North America

Five missing after Oklahoma oil and gas drilling site explosion

23 Jan 2018   USA

Five workers were missing after a fiery explosion on Monday at an oil and gas drilling site in eastern Oklahoma, officials said. The fire had been fed by gas from a well being drilled for Red Mountain Energy by Patterson-UTI Energy Inc, preventing a full search of the scene throughout the day, but was later extinguished, the Pittsburg County Emergency Management Department (PCEMD) said in a statement. Houston-based Patterson-UTI said in a statement late on Monday the cause of the well explosion remained unclear. It said three of the five missing workers were its employees. Patterson-UTI declined to identify the workers, who were also not identified by local authorities. “Well control experts and emergency responders are on site and we will conduct a thorough investigation when the incident is fully contained,” Patterson-UTI Chief Executive Andy Hendricks said in a statement. PCEMD director Kevin Enloe said one […]

Drilling services company Halliburton upbeat about North America

23 Jan 2018   USA

After a year of volatility, the recovery in crude oil prices so far this year could support growth in North America, drilling services company Halliburton said. Halliburton posted mixed results for the fourth quarter , taking an $805 million loss. Adjusted income, not counting the charges from U.S. tax reform or operations in strife-torn Venezuela, was $462 million, up from the $365 million in the third quarter. Total fourth-quarter revenue was $5.9 million, up 9 percent from the third quarter. President and CEO Jeff Miller said last year was a “dynamic year” for the oil and gas sector, but the company was able to maintain value in an industry that saw sharp contractions in previous years. The Organization of […]

Trump’s Offshore Drilling Plan Is A Slippery Slope

23 Jan 2018   Offshore, USA

The Trump Administration has offered to open more than 90 percent of the federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for consideration of future exploration and development. The proposal is in stark contrast to the current lease sale program that puts 94 percent of the shelf off limits. “The important thing is we strike the right balance to protect our coasts and people while still powering America and achieving American Energy Dominance,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said upon announcing the plan. The OCS is thought to contain billions of barrels of technically recoverable oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas that could potentially enhance U.S. energy security. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) latest estimates from 2016 show a mean of 89.87 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and a mean of 327.49 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable natural gas in the […]

Trump administration puts 30% tariff on solar panel imports

23 Jan 2018   Solar, USA

The US Trade Representative said Monday that President Donald Trump has approved recommendations to impose tariffs on imported solar cells and modules over the next four years. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the decision calls for a 30% “safeguard” tariff on modules and cells in the first year, declining to 25% in the second year, 20% in the third year and 15% in the fourth year. “Additionally, the first 2.5 GW of imported cells will be exempt from the safeguard tariff in each of those four years,” he said. Lighthizer said the USTR made the recommendations to the president based on consultations with the interagency Trade Policy Committee in response to findings by the independent, bipartisan US International Trade Commission. The ITC had said that increased foreign imports of solar cells and modules were a “substantial cause of serious injury to domestic manufacturers,” the USTR said. The main […]

The World’s Most Innovative Gas Field

22 Jan 2018   Shale Gas, USA

Appalachian gas production has surged over eighty five percent (from 13,837 bcf/d to 26, 027 bcf/d) since 2014. The region has one the most productive and economic gas acreage in the country, and today it produces more gas than all other shale plays in the United States combined. Now, with the slate of pipeline projects coming on-line in 2018 Marcellus and Utica molecules can finally reach end consumers in larger markets creating a more adequate price equilibrium throughout the United States regions. During cold winter months this will translate into thousands of dollars saved on energy bills for consumers in Midwest and Atlantic Seaboard. Appalachian gas today is well positioned to change long established regional dynamics of gas pricing and flow while transforming the United States energy economy for years to come. It is worthwhile to have another look into why Appalachia matters today more than ever to the […]

Gas from Russian Arctic to warm homes in Boston

22 Jan 2018   Russia, USA

A tanker was crossing the Atlantic on Sunday to warm New England households with natural gas whose sources are thought to include a project in the Russian Arctic under US sanctions.  The US has never before imported LNG from Russia, according to government records. The Gaselys left the UK’s Isle of Grain terminal with a cargo of liquefied natural gas two weeks ago. Engie, the French energy group that owns it, said the tanker was headed for its LNG import terminal at Everett, Massachusetts. The cargo will replenish storage facilities depleted by a record winter cold spell.  Some of the gas originated from Russia’s new Yamal LNG export terminal, which was opened formally by President Vladimir Putin last month, analysts said. Yamal was hit by US sanctions in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Shipments of Russian oil and gas are not subject to sanctions, but “US persons and those in the US” are prohibited from financing Novatek, the lead company in Yamal LNG. Engie said it purchased the cargo on a spot basis to supplement supplies coming from Trinidad and Tobago.

The transaction complied with US trade laws, it added. The prospect of Siberian gas heating New England homes highlights the fraught role of energy in Russia’s relationship with the US.  Thanks to the shale boom, the US eclipsed Russia as the world’s largest gas producer and since 2016 has exported LNG to states including Russian neighbours Lithuania and Poland. With more export plants to come into service to 2020, the Trump administration has been encouraged to talk about a policy of “energy dominance”.  The $27bn Yamal project is, meanwhile, central to Russia’s efforts to stay competitive in global markets. “There isn’t really anything intellectually inconsistent about a dominant America buying Russian gas,” said Kevin Book, managing director of ClearView Energy Partners, a US-based consultancy. “There may be something politically troubling about it.”  The first shipment of gas from Yamal arrived at the Isle of Grain LNG terminal in south-east England last month, a propaganda coup for Russia. Its embassy in London tweeted that the imported Siberian gas would soon be heating UK homes as the country faced its coldest weather of the winter.

