Posted August 7, 2014
Answers: The monthly mortgage payment, the carpool getting you to your first day at work, the flight to your Tahiti vacation, that Mother’s Day card. And … finalizing annual ethanol requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Question: What are some things that shouldn’t be late?
OK, so most people understand the importance of timeliness in the first four items above. Yet, for the nation’s refining sector, EPA's annual responsibility to establish how much ethanol must be blended into the nation’s fuel supply under the RFS also is a big deal.
The RFS tasks EPA with setting ethanol requirements for the next calendar year by Nov. 30 of the preceding year. That way, refiners can make plans to comply with the RFS. Setting the requirements, on time, is EPA’s job. So, how’s the agency been doing lately? Not too well, as the following graphic illustrates.
Posted August 5, 2014
Wall Street Journal (Thomas Tunstall): The unexpected increase in the production of shale oil, a light oil called condensate and natural gas in the U.S. has upended many assumptions about the U.S. energy market. As the oil and gas bonanza continues, the U.S. ban on crude-oil exports looks increasingly outdated, arbitrary and economically damaging. With Europe poised to endanger its gas supply by imposing more sanctions on its major supplier Russia, the possibility of energy exports from America takes on an important security dimension too.
Thanks to fracking and other unconventional shale-extraction technology, natural gas is the biggest energy story in the U.S. now. In the early 2000s, natural-gas pipeline companies—such as Cheniere and Freeport LNG—spent billions on import facilities as U.S. production decreased, to less than 19 trillion cubic feet in 2005 from roughly 22 trillion cubic feet in 1970.
Since 2006, however, natural-gas production in the U.S. has soared. The U.S. now produces more than 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas a year, the most in the country's more than 100-year history of gas exploration and production. As a result, billions of dollars are now being invested to convert many of the facilities designed to receive imported gas into export facilities.
Posted July 29, 2014
We posted a couple of times on a Chicago proposal to require city service stations to carry E15 (here and here). The good news is that this bad-news idea looks like it’s stuck in first gear. Local reports say a City Council committee took no action Monday after a marathon hearing ran out of gas (their pun, not mine).
The discussion included an E15 claim that’s worth another dose of debunking – that NASCAR’s use of E15 proves its suitability for your car or truck. Michael Lynch, NASCAR’s VP for green innovation, spoke at the hearing:
“We’ve been running now for six million miles, Sunoco Green E15 – which is exactly the kind of street fuel that is being proposed here – with great performance, and no issues whatsoever.”
Sigh. The what’s-good-for-NASCAR-is-good-for-the-family-car line, seemingly impermeable to fact, is a special favorite of the ethanol crowd (that’s Sen. Al Franken joy-riding the ethanol wagon, here). Previous posts debunking the NASCAR comparison here, here and here, but with racing’s 6 million-mile milestone approaching, we’ll take another shot.
Posted July 28, 2014
In a new update to its drilling productivity report from last week, the Energy Information Agency said North Dakota's Bakken and Texas' Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale are quietly generating more than a million barrels of oil per day each–comprising at least a third of total U.S. daily oil production. Shale oil drilling generated the equivalent of nearly 90 percent of the U.S.'s total energy needs in 2013, according to EIA figures.
Mark Perry, an economist at the University of Michigan and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, crunched the EIA's numbers even further. His analysis suggests the output of the combined three oil fields is actually exceeding 4 million bpd, which would make them the world's fifth largest oil producer by volume.
"In all of human history, there have only been ten oil fields in the world that have ever reached the one million barrel per day milestone," the economist wrote in a recent blog post. "Three of those ten are now active in the US–thanks to the advanced drilling techniques that started accessing oceans of shale oil in Texas and North Dakota about five years ago."
Posted July 25, 2014
Another of Big Ethanol’s favorite lines is the claim that Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use are reducing oil imports. As we noted in this Bob Greco post from April 2013, ethanol proponents keep saying this despite the fact there’s little factual basis for it. Let’s update that post.
First, we know that net crude oil imports are falling, and that’s a very good thing for America. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that in 2013 net crude imports were at their lowest level since 1988, and EIA projects that net imports’ share of overall U.S. petroleum and other liquids use could approach zero by 2040 – a good definition of U.S. energy self-sufficiency. Big Ethanol likes wrapping itself in that mantle because it boosts the flawed RFS. But it’s not deserved.
U.S. net imports of crude fell more than 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) from the beginning of 2008 through the end of 2013. Again, great news. Over the same period domestic crude production increased more than 2.4 million bpd. You don’t need a slide rule to understand that the increase in domestic production accounts for all of the reduction in imports.
Posted July 25, 2014
Posted July 24, 2014
Reading content produced by opponents of the oil and natural gas industry, you see a lot of distortion, misinformation, myth and falsehood. Yet, it would be hard to identify something as packed with baloney as the supporting arguments for an idea that’s being advanced by a pair of Chicago aldermen – mandating that all of the city’s self-service gas stations offer E15 fuel.
Backers of the soon-to-be-voted-on proposal have a website, www.cleartheairchicago.com, that’s basically a clearinghouse for corn ethanol industry sophistry, trumpeting E15 as the elixir of cleaner air, reduced oil imports and lower gasoline prices – taking advantage of the public’s earnestness for all three. Unfortunately, the promises they attach to E15 are like so much snake oil.
Over and over we’ve rebutted Big Ethanol’s E15 arguments – underlying the special interest’s work to prop up the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard’s mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use. A number of them are repeated to support the Chicago proposal: E15 is cleaner and cheaper than the E10 gasoline that’s the staple of the U.S. fuel supply. It’s acceptable for use in U.S. vehicles and is actually better for them than E10. E15, they claim, is about promoting consumer choice.
Posted July 18, 2014
Check out our new cartoon, which pokes fun at what actually is pretty big drawback with E85, the fuel containing up to 85 percent ethanol that some think is key to salvaging the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Sure, it’s a cartoon. But it helps illustrate a real dilemma with E85 – its significant fuel economy disadvantage compared to the E10 fuel that’s the staple of the U.S. fuel supply.
Basically, because ethanol is less energy-dense than gasoline, fuel that’s up to 85 percent ethanol gets fewer miles per gallon than fuel that’s only 10 percent ethanol. Here’s a sample search from the Energy Department’s fuel economy comparison tool, which shows this in specific vehicle types – fewer mpg with E85, higher average annual fuel costs.
Posted June 27, 2014
Count the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) among those cautioning that rising ethanol mandates in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) could negatively impact consumers. In a new analysis, CBO says RFS ethanol requirements by 2017 could cause an increase of 13 cents to 26 cents per gallon in the price of E10 gasoline, the most common vehicular fuel used in the U.S., a rise of 4 percent to 9 percent, and an increase of 30 cents to 51 cents per gallon in the price of petroleum-based diesel, or 9 percent to 14 percent.
Posted June 18, 2014
Almost half of 2014 is behind us, and yet EPA still hasn’t finalized the ethanol requirements for this year. This is not a recipe for predictability and reliability in the gasoline markets, and the administration’s inability to meet the congressionally-mandated deadline of November 30th is a clear example of how unworkable the RFS is.