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.
Posted April 6, 2015
Statistics in the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Monthly Energy Review for March show U.S. domestic energy production meeting about 89 percent of the country’s total energy demand. That’s up from 84 percent in 2013 and 2012 and reflects a key result of the domestic energy revolution: growing U.S. self-sufficiency.
EIA data shows U.S. energy production as a percentage of total demand. Total energy production (fossil fuels, nuclear electric power and renewables – again, as a percentage of total U.S. energy demand -- was about 69 percent in 2005, and it grew to about 89 percent last year. The share of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) accounted for approximately 55 percent in 2005, growing to about 70 percent last year.
Posted April 6, 2015
MarketWatch: U.S. oil production is on track to reach an annual all-time high by September of this year, according to Rystad Energy.
If production does indeed top out, then supply levels may soon hit a peak as well. That, in turn, could lead to shrinking supplies.
The oil-and-gas consulting-services firm estimates an average 2015 output of 9.65 million barrels a day will be reached in five months — topping the previous peak annual reading of 9.64 million barrels a day in 1970.
Coincidentally, the nation’s crude inventories stand at a record 471.4 million barrels, based on data from U.S. Energy Information Administration, also going back to the 1970s.
Posted March 24, 2015
Posted March 20, 2015
Some important context to the new federal hydraulic fracturing rule announced by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is found in looking at the recent trend in federal onshore energy development.
It’s not an inspiring picture. Since BLM deals with onshore energy, let’s look at oil and natural gas output together, measured in barrels of oil equivalent (boe). Federal onshore production has declined from 1.8 million boe in fiscal year 2009 to 1.6 million boe in FY2014, a decline of 11.3 percent, according to federal data.
Breaking out the natural gas production figures, the decline is more dramatic. Onshore production of natural gas in federal areas fell from 8.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in FY2009 to 6.8 Bcf/d in FY2014, a drop of21.6 percent.
The reason is federal policy. Whether you’re talking about access to reserves or permitting red tape, the bottom-line result is declining production.