Exclusive: Trump’s coal job push stumbles in most states

20 Jan 2018   Coal, USA

President Donald Trump’s effort to put coal miners back to work stumbled in most coal producing states lcoal-producing as overall employment in the downtrodden sector grew modestly, according to preliminary government data obtained by Reuters. Trump made reviving the coal industry, and the declining communities that depend upon its jobs, a central tenet in his presidential campaign and has rolled back Obama-era environmental regulations to give the industry a boost. But the effort has had little impact on domestic demand for coal so far, with U.S. utilities still shutting coal-fired power plants and shifting to cheaper natural gas – moving toward a lower carbon future despite the direction the White House is plotting under Trump. Unreleased full-year coal employment data from the Mining Health and Safety Administration shows total U.S. coal mining jobs grew by 771 to 54,819 during Trump’s first year in office, […]

U.S. oil drillers cut rigs for second time in three weeks:

20 Jan 2018   Shale Oil, USA

U.S. energy companies this week cut oil rigs for the second time in three weeks even though crude prices traded near their highest level since 2014. Drillers cut five oil rigs in the week to Jan. 19, bringing the total count down to 747, General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday. The U.S. rig count, an early indicator of future output, is much higher than a year ago when only 551 rigs were active after energy companies boosted spending in 2017 as crude started recovering from a two-year price crash. U.S. crude futures traded above $63 a barrel on Friday after hitting $64.89 this week, its highest since December 2014. That compares with averages of $50.85 in 2017 and $43.47 in 2016. Looking ahead, futures were trading around $62 for the balance of 2018 and $58 for calendar […]

U.S. Oil Output Expected to Surpass Saudi Arabia, Rivaling Russia for Top Spot

20 Jan 2018   USA

An offshore oil platform is seen in Huntington Beach, Calif. The International Energy Agency said in its monthly report that it expects U.S. oil production to overtake Saudi Arabia’s in 2018. LONDON—Surging U.S. crude oil production this year is expected to surpass output in Saudi Arabia and rival that of Russia, the world’s two largest oil producers, the International Energy Agency said Friday. Boosted by a resurgent shale industry, U.S. crude production will likely climb above 10 million barrels a day in 2018, an all-time high not seen since 1970, the agency said in its closely watched monthly oil market report. The IEA raised its outlook for U.S. crude supply this year by 260,000 barrels a day, to a record 10.4 million barrels a day, largely a result of the recent rally in crude prices . “The stage was set for a strong expansion last year when non-OPEC supply, […]

EIA expects total U.S. fossil fuel production to reach record levels in 2018 and 2019

20 Jan 2018   Shale Oil, USA

In its January 2018 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA forecasts that total fossil fuels production in the United States will average almost 73 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2018, the highest level of production on record. EIA expects total fossil fuel production to then set another record in 2019, with production forecast to rise to 75 quadrillion Btu. Fossil fuels include dry natural gas, crude oil, coal, and hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL). Although EIA tends to express fossil fuel production in physical units, such as cubic feet for natural gas, barrels for oil, and tons for coal, expressing production in heat content allows for comparisons across fuel types. Record production levels are largely attributable to increased production of natural gas and crude oil enabled by the use of hydraulic fracturing techniques in tight rock formations. EIA […]

Oil Rig Count Declines Amid Falling Prices

20 Jan 2018   Shale Oil, USA

The number of active oil and gas rigs fell this week, according to Baker Hughes data , decreasing by 3 total rigs. This brings the total number of oil and gas rigs to 936, which is an addition of 242 rigs year over year. The number of oil rigs in the United States fell by 5 this week after gaining 10 last week, while the number of gas rigs increased by 2. The number of oil rigs stands at 747 versus 551 a year ago. The number of gas rigs in the US now stands at 189, up 142 a year ago. At 10:11am EST, the price of a WTI barrel was trading down $0.40 (-0.63%) to $63.49—nearly the same as this time last week. The Brent barrel was trading down $0.40 (-0.58%) to $68.91. Prices fell further in the early afternoon prior to the data release. US crude […]

US government shutdown would stall oil and gas permitting

20 Jan 2018   USA

If the US Congress fails to pass a short-term spending bill and the federal government shuts down this week, oil and natural gas permitting in federal lands and waters is expected to stall, government statistics which often move energy markets will not be updated and environmental enforcement could be suspended. The government’s temporary funding is set to expire Friday and expectations of a shutdown increased Thursday. The House was expected to vote on a short-term spending bill Thursday night, but growing opposition to the bill has left its fate unclear. Here’s how the potential shutdown could impact the oil and gas industry: During the 16-day government shutdown in October 2013, the US Energy Information Administration continued to collect data but did not issue new reports. “The website was kept open, but without updates,” said Adam Sieminski, EIA’s administrator at the time. Weekly reports, including the Weekly Petroleum Status Report […]

Alaska oil producers focus on efficiencies, not $70 oil

20 Jan 2018   Arctic, USA

The rebound in the price of crude oil in recent months that has helped producers will be temporary, and the industry must prepare for competition from energy sources elsewhere, the head of the Alaska operations of BP Plc said at an industry conference on Friday. “We might be enjoying prices today that are over $70 a barrel. But when you look at the fundamentals, at BP anyway, we still think lower for even longer. And staying competitive is very important,” Janet Weiss, president of BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., said in a speech to the Alaska Support Industry Alliance. “When you look at the fundamentals – and you take a look at supply and demand out in time and what is going on with renewables and what is going on with electric cars – and yes, there’s a demand for oil, but there’s a whole lot more of it out there,” she said.

