Posted July 8, 2015
Before getting into the latest in a series of research studies on energy-related methane emissions, it’s important to stay focused on the big picture.
Data from EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report published this spring shows that net methane emissions from natural gas production fell 38 percent from 2005 to 2013 – even as natural gas production rose dramatically. Also: Methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells declined 79 percent from 2005 to 2013, EPA found.
That’s the appropriate context for 11 new studies just published in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology, reporting research in the Barnett Shale play in North Texas. The studies follow others coordinated by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). One released in 2013 found that methane emissions from natural gas drilling were a fraction of previous estimates. Another released earlier this year found that that vast majority of natural gas facilities – from the production phase to distribution via inter- and intra-state pipeline networks – recorded methane loss rates of below 1 percent.
Posted July 8, 2015
A barrel of crude oil or petroleum product shipped by pipeline is safely delivered to its destination more than 99.999 percent of the time, but the industry’s objective remains: zero releases, zero incidents.
Toward that goal, API has just released a new standard to guide operators in the development of a systems approach to safety management – helping them to continuously evaluate their efforts and constantly improve safety. API Midstream Director Robin Rorick:
“Pipelines are safe and efficient, but we are always looking for new ways to make them better, which is why industry is embracing this new standard. It’s also a great example of what can be done when industry, regulators and all key stakeholders work together to achieve a common objective, which is to protect the public, the environment and provide the fuels Americans need.”
Posted June 26, 2015
More from the new Wood Mackenzie study comparing the effects on the U.S. energy picture from pro-development policies versus a regulatory-constrained path. We’ve looked at the implications for energy supplies. Today we’ll zero in on two very different scenarios affecting individual American households.
Once again, the study compared impacts on key areas, depending on the energy policy path our country chooses. The pro-development path includes increased access to oil and natural gas reserves, approaches to regulation and permitting that encourage accelerated energy production and export policies that allow U.S. oil and natural gas to reach global markets, stimulating domestic output. The constrained path would pretty much maintain the status quo on access, regulation and exports – costing the United States, as the study shows.
Posted June 24, 2015
Houston Chronicle – The oil industry’s leading trade group on Tuesday kicked off its 2016 political campaigning, with plans to air issue advertising and hold events in battleground states.
The American Petroleum Institute launched its “Vote 4 Energy” with a pledge to stay above the partisan fray while ensuring that energy policy is part of the political discussion leading up to the November 2016 elections.
The group released a Wood Mackenzie study that it said illustrated the stark choice facing voters, by modeling how two different regulatory approaches to oil and gas would affect domestic production of those fossil fuels and economic activity related to them.
Under a relatively hands-off scenario with “pro-development” policies, the United States would gain 2.3 million U.S. jobs and $443 billion in economic activity by 2035, according to the API-commissioned analysis. Oil and natural gas production, meanwhile, would jump by 8 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, the study predicted.
Posted June 18, 2015
Here’s the first of a series of posts sparked by speeches and presentations at this week’s U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) energy conference. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz set the tone for EIA’s event, noting that the U.S. faces a set of energy challenges, vulnerabilities and opportunities. At the heart of the discussion: America’s energy resurgence. Moniz:
“By almost any simple measure for sure, our energy security position has been enhanced a great deal over the last several years: No. 1 producer of oil and gas, oil imports in terms of a fraction of crude plus products back at 1952 levels. In fact, our production increasing so substantially in the last five years that it has become a critical factor in global pricing dynamics, challenging decades-old assumptions by OPEC, for example. We have mothballed LNG import facilities are being repurposed for exports, likely to begin next year, and, frankly, likely to see us in several years at least become one of the major LNG players on the global scene.”
Moniz credited the energy revolution for rejuvenating U.S. manufacturing, particularly among energy-intensive industries that are capitalizing on affordable natural gas for power and/or as a feedstock for a variety of products. America’s increased use of natural gas also has helped lead U.S. efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, he said.
In all of the above, the secretary certainly makes good point. Thanks to innovative, advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the U.S. is the world’s energy-producing leader. America is stronger and its citizens are more prosperous because we’re producing more of the energy we use right here at home.
Posted June 17, 2015
Quick rewind to 2007, when Congress enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): The U.S. faced energy challenges – declining domestic production leading to greater dependence on imports and ever-increasing consumer costs. The RFS was conceived as a way to spur production of advanced biofuels that would help on imports and costs.
Today the energy landscape has completely changed. Thanks to surging domestic production from shale and other tight-rock formations with advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the United States is No. 1 in the world in the production of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons. Our imports are falling, and consumers have enjoyed lower prices at the pump.
Yet, the RFS remains – with its mandates for increasing use of ethanol in the fuel supply, seemingly impervious to the changed energy landscape, even as increased domestic oil production has checked off RFS objectives one by one. Even EPA’s latest proposal for ethanol use, while acknowledging that the RFS has serious flaws, continues to try to manage the behavior of markets and consumers, ironically leaving both on the sidelines.
That was the message in a telephone briefing with reporters hosted by API President and CEO Jack Gerard. Joining the call were Wayne Allard of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), Heather White of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Rob Green of the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR).
Posted June 10, 2015
The video below was featured during last week’s Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) National Conference in Philadelphia, which highlighted the organization’s efforts to mentor at-risk youth. Take a look. “Darryl’s Story” is a compelling example of the positive effects of adult role-modeling – the good that can result when kids learn to dream big and then to work on their dreams. The energy connection: For Darryl, the journey took him to the oil and natural gas industry.
As an industry that’s creating opportunities that can be the realization of aspirations for fulfilling, well-paying careers, API is proud to partner with BBBS. The great news is that the oil and natural gas industry needs more Darryls, more young men and women who want to be geologists, engineers, chemists and the other specialties that comprise our modern workforce.
Posted June 4, 2015
After five years and millions of taxpayer dollars, EPA says what we in industry and others have said for some time: Safe hydraulic fracturing doesn’t threaten our drinking water. The salient quote from EPA’s draft report about fracking and associated operational components:
“We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”
EPA’s findings discredit scaremongering used by fracking opponents and should help focus attention where industry is and has been focused – on continuous improvements in operational skill, guided by a set of rigorous best practices, and on technological advances.
EPA’s findings also effectively endorse the strong environmental stewardship that is being exercised by state regulators, who have been busy while EPA studied.
Posted June 4, 2015
A big event in Denver this week, highlighting the career opportunities for women in the oil and natural gas industry. “Women in Power” was attended by about 150 of Denver’s most influential female leaders and launched a larger Colorado initiative designed to help attract women to the industry and to retain them for life-long careers.
The Denver event was keynoted by Democratic strategist Celinda Lake and Republican strategist Linda DiVall, co-authors of a study released earlier this year that found the chief factor in increasing female representation in the oil and natural gas industry workforce is making them aware of the benefits of industry employment – including pay and security benefits and the chance for career advancement.
Posted May 29, 2015
With EPA already embarrassingly late in setting requirements for ethanol in the fuel supply for 2014 (due 18 months ago) and 2015 (due six months ago), the agency finally has proposals for those years and 2016 that would continue to drive ethanol use – though not at levels dictated by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Top EPA official Janet McCabe called the proposals “ambitious, but responsible.” We’ll agree on the ambitious part – in that it takes a whole lot of something to thread the needle between marketplace realities and the flawed RFS – difficult for the nimblest of bureaucracies, much less a regulatory colossus like EPA.
Unfortunately, EPA comes up short, particularly for 2016. An RFS program that long ago went awry remains lost in the tall weeds of process over substance.