues today with Alaska. We started the week with a look at North Dakota. All information covered in this series can be found online here, arranged on an interactive map of the United States. State-specific information across the country will be populated on this map as the series continues.
As we can see with Alaska, the energy impacts of the states individually combine to form energy’s national economic and jobs picture: 9.8 million jobs supported and $1.2 trillion in value added.
Posted July 6, 2015
USA Today (editorial) – Fracking — the practice of cracking open underground oil and gas formations with water, sand and chemicals — has rescued U.S. energy production from a dangerous decline. Any debate about banning it should take a hard look at what that would cost the nation and at facts that aren't always part of the discussion.
Those facts are spelled out in a recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency on fracking and groundwater. One of the harshest charges against fracking, often leveled with apocalyptic intensity by its foes, is that it indiscriminately contaminates vital drinking water supplies.
The EPA's timely report essentially said that's overblown.
Posted June 15, 2015
Last month President Obama defended administration policies on oil and natural gas development after opponents of Arctic drilling criticized a federal agency’s decision to give conditional approval to Shell’s exploratory drilling plans in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska. The president:
Until the U.S. transitions to other fuel “we are going to continue to be using fossil fuels. And when it can be done safely and appropriately, U.S. production of oil and natural gas is important. I would rather us – with all the safeguards and standards that we have – be producing our oil and gas, rather than importing it …
Posted June 2, 2015
The Huffington Post (Sean McGarvey): The American job market is the best it's been in six years, according to the latest government data. The jobless rate is below 6 percent for the first time since 2008.
And in 2013, the United States became the world's top producer of oil and natural gas – surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia.
This U.S. energy boom is creating many new jobs here in America, and it's a leading contributor to American workers' vaulting out of the unemployment line and into the middle class. Our leaders must continue to support domestic energy exploration, which is proving our nation's strongest job-growth engine.
According to the American Petroleum Institute, investments in updating U.S. energy infrastructure alone could generate an estimated $1.14 trillion in capital investments – creating both jobs and energy savings from now until 2025.
Posted May 29, 2015
Reuters: The U.S. Congress could lift the 40-year old ban on domestic crude oil exports within a year as a drop in gasoline prices and the potential return of Iranian oil to global markets makes it an easier measure for politicians to support, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said on Thursday.
U.S. gasoline prices have dropped since last year along with global crude prices, thanks to strong crude output from the United States, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. On Thursday, the U.S. average for regular gasoline at the pump was nearly $2.74 a gallon, down from $3.65 a year ago, according to the AAA motorist club.
If that remains the case, it has the potential to allay politicians' fears that they could be blamed any rise in gasoline prices if the crude oil export ban was lifted. If talks between six global powers and Tehran on Iran's nuclear program reach a deal on June 30, sanctions on Iran's oil exports could be removed soon after. That could also put pressure on global oil and U.S. gasoline prices.
Posted May 26, 2015
Reuters: U.S. Republicans have had to watch from the sidelines as the Obama White House has taken political credit for America's unexpected energy boom and tumbling gas prices. Now it has left their presidential candidates scrambling for a way to reclaim leadership on an issue the party once seemed to own.
Their apparent answer: calling time on a 40-year-old federal ban on crude oil exports and using the newfound energy bounty to strategic advantage.
"We've got an abundance of supply," Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said this week in Oklahoma at a gathering of putative Republican candidates for next year's presidential election. Lifting the ban, he said, would allow exports to "our allies in Europe, where, instead of being dependent on (President) Vladimir Putin and the Russians, they could be dependent on Americans."
Posted May 15, 2015
Bloomberg BNA: The chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said May 14 that she is inclined to include standalone legislation that would end the 40-year ban on the export of domestic crude oil as part of a broader energy package the committee is drafting.
“I’d like to have it in there,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told reporters. “It just makes sense in there, as part of the bigger, broader energy updating our architecture.”
The bill, the Energy Supply and Distribution Act of 2015 (S. 1312), released May 13, is scheduled to be the subject of a June 4 hearing on “energy accountability and reform,” along with other bills that could end up in the broader energy package, which is expected to be unveiled later this summer.