“So it’s the low-cost basins that will get to produce. Not all the barrels in Alaska are going to be produced if we don’t make them competitive.”Weiss was not specific in her speech but later told Reuters, “definitely not 70s. More the 50s”, referring to oil prices per barrel.  While global oil demand is growing, she said, “there’s more oil supply than demand,” along with new non-oil energy.  Weiss was celebrating BP’s ability to stabilize production at the aging Prudhoe Bay field which it operates.  Average daily production has exceeded 280,000 barrels since 2015, accomplished through operating efficiencies, new technology and extra efforts to wrest new oil from the 40-year-old field, she said in her speech.

The 2018 Detroit Auto Show: Are U.S. Carmakers Still Stuck in the Past?

20 Jan 2018   Transportation, USA
The 2018 Detroit Auto Show: Are U.S. Carmakers Still Stuck in the Past?

WHEN ARNOLD Schwarzenegger stepped into the lights at the Michigan Theater Sunday night—the surprise guest at the unveiling of Mercedes-Benz’s redesigned G-Wagen SUV before the 2018 North American International Auto Show—it was one slow-moving dinosaur celebrating another.  Originally designed as a military vehicle, the G-Wagen (for Gelande meaning “cross-country”) is the handiwork of trusted subcontractor Magna Steyr, based in Graz, Austria, just an Atlas-stone’s throw from Arnold’s birthplace in Thal. With heavy-duty body-on-frame construction, full-agro 4×4 drivetrain and styling like a stagecoach lockbox, the G-Wagen was and is engineered for extreme off-road ability.

How strange that this uber-tough truck should become the servant of pampered, prideful wealth, beloved by inked-up louts and dead-eyed daddy’s girls from South Beach to Singapore. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Germany’s Hummer. The G-Wagen is fairly representative of Daimler’s transatlantic duality: In Europe, post-Paris accord and post-Dieselgate scandal, German carmakers are under intense social and political pressure to clean up their acts. Messaging from Daimler to European audiences stresses responsibility, sustainability and a bright future of vehicle electrification.

But in the United States, where gasoline is cheap and climate change is a Chinese hoax, Mercedes-Benz isn’t afraid to swagger, and thus the Arnold. The new G 550 is huge—2.1 inches longer and 4.8 inches wider than the outgoing version—and rocks a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with a conveniently unavailable EPA mileage. The fact is Daimler desperately needs the filthy, frothy profits from North America to invest in next-generation propulsion. So I guess that’s OK.

CROWD PLEASERS GAC’s latest concept hints at an electric future.
CROWD PLEASERS GAC’s latest concept hints at an electric future. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Like many things in the Age of Trump, the 2018 Detroit show felt a bit surreal. The auto industry is, after all, a global business, and at the moment roughly two-thirds of the globe is pulling in one direction while the U.S. is pulling in another. In Europe, auto makers face spiralling vehicle-emissions standards and much tougher, real-world testing. In China—the world’s largest car market with about 29 million light vehicles sold in 2017—the government has announced a strategic pivot toward vehicle electrification, culminating in an effective ban on internal-combustion vehicles by 2040. By contrast, the Trump administration wants to walk back the U.S. commitment to the Paris climate agreement. Here fuel economy targets aren’t going up; they are dumbing down. The Trump administration effectively suspended, pending review, Obama-era targets for Corporate Average Fuel Economy covering years 2021 to 2025. The automakers complained the targets were unrealistic.

Only 1/3 Of Oil Patch Jobs To Return To Canada After Downturn Ends

20 Jan 2018   Canada

Despite higher oil prices, only one-third of the Canadian oil patch jobs lost since 2015 are expected to return due to rapid technical innovation during the past three years of low oil prices, according to a new report by E&P Mag.  “The good news is that Alberta oil and gas companies are figuring out how to prosper and thrive in a low-price environment. The bad news is that the strategies that are allowing them to do that involve using fewer people and creating fewer jobs,” Gil McGowan, head of the Alberta Federation of Labour and co-chair of the Alberta Government’s Energy Diversification Advisory Committee, told the industry publication. “They’re finding new ways to squeeze out what managers call ‘efficiencies’ but for working people, it means fewer jobs.”  Digital technologies, automation, and outsourcing are the biggest ways companies are developing their operations to reduce the size of their workforce and cut costs. Still, Canada is slower than its peers in automating jobs, says Mark Salkeld, CEO of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada.  “Some of this technology sounds like future-think, maybe too much for the oil patch to digest at this point in time. We are famously known for taking our time to adopt and adapt but we do eventually,” he said.

