2014 was a record-breaking year for US oil production. Spurred by the shale revolution, US crude output increased by a record 1.2m barrels a day to 8.7m b/d last year, according to a report published by the Energy Information Administration on Monday. That is the largest volume increase since 1900, the year the agency began keeping records. —Financial Times, 30 March 2015
Ever since the oil price decline began in earnest back in July 2014, popular discourse has suggested US shale plays would be in deep trouble. However, assumptions about a wholesale decline in activity now appear to be exaggerated at best. Tom Morgan, Analyst and Corporate Counsel at Drillinginfo, says making assumptions based on headline data miss one crucial point – efficiency gains. “No one in the industry is pretending that a lower oil price doesn’t bite. Yet, technological progress over the last decade, especially in terms of horizontal drilling is reaping benefits when times are hard. Over the last three years, efficiency of shale explorers has increased by 25%; so in effect three years ago the profitability of $100 per barrel oil is the same profitability at $75 per barrel.” –Gaurav Sharma, Forbes, 30 March 2015
Global oil prices may stay low for the next 10 or 20 years, according to Stanford economist Frank Wolak. The primary reasons for continuing low prices include the slowing demand for oil in the industrialized world and ever-advancing technological change in the extraction and use of oil, wrote Wolak in a new policy brief for the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. –Clifton B. Parker, Stanford University, 30 March 2015
Oil has been at the epicenter of the geopolitics of the Middle East for longer than the living memory of most people on earth today. Petroleum still powers 97 percent of air and ground miles. Every sensible forecast shows that the world’s staggering 33 billion barrel per year appetite for crude will be greater in the coming decades, not less. The U.S. now has the ability to position itself not only to influence but, in due course, to even dominate oil markets. Given the unraveling of the Middle East, if ever there were a propitious moment to reset American oil doctrine, it is now. –Mark P Mills, Forbes, 30 March 2015
Did you know that the Earth is getting greener, quite literally? Satellites are now confirming that the amount of green vegetation on the planet has been increasing for three decades. This will be news to those accustomed to alarming tales about deforestation, overdevelopment and ecosystem destruction. –Matt Ridley, The Wall Street Journal, 5 January 2013
The world’s vegetation has expanded, adding nearly 4 billion tonnes of carbon to plants above ground in the decade since 2003, thanks to tree-planting in China, forest regrowth in former Soviet states and more lush savannas due to higher rainfall. Louis Verchot, a research director at the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research, said Liu’s findings were ‘by and large what we would expect in the warmer and wetter world that results from climate change’. –Mark Prigg, Daily Mail, 31 March 2015
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