Posted May 14, 2015
Wall Street Journal: After slashing production for months, U.S. shale-oil companies say they are ready to bring rigs back into service, setting up the first big test of their ability to quickly react to rising crude prices.
Last week, EOG Resources Inc. EOG, -0.08% said it would ramp up output if U.S. prices hold at recent levels, while Occidental Petroleum Corp. OXY, +0.93% boosted planned production for the year. Other drillers said they would open the taps if U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate CLM5, -0.88% reaches $70 a barrel. WTI settled at $60.50 Wednesday, while global benchmark Brent LCOM5, -0.13% settled at $66.81.
An increase in U.S. production, coupled with rising output by suppliers such as Russia and Brazil, could put a cap on the 40% rally in crude prices since March and even push them lower later in the year, some analysts say.
“U.S. supply could quickly rebound in response to the recent recovery in prices,” said Tom Pugh, a commodities economist at Capital Economics. “Based on the historical relationship with prices, the fall in the number of drilling rigs already looks overdone, and activity is likely to rebound over the next few months.”
Posted May 13, 2015
The Hill: Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) have introduced a bill to lift the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports.
The bill would fulfill one of Murkowski’s biggest energy priorities and allow American oil companies to export crude oil as they do petroleum products. It would also allow exports of condensate, a type of light crude oil.
“America’s energy landscape has changed dramatically since the export ban was put in place in the 1970s. We have moved from energy scarcity to energy abundance. Unfortunately, our energy policies have not kept pace,” Murkowski said in a statement.
“This legislation builds from bipartisan ideas, linking energy security and infrastructure to expanding exports and helping our allies. Our nation has an opportunity to embrace its role as a global energy powerhouse, sending a signal to the world that we are open for business and will stand by our friends in need.”
Posted May 12, 2015
Encana President and CEO Doug Suttles participated in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s CEO Leadership Series last week with a luncheon address and a Q&A session with Linda Harbert of the Institute for 21st Century Energy. Highlights of the conversation below. Suttles joined Alberta-based Encana as president and CEO in June 2013. He has 30 years of oil and natural gas industry experience in various engineering and leadership roles. Before joining Encana, Suttles held a number of leadership posts with BP, including chief operating officer of BP Exploration & Production and BP Alaska president.
Q: You opened your talk by saying I’m a North American energy company. … Can you shed a little light on the differences and similarities between operating in Canada and the U.S.?
Suttles: They’re not as big as many people would think. First of all, in the places we operate – Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and then Alberta and British Columbia – these are all natural resource states, and they understand that and I think the people and political leaders understand the importance, too. Both countries have high environmental expectations.
Probably the biggest difference you’d really see between them is the remoteness of operations, which creates a unique challenge in Canada. Many of our operations are away from large towns and cities … But you have an environment where I think people understand the benefits of our industry. They promote the industry, they support it.
Posted May 12, 2015
Wall Street Journal: The U.S. government Monday conditionally approved Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean this summer, removing the biggest remaining obstacle before the company can explore for oil and natural gas in the Arctic’s frigid, isolated waters.
The announcement adds to a mix of decisions by the Obama administration that have restricted and granted new domestic fossil-fuel development.
Though affecting just one company, the approval is a victory for the oil-and-gas industry, which has criticized recent regulations affecting the sector, including tougher requirements on hydraulic fracturing and trains hauling flammable oil. Monday’s approval is tied to regulations proposed by the government in February for Arctic drilling operations off the coast of Alaska that could pave the way for additional companies exploring in the region.
Posted April 27, 2015
Wall Street Journal op-ed (John Hess): While one can debate the reasons for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ decision in November to continue flooding the oil markets, the fact is that this is squeezing many U.S. shale oil producers out of business. Oil prices have dropped by 50% in the past six months, and crude oil inventories in the U.S. have grown from 350 million barrels last year to more than 480 million barrels today.