Florida waters remain in Trump’s five-year oil, gas leasing plan, for now: BOEM

20 Jan 2018   Offshore, USA

Federal waters off Florida’s coast remain in the Trump administration’s draft proposed offshore oil and gas leasing plan, the acting head of the agency that developed the plan said Friday. Florida waters “are still part of the analysis until [Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke] gives us an official decision otherwise,” Walter Cruickshank, the acting director of the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, told a House Natural Resources subcommittee. Following a meeting with Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, on January 9, Zinke announced that he was “removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms,” in regards to the draft proposed program his agency released the week before. That proposed plan called for 47 sales in federal waters, including 12 sales in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, three in the South Atlantic and one in the Straits of Florida, over a five-year period. Zinke, who announced his […]

Cheniere’s Sabine Pass terminal sees strong winter LNG exports

20 Jan 2018   exports, USA

US LNG exports are stronger so far this winter compared with a year ago, thanks to global demand and two more production trains in use at Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana, Platts Analytics’ Bentek Energy data showed. The figures show the importance of US supplies in meeting peak demand, not only domestically but also in other countries that rely on imports. A handful of other US export terminals are under construction, while a dozen more have been proposed. Dominion Energy’s Cove Point terminal in Maryland has yet to ship its first export cargo. With the ramp up of Train 3, and the onset of Train 4, feedgas volumes to Sabine Pass have nearly doubled compared with this time a year ago. Over the course of the winter season thus far, feedgas volumes have averaged 2.9 Bcf/d, getting as high as 3.3 Bcf/d, which represents full utilization of […]

Powder River Basin coal production up 7.2% in 2017: MSHA

20 Jan 2018   Coal, USA

Powder River Basin coal production totaled 334.4 million st in 2017, up 7.2% from 2016, according to recently posted US Mine Safety and Health Administration data. Production in 2016 declined dramatically, dropping more than 21% as cheap natural gas fomented a considerable amount of coal-to-gas switching. With higher gas prices in 2017, coal production increased, though still remains well below its peak of 490 million st in 2008. The PRB 8,800 Btu/lb mines — Cloud Peak Energy’s Antelope mine, Arch Coal’s Black Thunder mine and Peabody Energy’s North Antelope/Rochelle mine — produced 200.6 million st in 2017, up 5.3% from 2016. Production from PRB 8,400 Btu/lb mines totaled 106.6 million st, up 8.8% from 2016. The basin’s biggest mine remains Peabody’s North Antelope/Rochelle mine, which produced 101.6 million st, up 9.4% from 2016. The annual total was roughly 13.2% of all the coal mined in the US in 2017. […]

Oil little changed after record crude draw at U.S. hub

19 Jan 2018   Oil Supply, USA

Oil was little changed on Thursday, as prices eased early in the session, but were supported by a record drawdown of U.S. crude stockpiles at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub. The market remains wary that OPEC-led output cuts will trigger price hikes that will increase supply from the United States. Crude is just below its highest price since December 2014, supported by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and concern that unrest in producer nations such as Nigeria could further curb output. U.S. crude inventories fell 6.9 million barrels last week, compared with forecasts for a 3.5 million-barrel draw, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said. [EIA/S] Crude supplies at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub for U.S. crude futures fell 4.2 million barrels in the week, the largest draw since at least 2004. After falling the previous week due to cold […]

U.S. crude stocks drop, led by record outflow from Cushing hub: EIA

19 Jan 2018   Oil Supply, USA

U.S. crude oil stocks fell for a ninth straight week, led by a record drawdown at the U.S. storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, the Energy Information Administration said on Thursday. Crude inventories fell 6.9 million barrels in the week to Jan. 12, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 3.5 million barrels. Overall crude inventories have been steadily dwindling as demand remains strong and refineries run at a steady clip. Excluding the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, inventories are now sitting at 412.7 million barrels, the lowest level since February of 2015. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures fell 4.2 million barrels, the largest weekly draw for Cushing dating back to 2004 when records began, the EIA said. Last week, traders said market intelligence firm Genscape reported notable outflows from Cushing on the start-up of a new pipeline from that location […]

TransCanada says Keystone XL interest strong enough to proceed

19 Jan 2018   Canada, Pipelines

Pipeline company TransCanada said Thursday that commercial commitments for about 60 percent of the capacity for its Keystone XL pipeline is enough to proceed. The company said it concluded the open season for commercial commitments to fill the Keystone XL pipeline. With 500,000 barrels per day in firm commitments for the next 20 years, TransCanada said the proposed project was positioned to proceed. “Interest in the project remains strong and TransCanada will look to continue to secure additional long-term contracted volumes,” the company stated. The announcement on commercial commitments is unchanged from a third quarter update. The 20-year commitments represent about 60 percent of the total design capacity. Referencing long-standing concerns about the Sandhills region in […]

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending January 12, 2018

19 Jan 2018   Oil Supply, USA

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 16.9 million barrels per day during the week ending January 12, 2018, 448,000 barrels per day less than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 93.0% of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging over 9.7 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 5.1 million barrels per day. U.S. crude oil imports averaged about 8.0 million barrels per day last week, up by 292,000 barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports averaged 7.9 million barrels per day, 3.7% less than the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 396,000 barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 147,000 barrels per day last week. U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) […]

API’s Jack Gerard to Step Down

19 Jan 2018   USA

After serving for 10 years as president and CEO of the API, Jack Gerard is calling it quits. Jack Gerard will step down as president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), a national trade association which represents all aspects of the oil and natural gas industry, in August 2018. Gerard, who spent 10 years at the helm, will continue in his role and assist in the search for a new CEO until his contract expires in August. During his time as CEO, API saw its membership grow by almost 50 percent. “Serving the oil and natural gas industry during this historic time, when an American energy renaissance has made the U.S. the world’s leading producer and refiner of oil and natural gas, has been among the most fulfilling professional experiences of my career,” Gerard said. “I’m ready for my next challenge and want to ensure that API […]

