Posts tagged “energy”
In last month’s Short Term Energy Outlook (STEO), the Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected that it now expects record U.S. gasoline consumption this year:
Motor gasoline consumption is forecast to increase by 130,000 b/d (1.5%) to 9.29 million b/d in 2016, which would make it the highest annual average gasoline consumption on record, beating the previous record set in 2007 by 0.1%. The increase in gasoline consumption reflects a forecast 2.5% increase in highway travel (because of employment growth and lower retail gasoline prices) that is partially offset by increases in vehicle fleet fuel economy.
This projected increase follows several years of lower gasoline demand that resulted from persistently rising gasoline prices over the past decade. From 2002 to 2012 the average retail price of gasoline rose nearly every year, from an annual average of $1.39/gal in 2002 to $3.68/gal in 2012. Consumers responded to these higher prices in multiple ways, which cumulatively led to falling gasoline demand. Some even suggested that U.S. gasoline demand had permanently peaked, as a result of more fuel efficient vehicles and increasing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). We can now say those predictions were premature. CONTINUE»
Jaunt Through West Texas Reveals Oil’s Revival
It was a 102 degree-hot, mid-July, typical summer day travelling on the road to West Texas; a nine-hour, high-speed journey made with numerous gasoline pit stops. Passing by Midland-Odessa, the commercial hub of the Permian Basin, was a stretch of energy mecca some 20 miles or more, filled to the brim on either side with oilfield services firms — transmission gear, pump equipment, fracking services, and other oil and gas-related businesses. Pumpjacks, also known as nodding donkeys, scattered across swathes of the expansive oilfields. Signs with “Home for Your Workforce” in Pecos and Odessa cropped up a couple of times. Workers, and their firms, are settling in for a boom which could last for many years to come, like the second boomlet in the 1970s and early ’80s that followed the Middle East oil crisis. Bust followed boom in Texas to the mid-1990s.
The scale of energy production in the Permian Basin looks mammoth. The Permian Basin produced more than 270 million barrels of oil in 2010, over 280 million barrels in 2011, and 312 million in 2012. In percentages, production increased 10% in 2011 and 35% in 2012. Texas’ oil production represents about 25% of the U.S. oil production, with the Permian housing 57% of Texas’ oil production, according to the Texas Railroad Commission.
Where there are higher prices or margins possible to justify accessible resources, production will follow. The ability to recover more oil, thanks to technological advances, which include multi-stage hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling and carbon dioxide injection, has reversed the declining U.S. production trend of 20-years prior.
When I recently solicited feedback for topics to cover for my upcoming book, several people requested that I discuss the difference between energy and power. Just two weeks ago Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., who is on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, admitted that he’s “not educated enough to know the difference between the terms … energy and power.” You would certainly expect that someone who influences legislation over science and technology would know the difference, but it is true that people commonly get confused between the two.
So this weekend I wrote up a sidebar for Power Plays discussing the differences, which I share below. If you believe that a point could be clearer, or if anything about my explanation is confusing, I would be happy to hear reader feedback.
Energy, Power, and Units of Measurement
There are a number of potentially confusing units of measurement for energy and power. The first thing to understand, however, is the difference between energy and power. Technically speaking, energy refers to the capacity of a system to do work. In this definition, “a system” could be a gallon of gasoline that contains 115,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs) – a unit of energy. In addition to the BTU, some other units of energy are the joule (J), the calorie (cal), and the watt hour (Wh). Multiples of these units have abbreviations like kilo (one thousand) or mega (one million), so one kilowatt hour (kWh) is one thousand watt hours. Each of these units can be converted into the other. One BTU is equal to 1,055 joules, 252 calories, or 0.29 watt hours.
A Plan to Phase Out “Dirty” Energy After the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, someone said to me “We have to stop all offshore drilling.” My response was that I could get behind that idea, but I wanted to know what sacrifices the person was willing to make. That turned out to be the end of the conversation, because usually the people campaigning against these sorts of things believe that the consequences will be all good (no more oil spills) with no real downside (like less energy available). I can tell you with absolute certainty that we can live with no offshore drilling, but I can also tell you that the price of your fuel would be… Continue»