Part of the reason inventory has ballooned is that crude produced in the U.S. is literally trapped here, because American firms are not allowed to sell it overseas. An antiquated rule bans crude oil exports from the lower 48 American states, even though producers could earn $5-$14 more per barrel by selling on the world market. At this moment the U.S. government is considering lifting sanctions on Iranian crude oil exports. Why not lift the self-imposed “sanctions” on U.S. crude exports that have been in place for the past four decades?
The export ban is a relic of a previous era, put in place around the time of the 1973 Arab oil embargo against the U.S., when Washington thought very differently about ensuring America’s energy needs. Other measures related to the 1973 embargo, such as price controls and rationing, were eliminated decades ago, as policy makers realized that they impeded, rather than aided, American energy security. But the ban on crude oil exports persists.
There is no defensible justification for the continued ban on the export of U.S. crude oil.
Posted April 21, 2015
The theme of this year’s CERAWeek mega-conference in Houston is “Turning Point: Energy’s New World.” It is a new world, with the United States producing more energy from oil and natural gas – the lead fuels of the U.S. and the world’s economies – than any other country. Just a decade ago few could have imagined the possibilities.
Posted April 16, 2015
For months we’ve argued that new federal regulation targeting methane emissions from energy development is unnecessary and could undermine the success industry initiatives already are achieving. Howard Feldman, API’s senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs, from earlier this year:
“Methane is the product we bring to market. We sell methane – that is natural gas. That’s what we want to sell. … We don’t need regulation to tell us to do that because we are incentivized to do that. It’s not a byproduct or something. It is the product we’re selling. … We’re developing these technologies because we want to more and more capture natural gas.”
This is exactly what’s happening, as new data from EPA shows.
Posted April 15, 2015
Wall Street Journal (subscription publication): The U.S. could soon export more energy than it imports, significantly changing the country’s appetite for foreign fuels starting as early as 2020, according to a new report from the Energy Information Administration.
Despite energy prices that are sharply lower today than they were a year ago, the federal government’s new outlook forecasts that U.S. oil and natural gas production will continue to rise over the next five years.
As American drillers keep pumping, the U.S. will meet more of its own energy needs. The trend will also boost the amount of natural gas, refined fuels such as diesel and ultralight oil the U.S. has available to ship overseas, reversing the country’s energy importing trend that has been in place since the 1950s.
Posted April 14, 2015
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) new Annual Energy Outlook for 2015 contains a number of stats, charts and projections, but you could boil them down to a couple of important points.
First, oil and natural gas are and will continue to be the foundation of an all-of-the-above energy approach that’s key to continued U.S. economic growth, energy security and overall security. EIA says oil (36 percent) and natural gas (27 percent) supply 63 percent of America’s energy now, and EIA projects they will supply 62 percent in 2040 (oil 33 percent and natural gas 29 percent). This is because oil and natural gas are high in energy content, portable and reliable. They’re the workhorse fuels of the broader economy, making modern living possible as fuels and as the building blocks for a number of products Americans depend on every day. America is and will be dependent on a variety of energies, but oil and natural gas are and will play leading roles.
The great news is the U.S. is in the midst of a revolution in domestic oil and natural gas production, leading to a second big takeaway from EIA’s report – that domestic output is and will continue to reduce U.S. dependence on imported energy.
Posted April 7, 2015
BloombergView: It's a pernicious bit of American mythology that is used to justify the law against domestic oil producers selling their crude overseas: The U.S. needs "energy independence." Never mind that the law actually undermines this goal, or that the goal itself is practically impossible to achieve. It's the wrong goal. What the U.S. should be striving for is not independence, but energy security.
The story behind the myth goes something like this: If the U.S. doesn't hoard all its oil, then it can't hope to attain energy independence. And until it does that, it has to keep buying oil from politically unstable or unfriendly regimes. Therefore U.S. consumers must tolerate volatile prices for gasoline and heating oil.
The tale is false, but it brushes against one truth: When instability in other countries affects the price of oil, the U.S. economy can suffer. Just last month, the price jumped almost 5 percent when Saudi bombs began to fall on rebel targets in Yemen. Such unpredictable spikes make it difficult for many U.S. businesses to plan ahead, and this means less investment and less hiring.