IEA Sees ‘Explosive’ Growth in U.S. Oil Output As Prices Rally

19 Jan 2018   Oil Supply, USA

Gains in U.S., Canada will outweigh steep drop in Venezuela Venezuela had biggest unplanned production decline in 2017 U.S. oil output is set for “explosive” growth this year as prices rally, potentially offsetting a further collapse in Venezuela’s production, the International Energy Agency said. The agency is joining a chorus of voices from Goldman Sachs group Inc. and OPEC’s own analysts in warning of a surge in U.S. production as oil hits three-year highs. Output cuts led by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries have been successful in eroding bloated stockpiles, and yet they risk becoming a victim of their own success . Heady Days Non-OPEC oil output growth in 2018 is comparable with the best years of U.S. shale boom -1-1011223320122013201420152016201720183m b/d Source: International Energy Agency The IEA boosted its forecasts for non-OPEC supply growth this year by 100,000 barrels to 1.7 million barrels a day compared to […]

U.S. Oil Output Expected to Surpass Saudi Arabia, Rivaling Russia for Top Spot

19 Jan 2018   Oil Supply, USA

Surging U.S. crude oil production this year is expected to surpass output in Saudi Arabia and rival that of Russia, the world’s two largest oil producers, the International Energy Agency said Friday. Boosted by a resurgent shale industry, U.S. crude production will likely climb above 10 million barrels a day in 2018, an all-time high not seen since 1970, the agency said in its closely watched monthly oil market report. The IEA raised its outlook for U.S. crude supply this year by 260,000 barrels a day, to a record 10.4 million barrels a day, largely a result of the recent rally in crude prices. “The stage was set for a strong expansion last year when non-OPEC supply, […]

ISO-New England: Maintaining reliability will become challenging as gas dependence rises

19 Jan 2018   USA

A new report from the ISO New England concludes the region’s dependence on natural gas could create serious problems in the event of a fuel shortage; as more gas-fired power plants come online the situation is likely to become more apparent. The study considered almost two dozen scenarios that included winter-long outages at four major energy facilities in the region and several other variables. The report concludes all but four scenarios result in fuel shortages requiring rolling blackouts. The results show that “trends affecting New England’s power system may intensify the region’s fuel-security risk,” the ISO concluded. Dive Insight: A recent coal snap that left the East Coast struggling with bitter temperatures illustrates much of the issue detailed in New England’s new report. In the northern United States, generators were forced to turn to coal and fuel oil to maintain supply, though regional grid operators were able […]

U.S. oil production sets new record, setting stage for what Trump calls ‘global dominance’

18 Jan 2018   Oil Supply, USA

Funny thing about our president and the whole “so much winning” thing. We may very well be doing all the winning he promised, but it won’t seem like it to you because all you hear about is shitholes and Russia and whatever other trivia is dominating the headlines that day. Supposedly CNN had nearly 200 mentions of the shithole thing yesterday. Meanwhile, our global energy dominance is developing in such stunning fashion they can’t deny it even in Reuterville : The economic and political impacts of soaring U.S. output are breathtaking, cutting the nation’s oil imports by a fifth over a decade, providing high-paying jobs in rural communities and lowering consumer prices for domestic gasoline by 37 percent from a 2008 peak. Fears of dire energy shortages that gripped the country in the 1970s have been replaced […]

U.S. losing renewable race to China, but winning in oil

18 Jan 2018   China, USA

The United States is losing the renewable energy race to China but will be the undisputed leader for oil and gas in the coming years, the head of the IEA said. The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects total U.S. oil production to set an all-time record this year at 10 million barrels per day. About half of the new utility-scale power on the U.S. grid last year came from renewables and most of that was in the fourth quarter. Fatih Birol , the head of the International Energy Agency, told the U.S. Senate the annual rate of growth for U.S. renewables could slow from 3.5 percent […]

U.S. oil industry about to smash through a record few thought possible, and the impact is breathtaking

18 Jan 2018   USA

The U.S. government forecasts that the nation’s production will climb to 11 million barrels a day by late 2019, a level that would rival Russia, the world’s top producer.  Surging shale production is poised to push U.S. oil output to more than 10 million barrels per day — toppling a record set in 1970 and crossing a threshold few could have imagined even a decade ago. And this new record, expected within days, likely won’t last long. The U.S. government forecasts that the nation’s production will climb to 11 million barrels a day by late 2019, a level that would rival Russia, the world’s top producer. The economic and political impacts of soaring U.S. output are breathtaking, cutting the nation’s oil imports by a fifth over a decade, providing high-paying jobs in rural communities and lowering consumer prices for domestic gasoline by 37 percent from a […]

U.S. Gulf Coast refineries restart after unusual cold snap

18 Jan 2018   USA

Several major U.S. Gulf Coast refineries were restarting operations on Wednesday as temperatures warmed following record lows across the region overnight, freezing instrumentation and snapping power lines, according to refining sources. The cold weather affected operations at Motiva Enterprises’ [MOTIV.UL] 603,000 barrel per day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas, refinery, the nation’s largest, as well as Valero Energy’s refinery in the same city. Valero was returning to normal operations at its 335,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Port Arthur refinery after malfunctions overnight because of cold weather, upsetting instrumentation that regulates the production unit operations, said sources familiar with plant operations. The company did not respond to requests for comment. Motiva was able to keep units in operation as temperatures fell to 19 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 7.2 Celsius), freezing instrumentation and triggering flaring early on Wednesday on the plant’s largest crude distillation unit, which, along with two similar units, does the […]

