The decline in oil drilling that has occurred so far across the United States is probably enough to ensure U.S. production peaks by April or May, though that might not be evident until June or July given delays in publishing production records. If the number of active rigs continues to decline in...
A Good Father Figure
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Rep. Don Young will hold a press conference today at 2 p.m. in the Senate Radio and TV gallery to respond to the Obama administration’s efforts to lock up millions of acres of the nation’s richest oil and natural gas prospects on the Arctic coastal plain and move to block development of Alaska’s offshore resources.
We will report.... -dh
For those keeping a close eye on the Alaska economy, Alaskanomics produced this report today:
The Department of Labor and Workforce Development release its monthly unemployment numbers on Friday. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was down to 6.3 percent. The national rate was 5.6 percent for the same period. Alaska’s unadjusted rate was also at 6.3 percent for December.
The Municipality of Anchorage and the North Slope Borough were the only areas that did not have an increase in the unemployment rate. Anchorage is less subject to seasonal shifts and the North Slope Borough saw an increase with winter construction. The North Slope Borough has the lowest unemployment in the State at 3.7 percent, while Hoonah-Angoon Census Area has the highest with 21.6 percent.
Yesterday as I was considering the President's continuing and escalating attack on Alaska's statehood act, constitution and people my mind wandered to how other presidents would be acting.
I first thought of the "Father" of the United States, George Washington. He endured great hardship with his troops. He left family behind to fight the nation's enemies. He protected his people and defended them against internal and external threats. And, he refused to become "President for life" when the people urged him to do so.
I think of Abraham Lincoln, the father of American unity who poured his energy, soul and his very life into service of his country.
And, I think of their mutual devotion to our Creator, without whom the country could not have achieved maturity and without whom the country cannot long remain great or even exist.
Then, I think of our current president who vacations while his people fight; who deceives the people on all manner of domestic issues; who aligns himself with communists, socialists and anarchists bent on destruction of America's way of life; who will not come to the aid of soldiers and diplomats locked in mortal combat and hesitates not to leave them behind to the cruel devices of our enemies; who claims credit for energy and economic accomplishments occurring in spite of his contrary efforts; who actively blocks energy, mining, timber and other multiple use, wealth and job producing activity on public lands...and so much more.
One asks, when the president of a country birthed in sacrifice and devotion to Christian service separates himself from that legacy, what can the future hold for citizens?
None of us is perfect. Presidents aren't perfect. And, regular fathers of families are imperfect, too.
Perfection in our presidents and our fathers is not the issue. The issue is the purpose, devotion and example of life set for a father's children or a president's citizenry.
On this side let's say you have a father who acknowledges his imperfection yet strives with devotion to his heavenly Father to care for, protect and guide his children to healthy, adult outcomes.
And, on this side, you have a proud, imperfect father who does not seek the kingdom of heaven, scorns it and thereby neglects the time honored rules of the spirit and of living. Can he with that lack of foundation care for, protect and guide his children to healthy adult outcomes?
If a president consorts with those who would deprive his children of freedom and the opportunity of free enterprise can that be called protection?
If a president demonizes opponents to win an argument, can that lead citizens to healthy outcomes?
If a president seeks luxury while his citizens suffer in war or other depravations, can he be said to nobly guide them?
Enough of the Father analogies. They might just as well have been "mother" analogies or "cousin" analogies.
The point is this. We don't have much choice about the family into which we are born. We do get to have the leadership we elect. If the majority of Americans supports the kind of leadership we have, it will continue and its goals will change the culture and nature of the nation.
If the majority comes to believe that the traditional values of founding Fathers are critical to America's future, America might prosper, survive and enjoy a continuing mantle of protection.
For one, I am for good father and mother figures as defined above and reject the alternative.
It remains to be seen if the majority of my fellow citizens agree or prefer the new direction upon which we are now embarked.
