We've spoken several times about how the United States has the potential to become energy self-sufficient through the shale revolution. Indeed, the U.S. could become the world's #1 exporter of energy, if the right policies are put into place.
As evidence that this is beginning to happen, Bloomberg reports that, in August, U.S. exports of petroleum hit record highs, and imports of crude oil hit record lows.
U.S. exports of petroleum products reached a record in August for the month as refiners boosted rates, the American Petroleum Institute said.
I have one of those "Earth at Night" maps from National Geographic on a wall in IPI's offices. Among the things it shows is places in Russia, the Middle East and East Africa that seem to be on fire. That's flaring--the burning off of gas or oil because for one reason or another it isn't being captured and refined.
Most of the time this is because of inefficient operations, lack of pipelines, etc. But according to a piece a few days ago in the San Antonio Express-News, there's quite a bit of flaring going on in U.S. shale formations like the Eagle Ford.
The article is reasonably fair and balanced, but, as Jon Cassidy at Watchdog.org points out, the main reason for flaring in the U.S. is the federal export ban on oil & natural gas.
There is one key fact, however, that went missing from the series, which explains a lot of what’s going on. If the reporters knew of it, they may have just decided it was beyond the scope of their story. It’s this: low natural gas prices are not some inalterable fact of the free market. They are largely the result of a federal ban on natural gas exports that dates back to the Arab Oil Embargo.
According to a piece in the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. energy boom is not about to run out:
The number of rigs drilling in the U.S. is basically flat, but production is rising. The federal Energy Information Administration calls this "drilling productivity" and says it is showing no sign of slowing.
Lynn Westfall, the EIA's director of energy markets and financial analysis, points out that the rig count in South Texas' Eagle Ford Shale "has not changed since 2012, but the production per new well has doubled."
Innovation makes the difference. The federal government recently predicted that oil production would rise through 2019 and then flatten off. But a second scenario in the report assumed that extraction technology would continue to improve, leading crude output to rise through 2040, if not longer.
Interesting piece in Quartz about how the U.S. shale revolution has dramatically stabilized world oil and gas prices, saving the world almost $5 billion every day:
Oil prices continue to plunge today despite the beheading of another western hostage by the Islamic State, tensions between Russia and the West, and mayhem in Libya. As Quartz has reported, one of the main reasons is surging US oil production, which has made up for supply disruption almost barrel for barrel—and is also a bad sign for the leaders of petrostates.
Now we have an estimate of where oil prices might have been absent the American oil boom—a sobering $150 a barrel, former BP CEO Tony Hayward told the Financial Times (paywall).
That’s 55% higher than the current benchmark price of $96.27 that was trading in Asia this morning. If Hayward’s number is right, it means that the US boom is saving the global economy about $4.9 billion a day in oil spending. Global consumers currently demand about 92 million barrels of oil a day, and without the extra US supply the market would be about 3 million barrels short, sufficient to send traders into a frenzy bidding up the price.
Since 2011, US oil production has soared by about 3 million barrels a day, to about 8.5 million barrels, thanks mostly to the technique of hydraulic fracturing in shale oil fields. That is just a bit less than the volume of oil production that has been persistently off line since the 2011 Arab Spring ushered in the three-year wave of unusual oil disruptions the world has experienced. When you add in a 1-million-barrel-a-day rise in Canadian oil production in the same time period, North America as a region has swamped the lost barrels.
Quotes from UNT Prof. Adam Briggle that Undermine his Call for a Ban on Fracking in the City of Denton, Texas
Last night I had the pleasure of taking part in a debate over the proposed ban on fracking in the City of Denton, Texas. My debate partner was Dr. Ed Ireland of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, and our opponents were Professor Adam Briggle of the University of North Texas, and Calvin Tillman, the former mayor of DISH, Texas.
My side was in favor of energy exploration and opposed to the ban on fracking.
During my research for the debate I found a number of articles by Prof. Briggle where he expressed sentiments that were often reasonable and that thus undermined his case for the fracking ban. I used a few of these quotes in last night’s debate, but not all of them.
Some folks have asked me for copies of those quotes, so I’m reproducing them here, with links to their sources.