Cheap gasoline in the winter isn’t likely in 2018

18 Jan 2018   Prices, USA

Demand strains and a steady surge higher for oil prices means a typical winter of lower U.S. retail gasoline prices isn’t in store this year, analyses show. Motor club AAA reports a national average retail price of $2.53 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the United States, up slightly from Tuesday and 10 cents per gallon higher than one month ago. Two years ago, the average retail price for January was $2.05 and that dropped to $1.87 by February. Crude oil prices opened 2018 with a record-setting streak, with the price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, topping $70 per barrel for the first time in four years earlier this week. Higher […]

Pipeline Builders Try New Growth Strategy: Bigger Pipes

18 Jan 2018   Pipelines, USA

An effort by Energy Transfer Partners LP to expand its Mariner East 2 pipeline ran into local resistance, and Pennsylvania authorities halted construction earlier this month. Some of North America’s biggest new pipeline projects are already in the ground. As environmentalists and local activists make it extraordinarily difficult to build new oil and gas lines, energy companies are working around the opposition by supersizing old pipes that already crisscross parts of the continent. Executives at some of the biggest pipeline operators in the U.S. and Canada, including Enbridge Inc. ENB 0.08% and Kinder Morgan Inc., KMI 0.93% say they pivoted to the strategy as plans for new pipelines came under attack. For decades, new pipeline projects rarely drew attention, much less ire. “We used to just show up with a map,” said Al Monaco, president and chief executive of Enbridge. “Now we engage with the local communities and indigenous […]

API Reports Seventh Large Crude Draw In Seven Weeks

18 Jan 2018   Oil Supply, USA

The American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a large draw of 5.121 million barrels of United States crude oil inventories for the week ending January 12, marking seven large draws in seven weeks, according to the API data. Analysts had expected a drawdown of 3.588 million barrels in crude oil inventories. Last week, the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a huge draw of 11.19 million barrels of crude oil, along with an increase in gasoline inventories of 4.338 million barrels. This week, the API is reporting another, although smaller, build in gasoline inventories of 1.782 million barrels for the week ending January 12. Analysts had expected a larger 3.596-million-barrel build . WTI and Brent fell from their three-year highs on Tuesday, a day before the data, on the expectation that crude oil inventories would decline yet another week. Oil prices had remained mostly unchanged on Wednesday, with WTI trading slightly […]

EIA: Shale Oil Output To Rise By 1.8 Million Bpd Through Q1 2019

18 Jan 2018   Oil Supply, USA

American crude oil output is set to rise by 1.8 million barrels per day from the nation’s largest shale producing areas over the next year, according to new forecasts by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Just next month, national output will climb up 111,000 bpd. The Drilling Productivity Report, which tracks production from the seven most prolific basins in the US, also said production in January should touch 6.438 million barrels per day, which is 24,000 bpd higher than December levels. The 1.8 million-jump equals the volume of production cuts sustained by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and several allied nations, including Russia, who have agreed to contribute to the global market rebalancing plan. So far, prices have risen steadily through 2017 after a year of indecision in 2016, but the international plan is set to expire in December 2018, with members conducting an official review of […]

Gasoline in the US Still a Good Deal

18 Jan 2018   Prices, USA

Average gasoline price in US is still low compared to other OECD countries. Although it doesn’t expect gasoline prices to set any records in 2018, GasBuddy predicts that the U.S. motorists will pay more to tank up for the second consecutive year. In its 2018 Fuel Price Outlook, the crowdsourced smartphone app forecast a yearly national average gasoline price of $2.57 per gallon – a 19-cent increase from last year and the highest price since 2014. Why does GasBuddy expect U.S. gasoline prices to go up again this year? “Ultimately, OPEC bears much of the responsibility for cutting oil production, leading oil inventories to begin 2018 nearly 50 million barrels lower than a year ago,” Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, said in a written statement announcing the price prediction. He added, however, that other drivers are at play. “Yet, understanding many factors, including OPEC, fuel taxes, the […]

New York City Will Divest Pension Funds from Fossil Fuel Companies

18 Jan 2018   USA

Today New York Mayor Bill De Blasio announced a goal to divest New York City’s pension funds from fossil fuel reserve owners within five years. This makes New York the first major American city to announce such a move. According to a statement, the city’s five pension funds have approximately $5 billion invested in over 190 fossil fuel companies. “New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major U.S. city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels,” said Mayor de Blasio. “At the same time, we’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits.” Mayor de Blasio explained how the city was “bringing the fight” when he also announced the city will be suing the five largest investor-owned fossil fuel companies — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, […]

Trump says solar tariff decision coming soon, stakes huge for industry

18 Jan 2018   Solar, USA

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would announce a decision soon on whether to slap tariffs on imported solar panels and quipped that when countries dump subsidized panels in the United States, “Everybody goes out of business.” The solar industry is anxiously awaiting the decision, which will have wide-reaching implications for the sector. Domestic panel producers opposed to cheap imports would benefit from a tariff. But installers that have relied on the lower-cost hardware for their recent breakneck growth would suffer. In an interview with Reuters, Trump declined to say how he would land on the case – which was triggered last year by a domestic manufacturer’s trade grievance – but complained about the effect of imports on U.S. panel makers. “You know, they dump ‘em – government-subsidized, lots of things happening – they dump the panels, then everybody goes out of business,” […]