One way leads to historically proven, laudable, protected and peaceful outcomes. The other way, history shows, leads to dictatorship, misery and loss of freedom.
It's time to make a choice and act upon it.
Today we focus on northern energy highlights so that readers can join us in appreciating the bigger picture and how each of our own special interests is framed within it. (Send us your comments and go here for yesterday's related commentary. -dh
Today, we would add these comments to the observations in yesterday's essay:
1. We did our best, yesterday, to portray the major components of what we believe to be the most serious leadership challenge in Alaska's history--and made some observations about Canada's energy challenges. We urge readers to scroll down and carefully review the object lessons that might be gleaned from yesterday's essay. (We who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. -apologies to Edmund Burke, et. al.) -dh
2. Earlier this month, the Alaska Support Industry Alliance held its annual, Meet Alaska Conference. While the overall tenor of the conference was positive and optimistic, that determination was, in part, the result of "keeping a stiff upper lip", as we discussed in yesterday's essay. Below, we will be posting MEET ALASKA event photos.
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Alaska Journal of Commerce writer Tim Bradner writes: There was an apprehensive mood among oil support contractors and service companies at the Alaska Support Industry Alliance’s annual “Meet Alaska” conference in Anchorage Jan. 9. Activity is still bustling on the North Slope despite the steady slide of crude oil prices — Alaska crude oil slid to $50 per barrel last week — but contractors worry that the layoff of rigs, crews and budget cuts being seen in the Lower 48 will spread to Alaska.
* * *
Petroleum News' Alan Bailey reported that, "Likening the challenges in Alaska over oil price volatility to the challenges of driving a snow machine across rough terrain, John Minge (NGP Photo), president of BP America, told the Alaska Support Industry Alliance’s Meet Alaska conference Jan. 9 that it is important to stay the course."
* * *
Go to the Alliance webpage here to view several of the MEET ALASKA PowerPoint presentations.
3. Thursday, if you are in Anchorage, plan to attend the Alaska Support Industry Alliance breakfast briefing by the Alaska Deputy Commissioner of Revenue Marcia Davis. That will coincide with the Governor's legislative budget speech to the Legislature. Important days upon us....
ALASKA SUPPORT INDUSTRY ALLIANCE, MEET ALASKA 2015, EVENT PHOTOS
Marianne Kah, Chief Economist, ConocoPhillips
Alliance Trade Show Participants:
Eric Dompeling, SolstenXP
Todd Jones, Alaska Glacier
Caroline Higgins, Consumer Energy Alliance - Alaska
Alliance and General Support Staff:
(More photos coming....)
Throughback to 2004:
The Prince - Romeo & Juliet
Essay: Maintaining Optimism In A Challenging Environment
An essay to assist both Alaska citizens and our thousands of readers abroad in understanding the critical circumstances now confronting the 49th state.
America invented the term, “Keep a stiff upper lip”, exactly two hundred years ago in a book entitled, "Massachusetts Spy". The Brits adopted the term and now oil producers throughout the world are repeating it to stay calm in the face of what may be a prolonged period of low oil prices.
We will first sympathize with Alberta’s new Premier, one of the best and brightest elected officials in North America. Jim Prentice (NGP Photo) inherited a southern neighbor whose president is guided more by political debts to environmental extremists than the public interest.
Prentice also entered office just as oil prices began to plummet, putting his Province in a similar but much less severe fiscal crisis than Alaska faces (See box, lower left).
Alaska's situation is more critical than Alberta's, because its budget is over 90% dependent on its declining oil production vs. Alberta's 10% dependency on oil sands royalties. Note in the link above the decisive steps Premier Prentice is considering. With a much more dire fiscal challenge, will Alaska undertake decisive measures this legislative session, as Alberta seems to be doing, or will Alaska fund deficits with the remaining state savings?
