Posts tagged “Alaska”
The Ban on Crude Exports
One of the 2014 predictions that I made back in January was “The crude oil export ban will not be lifted in 2014.” The present ban on US crude oil exports dates to the The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) of 1975. The act effectively bans crude oil exports to all countries except Canada. The export of refined products, such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel is allowed.
But given that the US is still a net importer of crude oil to the tune of ~5 million barrels per day (bpd), on the surface it seems silly to entertain the notion of exporting crude oil. The problem essentially comes down to the location of the crude being produced, and the configuration and location of US refineries. Prior to the shale oil boom, crudes processed by refiners had been getting heavier and more sour (i.e., contained more sulfur). As a result, refiners had invested heavily in equipment that could process these types of crudes.
Enter the shale oil boom, which has been producing ever-greater volumes of light, sweet crude since 2008. There is a limit to how much of this crude can be processed by refineries that have been configured to process heavy, sour crudes, and as a result some areas of the country are oversupplied with lighter oil. This in turn has led to discounts — sometimes very large — of light, sweet crudes relative to heavier crudes that are internationally traded. CONTINUE»
One of the most contentious domestic political issues in the debate between energy development and environmental policy for over 20 years has been how to develop America’s energy resources in the Arctic. As Shell makes preparations to send offshore drilling rigs into the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas north of Alaska, I thought it would be important to walk through the history of energy exploration in Alaska.
Two weeks ago, I spoke as a part of a lecture series by the Massachusetts-based Manomet Center about energy development and ecosystems in the Arctic. Manomet is a conservation sciences organization that was founded to study migratory shorebirds; I was paired in the lecture with Stephen Brown, one of Manomet’s foremost experts on Alaskan shorebirds. The event was very interesting because it allowed a frank and open discussion of the threats and opportunities in the Arctic. The discussion below is adapted from my presentation.
The former vice presidential nominee has at long last admitted that global warming is a problem, but contends that an increase in drilling for natural gas can help curb its effects.
I said I wasn’t going to update until Wednesday, but have a little free time this morning. Imagine my surprise to read this headline today: Senate Democrats offer deal to break energy bill standstill Turns out they are proposing the same deal that I proposed in my essay from last week on coming to a compromise on the drilling question: WASHINGTON (CNN) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid surprised Republicans on Monday by offering them a chance to vote this week on four GOP-backed amendments to an energy bill, including one that would expand offshore oil drilling. The possible breakthrough comes days before Congress recesses for August and lawmakers return home to face constituents anxious for relief at fuel pumps…. Continue»
I have given a lot of thought to the issue of opening up new areas for drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). My position has always been to leave that oil in place for a very rainy day. I wanted to see major conservation efforts in place before we considered tapping that oil. Opening those areas when oil was $20 a barrel would have meant that much of it would have been used frivolously. Now that oil is over $100 – and in my opinion will be much higher in 5 or 10 years (T. Boone Pickens predicts $300/bbl in 10 years) – we will have tightened our belts a good… Continue»
For months now – off and on – I have been trying to wrap my head around the controversy over the proposed gas pipeline for Alaska. As a shareholder and former employee of ConocoPhillips – one of the involved parties – I have a vested interest. However, that’s also one of the reasons I haven’t written about this before, as I wanted to better understand the issue before writing about it. I saw that the headline story in yesterday’s Drumbeat at The Oil Drum was a story from Newsweek dealing with the controversy, and that prompted me to go ahead and write something: Pipe Dreams I am going to post some excerpts from the story in an attempt to summarize… Continue»