U.S. crude exports expected to strengthen in 2018 amid robust demand

18 Jan 2018   exports, USA

U.S. crude exports should jump this year, driven by robust demand from customers in Europe and Asia, analysts and traders said on Wednesday at an energy conference in Houston. Exports could reach 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) this year, up about 45 percent over last year, on rising refining and petrochemical demand for U.S. light sweet crudes, according to consultancy Energy Aspects. “The second half of the year is when (oil) production growth overwhelms,” said Amrita Sen, co-founder and chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects. “Gulf Coast exports will be strong,” she said in remarks at the Argus Americas Crude Summit. Greater integration between refining and petrochemical operations is one driver of demand for the nation’s oil, she said. Another is specification changes in refined fuels, such as the International Maritime Organization’s sulfur reduction mandate for marine fuels, according to Sen. “We are going to […]

Scott Pruitt Aims to Accelerate His Efforts to Remake the EPA

18 Jan 2018   USA

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt plans to use his second year on the job to accelerate efforts to remake the agency, saying he wants to speed its permitting processes and transform a culture he says is bureaucratic.  In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Pruitt outlined the changes he is looking to make in year two: repealing and rewriting Obama-era rules for power plant emissions, speeding up the EPA’s permit review process, implementing weekly performance assessments across the agency and fostering a public debate about climate change.

Mr. Pruitt has long questioned the scientific consensus that human activities are a significant factor in rising global temperatures and severe weather, and pose a potential existential threat to life on Earth in decades to come.  Discussing his plans for the year, Mr. Pruitt emphasized the importance of moving quickly. “There’s tremendous opportunity to show really significant results to the American people in a really short time frame,” Mr. Pruitt said.

In his first year on the job, the former Oklahoma attorney general swiftly repealed several of former President Barack Obama’s signature policies and encouraged President Donald Trump to pursue a withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Mr. Trump announced his intention to exit from the agreement in June.  Mr. Pruitt has memorialized the moment in his office with a framed photo of the two of them in the Rose Garden and the president’s autograph on Mr. Pruitt’s prepared remarks, “Scott—Great Job!”  Going forward, Mr. Pruitt wants to use metrics to measure the weekly performance of every EPA office and wants final permit decisions completed within six months. He already has a multicolored pyramid diagram outlining his plan to streamline the agency’s bureaucracy and organizational workflow.

US car groups issue warnings over outlook in 2018

17 Jan 2018   Transportation, USA

The two largest US car companies offered cautious predictions for 2018 as Ford forecast sweeping cost cuts and General Motors said it expected stalled profit growth. The warnings come after years of surging global sales and rising profitability for the industry. Ford is targeting savings in “every part” of its business in order to compete with rivals, while GM said profits would be flat in 2018 due to a deteriorating US market and pressure on car prices. Car sales in the US, a key profit driver for the industry, are expected to fall this year after reaching 17.2m in 2017, while auto companies are facing increased investment requirements to develop electric and self-driving vehicles. During the Detroit auto show, GM said it would spend $1bn this year developing its self-driving systems, up from $600m last year, while Ford pledged to spend $11bn on its electrified vehicles by 2022. I’m not satisfied with where our automotive business is, we have to improve our fitness and our cash flow and profitability Jim Farley Jim Farley, Ford’s global markets president, said the company was also targeting cost savings in “every part” of its business.

Ahead Of The Pack: What Sets Energy Innovators Apart?

17 Jan 2018   USA

We can visualize how the world will evolve by analyzing GDP and population growth patterns, environmental challenges, trend preferences, global demand/supply, structure changes within and across the industries, technological advancements, the Paris Climate Accord, etc. Here in 2018, attempting to perceive how the world will be in 2030 and beyond isn’t an easy task, but if we consider the above and some other geopolitical, socio-economic, cultural and wild card factors, we can somewhat predict how they will affect our businesses or competiveness. Perception about the future varies from person to person depending on their educational background, experience, knowledge and ability to see what’s behind the thick forest. For example, some of us believe that beyond 2030, structural changes in the auto and power industries will cause a diminishing role of fossil fuels (particularly oil and coal) and an increase in renewables and natural gas. This perception is based on […]

Natural gas prices, production, and exports increased from 2016 to 2017

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Thomson Reuters In 2017, natural gas spot prices at the national benchmark Henry Hub in Louisiana averaged $3.01 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), about 50 cents per MMBtu higher than in 2016. The higher prices in 2017 contributed to less natural gas consumption for power generation . Increased domestic production was offset by increased exports of natural gas by pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Natural Gas Intelligence Overall, natural gas prices at key regional trading hubs were less volatile in 2017 than in previous years, as pipelines that came online throughout the year eased some infrastructure constraints that affect regional prices. In the Northeast, which tends to have large price spikes during periods of cold weather, new pipeline capacity , along with warmer winter weather, helped to moderate price volatility. However, record […]

WCS-WTI Spread Narrows As Exports-By-Rail Pick Up

17 Jan 2018   Canada, Prices

Volume constraints on the Keystone pipeline system levied by U.S. regulators have widened the spread between Western Canadian Select crude prices and benchmark American crude prices , but the steep discount is set to moderate, according to emerging reports . Growing volumes from Alberta’s oil sands have had trouble getting to U.S. markets since federal regulators ordered TransCanada to curtail the line’s capacity by 20 percent after a spill in South Dakota in November. So while WTI climbed, oil prices from Alberta’s oil sands fell. Crude oil by rail shipments are expected to pick up in Canada, which although costlier, allow the shipper greater flexibility in determining shipment locations that will fetch the best price for the oil. Western Canada Select (WCS) —the benchmark that tracks heavy oil in Canada—has traded an average of 11 percent down in 2018, compared to Q4 2017. Canada’s oil by rail exports, according […]