Note to: Elected Officials
We hope there is not one elected official in Alaska (i.e. Governor, Mayor, Assembly or Council or School Board member) who has had a conversation at home with a significant other, like this:
"Honey, you know the situation is dire. We have had deficit budgets for some time now. But with 50% lower oil prices, we'll burn through the savings in a couple years. And still, we have almost a $10 billion unfunded PERS/TERS liability. (Though if worst comes to worst a bankruptcy court would order the permanent fund to keep our state pensions whole, I think). Hopefully, we'll see another boom in discoveries or in prices...but if not, we have to make plans. So I'm thinking we just stay in office through 2017, keep a low profile, then make our move. Are you O.K. with that?"
Surely no elected official would swear an oath of office and decide to do nothing requiring courage or sacrifice to confront the fiscal shortfalls -- like cut capital projects, operational spending, even matching government programs and even entitlement programs.
We realize that these challenges are not fun for politicians.
But we hope we elected statesmen and not politicians, for the latter care too much about pleasing constituencies and guaranteeing reelection.
Statesmen will be willing to be vilified and defeated in order to make decisions that best serve the public interest.
So now, we suggest that all those who wanted to serve and are serving will meet their moments of truth in short order.
Will they take the easy road and keep all beneficiaries of state spending whole -- subsidized by remaining savings, then split...?
Or, will they lay it all on the line for their fellow citizens knowing that their 'thanks' may well be the disdain of thousands of constituents who wanted and did not receive money transfers from government.
We truly do sympathize, Honorable Elected Officials...just as we sympathize and respect military veterans who have served their country and been willing to give it all for the rest of us.
Thank you, in advance, for your service.
Exacerbating President Obama’s delay and perhaps an ultimate blockade of TransCanada Corporation's Keystone XL oil pipeline --designed to move stranded oil sands oil in Northern Alberta to America’s gulf coast -- is a second negative development. Environmental groups and utility interests in Quebec are trying to block the converting of an old gas pipeline into an oil pipeline, through which TransCanada could ship Alberta’s oil to European markets (See our commentary).
Then we have TransCanada’s effort (i.e. along with that of dozens of companies and governments) for a half century to move stranded Arctic gas from Alaska and the McKenzie Delta to Midwestern markets via a number of projects. We could certainly sympathize with TransCanada shareholders and those paying tariffs on its existing pipelines, for they have been sporting stiff upper lips for a long time.
Surging oil and gas shale technology less than a decade ago, evolved into a true energy revolution. The extended and expanded reach of shale production on mostly private lands touched almost everyone. Consumers have experienced lower prices for gas fired electricity, home heating and gasoline. Manufacturers depending on low cost energy began expanding North American operations. Investors launched several dozen American and Canadian LNG export projects. Job growth has been phenomenal. European energy markets began to envision a day when Russian producers could not control their destinies through price and supply manipulation. Finally, Asian markets used to paying premium prices for imported LNG began to see a softening of consumer prices.
The Canadian provincial and federal governments were supporting energy development in spite of significant environmental activism. Oil prices supported the relatively expensive production of Northern Alberta bitumen.
In the US, the last few years saw production on private land cause economic rejuvenation in many pro-energy states, in spite of Federal government support of environment activism aimed at killing projects on both private and public lands. Ironically, the Administration has gone on to claim credit for the economic improvements, even as it intensifies EPA opposition to energy specifically and job development generally.
As economic cycles would have it, all is not well in the world. The shale revolution was not just good for consumers; it was GREAT. So great that with supply increasing oil & gas prices began to retreat along with commodity values. That, in turn, has brought many shale operational revenues beneath or close to the cost of production. Combined with Canada’s inability to export necessary volumes of Alberta oil, North America’s two great economies are now facing giant economic challenges.
Federal, provincial, state and local governments throughout the US and Canada are now engaged in cutting or plans to cut government services in response to the diminishing production of energy wealth.
