U.S. Shale Is Pushing OPEC To Breaking Point

Among many bold promises made on the presidential campaign trail, Donald Trump pledged to unleash an “energy revolution” that would release vast riches from America’s shale oil reserves. It is doubtful that he expected Saudi Arabia to do the job for him. All over the US, dozens of oil rigs are coming back online every month. The count has increased for nine straight weeks, figures published yesterday by Baker Hughes, the oilfield services company, showed. There are now 631 active oil rigs in the US, more than double the number at the end of 2016. The EIA expects that output next year will surpass a record set in 1970. –James Dean, The Times, 20 March 2017

“The momentum, and how quickly the shale industry has turned around, is probably one of the biggest surprises of the last year,” Mr Ruecker said. “I’ve never seen such a rapid industry cycle. In the first quarter of 2016, the whole industry was in despair. We were wondering which companies would survive. By the fourth quarter, we were talking about which were growing the fastest.” –James Dean, The Times, 20 March 2017

The United States is in the early stages of a manufacturing renaissance, and is expected to grow, thanks to cheap and plentiful natural gas. The U.S. is expected to see a wave of petrochemical plant openings between now and next year. Those plants represent about $50 billion of $160 billion in manufacturing investment earmarked by the industry since 2012, according to James Fitterling, president and COO of Dow Chemical. Among them are several big ethylene plants, including one expected to be opened by Dow in Freeport, Texas, in the second quarter. “The U.S. has gone from a shale gas boom to a petrochemical boom,” said Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources. While natural gas industry experts discussed the outlook for a long period of low gas prices at the conference, the petrochemical industry described what only can be viewed as a boom in an industry that had been declining in the United States. –Patti Domm, CNBC, 9 March 2016

The Indian government can breathe more easily about one of its macro-economic concerns: Rising global oil prices. Despite a successful effort to reduce oil production by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, oil prices recently fell to below $ 50 a barrel, a three-month low. The primary reason: A countervailing surge in shale oil production by the United States. The US’ ability to quickly ratchet up oil production in response to higher prices has put a ceiling on global crude prices. There is an additional benefit in a parallel compression of natural gas prices. This is excellent news for India, among the world’s largest importers of oil and gas. The Narendra Modi government has benefited hugely from the slump in oil prices that began in 2014. By some estimates the drop in world oil and gas prices provided a windfall of over $10 billion to New Delhi in the 2015-16 financial year. –Editorial, Hindustan Times, 19 March 2017

The Senate confirmation of former Texas governor Rick Perry as secretary of energy, coupled with the earlier appointment of Exxon Mobil’s former CEO, Rex Tillerson, as secretary of state, comes at a time when the United States has emerged as an energy superpower: a leading global producer of oil and gas. President Donald Trump’s administration now has the ability to harness the country’s energy prowess for domestic economic benefits and achieve meaningful foreign policy gains for the country. –Agnia Grigas, The National Interest, 19 March 2017

According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest World Energy Outlook, oil and natural gas will still supply over 50% of the world’s energy in 2040. But, given the tendency to overestimate the ability of naturally intermittent renewables to displace (not simply supplement) conventional fuel systems, the contribution of oil and gas is likely to be even higher than anticipated. You must know that wind and solar only compete in the electricity sector, and electricity accounts for less than 45% of global energy demand. So, an energy system built on wind and solar isn’t practical: they don’t compete in the majority of the world’s energy economy. Oil is the world’s most vital fuel with no significant substitute whatsoever. And because 6 in every 7 humans today live in undeveloped nations, global oil consumption has really just started. The numbers in oil’s favor are overwhelming: over 90,000,000 vehicles were sold last year, and about 1% of them run on something other than oil. –Jude Clemente, Forbes, 19 March 2017

New UK government projections of capacity and supply suggest that interconnection and electricity imports must grow by over 300% by 2025 if demand is to be met. While imports are not in themselves to be feared, it is worrying that government appears to be using assumptions about interconnection as a free parameter to paper over deficiencies in what is now in effect a centrally planned electricity system. –John Constable, GWPF Energy Comments, 18 March 2017

Comments (1)

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    Sonnyhill

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    We should be burning more coal and less natural gas to generate electricity . Nat.gas is used much more efficiently in homes for heating, cooking and hot water compared to natgas burned by turbo generators or boilers for steam turbines. Coal-fired generators can contain the fly ash and sulfur dioxide produced by burning coal. Save some natural gas for your children’s children’s children. My version of sustainability .

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