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Posts tagged “Keystone XL”

By Geoffrey Styles on Mar 20, 2014 with 19 responses

Environmental Groups Gear Up to Stop US LNG Exports

LNG As the Next Battle after Keystone

A collection of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and 350.org apparently just sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to require a Keystone-XL-style environmental review — presumably entailing similar delays — for the proposed Cove Point, Maryland liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal. Given the President’s “all of the above“ approach to energy and his recent remarks in support of wider natural gas use, the hyperbole-laden letter seems likelier to rev up the groups’ activist bases than to influence the administration’s policies.

Either way, its timing could hardly be coincidental, coming just as opinion leaders across the political spectrum have seized on LNG exports as a concrete strategy for countering Russian energy leverage over Europe in the aftermath of President Putin’s seizure of Crimea. If, as Robert Rapier and the Washington Post have suggested, the Keystone XL pipeline is the wrong battle for environmentalists, taking on LNG exports now is an even more misguided fight — at least on its merits.

Wrong on Science, Wrong on Scale

Referring to unspecified ”emerging and credible analysis”, the letter evokes the thoroughly discredited argument that shale gas, pejoratively referred to here as “fracked gas”, is as bad or worse for the environment as coal. In fact, in a similar letter sent to Mr. Obama one year ago, some of the same groups cited a 2007 paper in Environmental Science & Technology that clearly showed that, even when converted into LNG, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of natural gas in electricity generation are still significantly lower than those of coal, despite the extra emissions of the liquefaction and regasification processes. The current letter also implies that emissions from shale gas are higher than those for conventional gas, a notion convincingly dispelled by last year’s University of Texas study, sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund, that measured actual — not estimated or modeled — emissions from hundreds of gas wells at dozens of sites in the US.

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By Robert Rapier on Jan 15, 2014 with 10 responses

Grading My 2013 Energy Predictions

Normally I would have had this out two weeks ago, but the 60 Minutes story has thrown me behind schedule. I continue to get lots of comments and questions about Vinod Khosla and now his righteous indignation over how the 60 Minutes story was portrayed (especially since that was the only part of my interview they aired), so I may follow up in a week or so to explain (once more) the precise nature of my criticism — as well as what it isn’t. To be honest, I am tired of writing about it, and I am sure that regular readers are tired of reading about it, but new readers continue to ask questions that indicate they misunderstand the nature of my criticism.

In the meantime, here is my report card for my predictions from last year. In the next article, I will give my predictions for 2014.

In January 2013, I made the following five predictions for 2013:

  1. Brent and WTI crude prices will both average less in 2013 than in 2012.
  2. The Brent-WTI price differential — which has widened substantially in the past two years — will narrow in 2013.
  3. The average annual price of natural gas — as measured by the Henry Hub Gulf Coast Natural Gas Spot Price — will be higher than in 2012.
  4. The Obama Administration will approve the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.
  5. US oil production will continue to grow (but at a slower pace than in 2012), reaching the highest level since 1995.

CONTINUE»

By Robert Rapier on Dec 16, 2013 with 21 responses

How Bitumen Gets to Market

Introduction

Today’s article concludes the series covering my recent trip to the Athabasca oil sands around Fort McMurray, Alberta. This is an annual trip hosted by the Canadian government for energy journalists to raise overall awareness on issues involving the oil sands. Expenses for the trip were paid for by the Canadian government.

Previous articles in this series include:

In today’s final article I want to discuss the logistics involved in getting the oil sands to market. There is a narrative widely promoted by some environmental groups that they can successfully stall oil sands development by shutting off new routes to market. CONTINUE»

By Robert Rapier on Jul 8, 2013 with 44 responses

Protecting a Drowning Man from Sunburn

Later this week I intend to start a series covering the recently released BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2013. However, first I want to follow up on last week’s post The Increasing Irrelevance of the Keystone XL Debate. With few exceptions, the post was well-received by people on both sides of the debate. There was some reasonable debate on the post on my Twitter feed, and much less rancor. I think only one person accused me of being an “enemy combatant” while most recognized that I am sincerely trying to shine a light on a problem that I see as orders of magnitude worse than Keystone XL.

The primary objection to my argument over the irrelevancy of Keystone XL is the same one that has been voiced in the past. It is that the Keystone XL project itself may be relatively insignificant, but add up many Keystone XL projects and you get a big effect. The only problem is that this really isn’t even true.