Russia will not support U.S. bid to change Iran nuclear deal: Lavrov

16 Jan 2018   Iran, Russia, USA

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday Moscow will not support attempts by Washington to modify the Iran nuclear deal. Lavrov spoke days after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would waive nuclear sanctions against Iran for the last time to give Washington and its European allies a chance to fix the “terrible flaws” of the 2015 nuclear deal. “We will not support what the United States is trying to do, changing the wording of the agreement, incorporating things that will be absolutely unacceptable for Iran,” Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow. Russia’s top diplomat, who stressed that Russia will work to preserve the existing Iran nuclear deal, also warned that the agreement’s collapse could be detrimental to dialogue with North Korea. “If the deal is put aside and Iran is told, ‘you keep up with your obligations or we will impose sanctions again’, […]

Utility Jobs Lost as New Power Plants Need Fewer Workers

16 Jan 2018   USA

It generally takes five times as many coal mining and power plant workers to generate a megawatt hour of electricity as wind-farm operators, according to BW Research Partnership, an economic and workforce consultancy. As coal and nuclear power plants around the U.S. close due to competitive pressures, the number of people employed in making electricity is shrinking. Older power plants are being retired at an unprecedented pace as power producers wage a fierce fight for market share . They are being supplanted by newer power plants fired by natural gas, as well as wind and solar farms, which often are simpler to operate and require fewer workers. The Center for Energy Workforce Development, a group backed by six major utility industry groups, estimates that total direct utility employment has fallen to 505,000 from 550,000 since 2006. That is eroding a stable source of well-paying jobs, especially in rural areas, […]

U.S. oil industry set to break record, upend global trade

16 Jan 2018   Oil Supply, USA

 Surging shale production is poised to push U.S. oil output to more than 10 million barrels per day – toppling a record set in 1970 and crossing a threshold few could have imagined even a decade ago. And this new record, expected within days, likely won’t last long. The U.S. government forecasts that the nation’s production will climb to 11 million barrels a day by late 2019, a level that would rival Russia, the world’s top producer. The economic and political impacts of soaring U.S. output are breathtaking, cutting the nation’s oil imports by a fifth over a decade, providing high-paying jobs in rural communities and lowering consumer prices for domestic gasoline by 37 percent from a 2008 peak. Fears of dire energy shortages that gripped the country in the 1970s have been replaced by a presidential policy of global “energy dominance.” “It has had incredibly […]

Major automakers urge Trump administration: don’t ditch NAFTA

16 Jan 2018   USA

Global automakers on Monday urged the Trump administration not to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement and expressed hope the United States, Canada and Mexico can successfully conclude a modernized and improved trade pact. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne, who announced last week plans to shift heavy pickup truck production from Mexico to Michigan by 2020, said he hoped the Trump administration would “retune” some of its trade talk demands. Trump has threatened to withdraw from NAFTA, which is heavily utilized by automakers that have production and supply chains spread across the three countries. Marchionne, speaking at a news conference at the Detroit auto show, said FCA’s truck production shift in part “goes a long way I think in addressing some of President Trump’s concerns about the dislocation of production capacity out of the United States.” That decision reduces the risk […]

U.S. ultimatum on nuclear deal, new sanctions draw Iran threat

15 Jan 2018   Iran, USA

Iran said on Saturday it would retaliate against new sanctions imposed by the United States after President Donald Trump set an ultimatum to fix “disastrous flaws” in a deal curbing Tehran’s nuclear program. Trump said on Friday he would waive nuclear sanctions on Iran for the last time to give the United States and European allies a final chance to amend the pact. Washington also imposed sanctions on the head of Iran’s judiciary and others. Russia – one of the parties to the Iran pact alongside the United States, China, France, Britain, Germany and the European Union – called Trump’s comments “extremely negative.” The ultimatum puts pressure on Europeans, key backers of the 2015 nuclear deal, to satisfy Trump, who wants the pact strengthened with a separate agreement within 120 days. While approving the waiver on U.S. sanctions related to the nuclear deal, Washington announced other […]

Should the United States Attack Venezuela?

15 Jan 2018   USA, Venezuela

I was interviewing participants at a 2003 antigovernment protest in Caracas, Venezuela when a woman approached me and put a United States-Venezuela crossed-flag “friendship pin” on my lapel. She then took a step back and, only half in jest, shook her finger at me, demanding to know why the United States had not invaded Venezuela to get rid of President Hugo Chávez as it had done with Manuel Noriega in Panama in 1989. Indeed, the idea that the United States or some other foreign military force should come in and save Venezuela has been openly discussed since Mr. Chávez took power in 1999. But it has gained momentum in recent months as the government of President Nicolás Maduro has consolidated control and the toll of his dictatorial policies on average Venezuelans has become ever worse. After […]

Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Survives, but G.M. and Tesla Aren’t Cheering

15 Jan 2018   Electric Cars, USA

A Tesla charging station in Mountain View, Calif. The company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, has sharply criticized the government’s restriction on the electric vehicle tax credit, which begins to phase out after a company sells 200,000 electric vehicles. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan called electric vehicle tax credits “money wasted on losers.” The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, said he’d “do away” with renewable energy subsidies . During the presidential election campaign, Donald J. Trump disparaged renewable energy as “very, very expensive” and “not working on a large scale.” He said a wind farm in California looked like a “junk yard” and claimed wind power killed birds in vast numbers. As president, he pulled the United States out of the Paris climate change accord. So it’s no wonder that hardly anyone expected renewable energy subsidies to survive Republican tax reform. In the legislation the House of […]