For the past several years, at year end I rank what I felt were the the major energy stories of the year. 2012 lacked a blockbuster energy story like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 or the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011, so there was no clear #1 in my mind. But, I thought I would change things up a bit and just let readers vote. So below I have summarized 15 of the major energy stories of the year in no particular order. Please vote for up to 5 stories, and I will report the Top 10 vote getters on December 31. CONTINUE»
In my list of Top 10 Energy Related Stories of 2011, I made five predictions for 2012. Those predictions were:
- President Obama will easily win reelection, which means that energy policies will likely continue along the current trajectory.
- The Keystone Pipeline project will be approved (although that decision may still slide into 2013).
- Natural gas prices will remain low, averaging below $5/MMBTU for the year.
- Oil prices — both West Texas Intermediate and Brent — will average above $100/barrel in 2012.
- We will look back on the fact that Newt Gingrich was once the leading Republican contender for president and have a good laugh about it.
I never doubted for a second that Obama would win reelection, for reasons I have discussed on a number of occasions. The reason really boiled down to the weakness in the Republican field. Every contender had major baggage that I felt would keep some of the base from voting for that candidate. I believe this is indeed what happened, so the major swing states all went Obama’s way. Newt Gingrich is a prime example of the problem with the Republican field. Indeed, with all of his baggage, the fact that he led the pack for the nomination when I made these predictions boggles the mind.
Petrobras: A Case Where ‘Fossil Fuel Subsidies’ are Bad for an Oil Company
When most people hear the phrase “fossil fuel subsidies” it conjures up images of governments giving their hard-earned tax dollars to already highly profitable oil companies. That’s what they have been conditioned to think by certain activists and politicians, and quite naturally this image evokes outrage.
On more than one occasion, I have pointed out that the vast majority of these so-called fossil fuel subsidies are really governments keeping fuel prices artificially low for consumers. This is a subsidy because consumers aren’t paying the true price of the fossil fuel, and the amount of the subsidy is the difference between what consumers pay and the market price. In most cases, the primary beneficiary of the subsidy is the consumer, and the secondary beneficiary is the fossil fuel company who gets to sell more product than they otherwise might.
I, along with my editor Sam Avro, recently conducted a broad-ranging interview with John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil and currently the head of Citizens for Affordable Energy, a non-profit group whose aim is to promote sound U.S. energy security solutions for the nation. Previous interviews with Mr. Hofmeister were:
In the current and final installment, he discusses the technical feasibility of producing oil from kerogen.
Shale Oil and Oil Shale
Although the oil coming from the Bakken Shale Formation in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas is commonly referred to as shale oil, it is properly called “tight oil.” The term shale oil has been used historically to refer to oil that is produced from kerogen, but “shale oil” is often improperly used synonymously with the oil produced from tight oil formations.
I, along with my editor Sam Avro, recently conducted a broad-ranging interview with John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil and currently the head of Citizens for Affordable Energy, a non-profit group whose aim is to promote sound U.S. energy security solutions for the nation. Previous interview with Mr. Hofmeister were:
In the current installment, he outlines his ideas for what would constitute a sound plan of attack on climate change.
Global Warming Debate is Settled — With a Twist
I began by asking Mr. Hofmeister whether he agreed that the debate on global warming is over. He responded that he is not a scientist or climatologist, but said that once a critical mass of public officials has determined that something is a problem, then the debate is effectively settled. He also agrees that humans create significant waste, and that if this waste is cleaned up, that would address the climate change issue:
In last week’s Energy Trends Insider (ETI) I explained The Obama (Non)-Impact on Oil & Gas Companies. In addition to my article, Andrew Holland discussed How the Obama Administration Will Deal With Natural Gas Exports and Elias Hinckley concluded the issue with Increasing Talk of Climate Change and Carbon Taxes Impacts Energy Industry. As we have done previously, we would like to share a story from ETI with regular readers of this column. Interested readers can find more information on the newsletter and subscribe for free at Energy Trends Insider.
The Obama (Non)-Impact on Oil & Gas Companies
Following President Obama’s reelection, a number of fossil fuel stocks sold off based on the belief that Obama’s policies would prove harmful to the fossil fuel industry. But will the President manage to push through tough new regulations that raise the cost of production for fossil fuel companies? CONTINUE»
Can Oil Supplies Grow Fast Enough to Keep Prices in Check?
I, along with my editor Sam Avro, recently conducted a broad-ranging interview with John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil and currently the head of Citizens for Affordable Energy, a non-profit group whose aim is to promote sound U.S. energy security solutions for the nation. In the first part of this interview Mr. Hofmeister spoke of A Difficult Decade Ahead For Oil Prices and Supplies. In the second, he set forth an Energy Plan for America. In the current installment, he discusses the events responsible for the explosion in the price of oil over the past decade.
Developing Demand and Depleting Supplies
I prefaced my question with my own view that the explosive growth in oil prices mostly boiled down to new demand outstripping new supplies, which resulted in loss of spare capacity. Some have suggested that the real culprit is a massive influx of financial players into the oil markets, so I was curious to get Mr. Hofmeister’s views on the factors behind the escalation in oil prices over the past decade. CONTINUE»
First thing, on this day after the U.S. presidential elections I would like to congratulate President Obama on his reelection. My top prediction for 2012 – made nearly a year ago and reiterated many times since — was that Obama would easily win reelection, primarily because all of the Republican contenders had baggage that was likely to keep some of the Republican base from voting. Therefore, I did not believe that the country was likely to see any major shift in energy policy, and the next four years will be similar to the past four years.
It has been a while since I hosted a guest post in my column here. I decided to host this one by Paul Stinson from North Hampton, New Hampshire because he offers up a thought-provoking concept that I have not encountered elsewhere. I am uncertain whether a proposal such as this could work, but I thought it was worth offering up to readers because it is really outside-the-box thinking. It has some similarities to my own proposals for incentivizing renewable energy production that would shift risks from the taxpayer into the private sector, and it is a detailed piece of work. CONTINUE»
When Hurricane Sandy was forecast to make landfall on the East Coast, I advised people to top off their automobiles with fuel. There were a number of reasons for that, and some people in New York and New Jersey are learning those reasons the hard way.
When a hurricane hits an area, it can damage refining infrastructure, fuel terminals, and service stations. Prolonged electrical outages can make fuel deliveries next to impossible, which has been the case around New Jersey since the hurricane hit. Any of these conditions can lead to fuel shortages. CBS News reports:
Gas is being rationed in parts of New York and New Jersey. The pumps are running on empty — and so is patience. According to the motor club AAA, 60 percent of the gas stations in New Jersey and 70 percent on New York’s Long Island are now closed.
One fuel buyer said, “This is crazy, it’s like post-apocalyptic scenarios, you know with this gas. It’s as important as food and water to people. It’s a dogfight out here.”