Posted June 26, 2015
API Downstream Group Director Bob Greco traveled this week to EPA’s field hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in Kansas City, to detail concerns over the flawed program, with its market-distorting mandates for ever-increasing use of ethanol in the national fuel supply. His remarks, as prepared for delivery:
The Ethanol Blend Wall
Our members’ primary RFS concern is the ethanol blend wall. Serious vehicle and retail infrastructure compatibility issues exist with gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol. We are encouraged that EPA has proposed to address this reality.
Gasoline demand increases projected in 2007 did not materialize, and Congress granted EPA the authority to balance its aspirational goals with reality. API supports EPA’s use of its explicit RFS waiver authorities in 2014, ‘15, ‘16, and beyond to avoid negative impacts on America’s fuel supply and to prevent harm to American consumers.
Posted June 26, 2015
Forbes (Clemente) – The short answer to the question posed is … a lot. Or at least way more than many groups and people out there want you to believe. Today, the world is swimming in oil, and prices have been sliced in half over the past year. “Peak oil” theory for production is predicated on the work of legendary geologist M.King Hubbert, who in 1956 employed his now famous/infamous “Hubbert curve” to predict U.S. petroleum production would peak in 1970. For many years he appeared to be correct, but the “shale revolution” is on the verge of proving him premature.
False pessimistic predictions regarding future oil production dates back to the beginning of the modern oil era in the mid-1850s, and can quickly ensnare the best experts with the most resources available. To illustrate, the Joint Operating Environment 2010 report (“the JOE report”) from the U.S. Joint Forces Command, the leader for the transformation of U.S. military capabilities from 1999-2011, projected a 10 million b/d global supply shortfall for 2015. Now, just five years later, we have a 2-3 million b/d surplus.
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 17, 2015
The Hill – A new Republican bill introduced Tuesday would completely repeal the federal mandate to blend ethanol into the nation’s gasoline supply.
Sen. Bill Cassidy’s (R-La.) legislation would completely do away with the renewable fuel standard, which first took effect in 2005 and now requires increasing levels of ethanol and biodiesel to be put into traditional fossil fuels.
The mandate invites frequent criticism from Republicans, the oil industry and sectors that complain the demand it creates for corn ethanol increases agricultural prices.
“Workers, refiners, producers, farmers and ranchers across the country are affected by the renewable fuel standard,” Cassidy said in a statement. “More mandates mean less jobs. It means families are paying more for gas and groceries.”
Posted June 10, 2015
BloombergBusiness – The U.S. has taken Russia’s crown as the biggest oil and natural-gas producer in a demonstration of the seismic shifts in the world energy landscape emanating from America’s shale fields.
U.S. oil production (green line in chart, left) rose to a record last year, gaining 1.6 million barrels a day, according to BP Plc’s Statistical Review of World Energy released on Wednesday. Gas output also climbed, putting America ahead of Russia as a producer of the hydrocarbons combined.
The data showing the U.S.’s emergence as the top driller confirms a trend that’s helped the world’s largest economy reduce imports, caused a slump in global energy prices and shifted the country’s foreign policy priorities.
“We are truly witnessing a changing of the guard of global energy suppliers,” BP Chief Economist Spencer Dale said in a presentation. “The implications of the shale revolution for the U.S. are profound.”
Posted June 8, 2015
Platts (The Barrel Blog) – When OPEC left production unchanged in November last year many understood it to be US or Canadian tight oil producers who would suffer, but thanks to technological advances — to paraphrase Mark Twain — the reports of the death of the tight boom have been greatly exaggerated.
After OPEC’s announcement of stable production, crude prices fell under $50/b, and the obituaries began to be written.
But lower prices forced companies to become hyper-vigilant on costs, and the result was the opposite of what may have been intended. US and Canadian production continued to grow, and E&P companies became leaner and more efficient — leading to a more competitive industry.
The savings from technological advances and more efficient internal processes, unlike the drop in rig dayrates that could rise again when the market turns, will be a more permanent feature of the North American oil market.
The numbers tell the story. The North American oil rig count dropped from its peak in early October at 1,609 to 646 for the week-ending May 29, yet productions is headed in the opposite direction — US oil output hit 9.586 million b/d, its highest daily rate since the EIA began weekly production reports in 1983. The EIA recently forecast another million b/d of oil production growth until it peaks in 2020 at 10.603 million b/d.
Posted June 3, 2015
The Hill: House Republicans have found reasons to agree with some parts of the Obama administration’s energy infrastructure proposal.
GOP leaders in the House Energy and Commerce Committee told Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz that they are largely in agreement on the need to improve pipelines, electric transmission lines, energy storage and other pieces of infrastructure.
Moniz testified at the hearing to promote the Quadrennial Energy Review, which the administration released in April to call for comprehensive infrastructure improvements worth billions of dollars.
“Many people are even asking — not surprisingly — is there enough common ground between our efforts and the Obama administration to enact meaningful energy legislation,” Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the energy and power subcommittee, said at the Tuesday hearing.
Posted June 2, 2015
With EPA last week proposing ethanol-use requirements for 2014, 2015 and 2016 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the ethanol industry no doubt will keep lobbying to foist increasing amounts of higher-ethanol blend fuels like E15 and E85 on the motoring public. This, despite studies that have shown E15 can harm engines and fuel systems in vehicles that weren’t designed to use it – potentially voiding manufacturers’ warranties – and historically small consumer demand for E85.
A subset of the argument for increased use of higher-ethanol blend fuels is the dismissing of concern that E15 also could damage existing service station infrastructure, including storage tanks, fuel lines and dispensers. Though service station owners and operators indicate otherwise, ethanol supporters say that a new National Renewable Energy Laborary (NREL) report – commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), a big ethanol advocate – found that E15 is compatible with existing equipment. It’s simply not true, and the report has some challenges. Let’s look at a few.
Posted June 1, 2015
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op-ed (Eberhart): ... Since 2000, global LNG demand has grown an estimated 7.6 percent per year. And that rate is expected to increase: Ernst & Young predicts that by 2030 global demand will reach 500 million metric tons, doubling 2012 levels.
At the same time, because of the surge of natural gas from American shale, the United States is awash in the stuff, with domestic natural gas production increasing 41 percent in the past decade alone.
Ten years ago we were an LNG importer. Today we’re the world’s largest natural gas producer.
And with the amount of technically recoverable natural gas in the United States 100 times greater than our current consumption, we have a boon to the economy that is expected to contribute up to 665,000 net jobs and $115 billion to GDP by 2035. We are expected to have enough gas to meet our own needs while also helping to satisfy staggering demand in places like Japan, Korea, India, China and Taiwan.
Clearly, this is an opportunity we don’t want to miss. But a protracted, redundant and expensive approval process could put it just out of reach.
Posted May 27, 2015
Wall Street Journal commentary (Engler and McGarvey): America’s business and labor leaders agree: President Obama and Congress can do more to modernize the permitting process for infrastructure projects—airports, factories, power plants and pipelines—which at the moment is burdensome, slow and inconsistent.
Gaining approval to build a new bridge or factory typically involves review by multiple federal agencies—such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Interior Department, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Land Management—with overlapping jurisdictions and no real deadlines. Often, no single federal entity is responsible for managing the process. Even after a project is granted permits, lawsuits can hold things up for years—or, worse, halt a half-completed construction project.