In last week’s article I referenced a 2012 paper by Neil C. Swart and Andrew J. Weaver from the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria published in Nature Climate Change. That paper contained a graphic that I shared on Twitter, and it got quite a bit of commentary. The graphic shows the relative potential warming contributions of various fossil fuel resources:

warming_global_resources

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By Robert Rapier on Jul 2, 2013 with 54 responses

The Increasing Irrelevance of the Keystone XL Debate

Keystone XL’s Insignificant Contribution to Climate

Last week President Obama unveiled a new plan to combat climate change in a speech at Georgetown University. While there is generally broad consensus that his comments further threaten the already battered US coal industry, his comments on TransCanada’s (TSX: TRP, NYSE: TRP) Keystone XL pipeline project had pundits guessing at his meaning. Here is what the President said in his speech about Keystone XL:

Now, I know there’s been, for example, a lot of controversy surrounding the proposal to build a pipeline, the Keystone pipeline, that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands down to refineries in the Gulf. And the State Department is going through the final stages of evaluating the proposal. That’s how it’s always been done. But I do want to be clear: Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward. It’s relevant.

The reason that there have been widely differing views on the President’s intentions boils down to his use of the phrase “only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” The State Department’s Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Keystone XL Pipeline project already concluded that approval of the project would have little impact on global carbon dioxide emissions or on the development of the oil sands because of their view that the oil will get to market one way or another. More on that below. CONTINUE»

By Robert Rapier on Mar 26, 2013 with 30 responses

Protesting Keystone XL While Rome Burns

I started to go with “Fiddling While Rome Burns” in the title, but I know many people who would take great exception to the notion that the Keystone XL protesters are fiddling. Indeed, they do not believe they are fiddling. They believe they are standing up for the most important cause of our generation. Yet, as I argue in this column, the fire in Rome is burning faster than ever. Except in this case, Rome is China and what they are burning is coal.

In my most recent column – Why Environmentalists are Wrong on Keystone XL – I argued that the level of attention environmentalists are devoting to stopping the Keystone XL pipeline expansion is grossly disproportionate to the impact that the project can possibly have. I provided some numbers to support my argument, and observed that those opposing the pipeline are generally making emotional arguments.

As if to emphasize that point, the comments and emails that I got from people who were unhappy with my article were almost exclusively emotional in nature. Comments like “this post is dumb” and “we have to stop the dirtiest, filthiest oil on the planet” were typical. But nobody challenged the numbers. CONTINUE»

By Robert Rapier on Mar 5, 2013 with 67 responses

Why Environmentalists are Wrong on Keystone XL

If not for the US government’s latest demonstration of incompetence that played out at the end of last week (a.k.a. sequestration), the top news story might have been a report issued by the US State Department late Friday.

The report was the Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Keystone XL Pipeline project, and it was unwelcome news for environmentalists who have been protesting the crude pipeline extension that would link Canada’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

It may seem arbitrary, given the large number of oil and gas pipelines that already criss-cross the US, that this particular one has generated such a high profile debate around energy security and the environment. But this debate isn’t really about a pipeline. This pipeline isn’t going to make or break the development of Canada’s oil sands, nor — as I will show here — is it going to make a measurable difference with respect to climate change.

(Related: How Much Oil Does the World Produce?) CONTINUE»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 14, 2013 with 4 responses

Five Energy Predictions for 2013

Normally when I list the Top 10 stories of the year, I close the post by making predictions for the upcoming year. For 2012, my predictions were:

  1. President Obama will easily win reelection, which means that energy policies will likely continue along the current trajectory.
  2. The Keystone Pipeline project will be approved (although that decision may still slide into 2013).
  3. Natural gas prices will remain low, averaging below $5/MMBTU for the year.
  4. Oil prices — both West Texas Intermediate and Brent — will average above $100/barrel in 2012.
  5. 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.

Those predictions were correct for the most part. The first and third were correct, I believe the second will ultimately be correct, the fourth was mixed (Brent averaged above $100 and WTI averaged about $94), and the 5th just depends on one’s personal opinion. In my opinion, it is correct.

However, when I listed the Top 10 Energy Stories of 2012 — as voted upon by readers — I failed to list my predictions for 2013. So here they are:

  1. Brent and WTI crude prices will both average less in 2013 than in 2012.
  2. The Brent-WTI price differential — which has widened substantially in the past two years — will narrow in 2013.
  3. The average annual price of natural gas — as measured by the Henry Hub Gulf Coast Natural Gas Spot Price — will be higher than in 2012.
  4. The Obama Administration will approve the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.
  5. US oil production will continue to grow (but at a slower pace than in 2012), reaching the highest level since 1995.

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