Posted April 5, 2016
Last week EPA launched a new program it hopes will encourage U.S. oil and natural gas companies to voluntarily focus on reducing methane emissions from oil and gas operations. EPA:
The Methane Challenge Program will provide partner companies with a platform to make company-wide commitments to cut emissions from sources within their operations by implementing a suite of best management practices within five years. Transparency is a fundamental part of the program, and partner achievements will be tracked by submitting annual data directly to EPA.
Two points: First, our industry is already on it, deploying technologies, innovation and yes, best management practices, effectively capturing methane from energy operations. And it’s succeeding. EPA data shows that since 2005 methane emissions from field production of natural gas have dropped 38 percent, and emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells have dropped 79 percent – at a time of surging natural gas production.
It’s happening because energy companies are working hard to collect methane, the main component of natural gas, for the market. Indeed, the abundance of domestic natural gas is helping lower consumer energy costs for U.S. consumers – including those in the Northeast, which historically has paid more for electricity than other parts of the country – and increasing average annual household disposable income by $1,200.
Posted February 24, 2016
Two separate but related news items last week demonstrate the economic promise and geopolitical significance of America’s natural gas export opportunity.
The first headline, “U.S. LNG Set to Hit Global Market,” signifies a landmark moment in America’s trajectory from energy scarcity to abundance. The export facility covered in the article – Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass in Cameron Parish, La. – actually opened as a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in 2008. Just two years later in September 2010, it became the first U.S. facility to apply for a Department of Energy permit to export LNG. After a decade that saw U.S. natural gas production jump 45 percent – and following an extensive review process – Sabine Pass is set to ship its first cargo to Europe.
Posted January 29, 2016
Politicians like to have visions – often broad aspirational statements that are mostly detached from any number of realities. We’re not opposed to visions per se, yet it’s good to remember a maxim that’s popular in the military: A vision without resources is a hallucination. So here’s our vision, outlined by API President and CEO Jack Gerard earlier this month:
“Energy is fundamental to our society … In this New Year let us all resolve to work together toward a shared vision of a world where everyone – without regard to zip code, state, nation, continent or hemisphere – has access to reliable, safe and affordable energy.”
This is no aspiration detached from reality. We know how to get the needed resources to actualize this vision – a market-driven, consumer-focused approach to energy policy that boosts our nation’s economy, helps the environment and benefits energy users here and around the world.
Posted January 28, 2016
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that a number of recently completed and soon-to-be-completed pipeline projects are expected to increase access to natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions, providing valuable linkage between production centers and consumers or export terminals.
We see the increase in natural gas pipeline capacity in the Northeast region, which is particularly critical because the Northeast has suffered negative effects from energy infrastructure limitations. EIA estimates that Northeast residents paid up to 68 percent more for electricity than the national average in the winter of 2014, while industrial users paid up to 105 percent more for electricity than the national average. Indeed, greater capacity is key to staving off economic penalties that could stem from insufficient infrastructure. One study estimated that failure to expand natural gas and electricity infrastructure in the Northeast could cost the region’s households and businesses $5.4 billion in higher energy costs and more than 167,000 private-sector and construction jobs between 2016 and 2020.
So this is good news for the Northeast, but also other regions.
Posted January 11, 2016
A couple of data points from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) that help illustrate the impact of the natural gas portion of the American energy revolution.
First, EIA reports that wholesale electricity prices at major trading hubs, on a monthly average for on-peak hours, were down 27 percent to 37 percent across the U.S. in 2015 compared to 2014. The reason for the decrease, EIA says, is lower natural gas prices.
Now, let’s zero in on the increasing affordability of natural gas in electricity generation. Recently, EIA reported that 2015 natural gas spot prices at the national benchmark Henry Hub averaged $2.61 per million Btu (MMBtu), the lowest annual average since 1999. Interestingly, declining prices did not result in lower production, EIA says.
Posted December 16, 2015
As winter approaches, the good news continues with the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Winter Fuels Outlook. Due to a “combination of warmer weather and lower fuel prices,” EIA projects household heating costs will be lower than the previous two winters.
Posted December 1, 2015
This week’s climate summit in Paris will be filled with talk of ways to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s an important discussion for sure, but it’s one that should focus on achievable, real-world initiatives. A couple of starting points for an action agenda:
The first is an acknowledgement – that the availability of safe, reliable energy is fundamental to lifting people – and entire nations – from poverty. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called energy the “the golden thread that connects economic growth, social equity, and environmental sustainability.” With the International Energy Agency telling us that more than a billion people around the world don’t have electricity, it would be a mistake for the Paris summit to do anything that impedes or blocks access to energy. The world needs more energy, not less.
The second point a realization by the summiteers that private markets, not command-and-control government interventions, offer the best avenue to advance climate objectives while growing energy supplies – progress without hamstringing economies and hindering individual opportunity.
Posted October 6, 2015
Last month we connected he lowest pre-Labor Day gasoline prices in more than a decade with the global cost of crude oil, the main factor in prices at the pump. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) attributed crude prices, in part, with growth in global supply – due in no small part to increases in U.S. oil production. Abbreviated: Thanks, U.S. energy revolution.
Now comes EIA’s Winter Fuels Outlook, with forecasts that household heating costs will be lower than the previous two winters. Thanks again, U.S. energy.
Posted August 28, 2015
There’s a new report out this week that says energy infrastructure constraints have cost New England at least $7.5 billion over the past three winters – while cautioning that failing to expand natural gas and electricity infrastructure will cost the region’s households and businesses $5.4 billion in higher energy costs between 2016 and 2020.
Other key findings in the report by the New England Coalition for Affordable Energy show that without additional infrastructure, higher energy costs will lead to the loss of 52,000 private-sector jobs over the same time period. In all, a lack of infrastructure investment could mean 167,000 jobs lost or not created. The report also found that the region could see a reduction in household spending of $12.5 billion and $9 billion in foregone infrastructure construction.
Posted August 5, 2015
New government stats on falling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electrical power generation point to a good-news story on energy and climate, one that should grab the attention of policymakers nationally and in the states. This is seen in data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Plotting CO2 emissions from the electric power sector from 1988 to this April, EIA reports emissions hit their lowest point for any month in 27 years. This is largely because of increased use of natural gas in power generation – a market choice that’s based on the availability and affordability of natural gas, as well as the fact it is clean-burning.