* * *
Alaska may be facing the single greatest economic challenge in the free world for many reasons that, together, compose a perfect storm of economic hurdles, including:
- With its operating government budget over 90% dependent on oil income, along with over a third of its entire economy, Alaska is the most dependent of North America's state or provincial governments on oil revenue— now down by 50% over the last few months.
- Alaska is the U.S. producing area most dependent on high prices. High oil prices help compensate for some of the highest oil taxes, the harshest climate, the highest labor costs, its remoteness and distance to the markets and the additional cost liability of having to move its oil via an expensive, underused and ageing 800-mile pipeline to tidewater where it has to be loaded onto seagoing tankers capable of transporting it thousands of miles to markets. In stark contrast, its biggest competitors produce oil mostly at tidewater, mostly in temperate zones, mostly in lower labor cost areas, with lower logistical costs and cheaper transport to their market areas.
- Alaska’s nearly 40-year-old Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), has already moved the lion’s share of Prudhoe Bay oil. It once transported the greatest share of America's domestic production (i.e. But has now fallen behind North Dakota, Texas and California) at the rate of about 2.1 million barrels per day. That production rate has since sunk by over 70%.
- Governor Sara Palin’s (NGP Photo) administration succeeded, nearly a decade ago, in attaching high, progressive production taxes on Alaskan oil in spite of what was then a pattern of annual 5-7% declines in TAPS throughput. That economically suicidal action dried up new investment even though producers needed to hire more people and initiate more projects just to maintain the decades-old production and transportation facilities. Two years ago, the Legislature saw the error of Alaska’s shortsighted ways and passed SB 21, modifying the production tax. Talk quickly spread around the industry that new investment and exploration was now possible and being planned – hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth. Unfortunately, opponents of SB 21 and environmental groups undertook a voters initiative to repeal SB 21, inserting dark clouds of caution over the investment climate. After spending millions of dollars to combat the initiative Alaskan citizens and businesses defeated it last August. Still, investors are left with the nagging knowledge that in Alaska, “A Deal May Not Be A Deal”, since a few guys and gals with a volunteer lawyer and dozens of activist organization volunteers could initiate a new voters initiative at any time.
If Alaskan citizens and their leaders summon the faith, humility, wisdom, cooperation, sacrifice, initiative and diligence required by GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT, the future can still be bright for this generation and those to follow.
This is where optimism is to be found.
One must add to this mix the fact that Alaska’s huge resource potential has been slowed or stopped at almost every turn by a hostile and overreaching federal administration whose cheerleaders are activist environmental groups that in the last 3 decades have implanted some three dozen anti-development campaign offices around Alaska.
- Alaska’s North Slope gas remains stranded. Several projects over the years – all involving TransCanada – have endeavored to free that energy wealth since the early 1970s. All of the projects have failed after having met the wrong end of unforeseen economic or technological forces. When natural gas prices exploded at the turn of the century, producers again began eyeing the economic feasibility of “monetizing Alaska North Slope gas”. After spending a hundred million dollars to update studies, they affirmed one of the critical requirements for investment to be, “fiscal certainty”. This meant that investors couldn’t justify building the largest construction project in history with the chance a “sovereign” state government could enact massive new taxes after a multi-billion dollar, high pressure gas pipe was buried into the frozen tundra. Then, just as feasibility was looking promising, came the Palin Progressive Production tax. Today, following the passage of SB 21, producers and the State of Alaska have dramatically changed the gas project. Because of shale, the gas is not needed in the Midwest. So now, with falling revenue and fading economic hopes, the state, producers and TransCanada are endeavoring to prove out the feasibility of an Alaska LNG export project …targeting Asia…just as gas prices are falling and over a dozen LNG projects (i.e. see map) throughout the US and Canada are mostly vying for the same markets.
- Alaska defends its high cost of government because of its enormous size (i.e. 20% the size of the entire US), its low population (i.e. less than a million), and logistical costs. But excuses don’t matter in a world of competition and excuses cannot erase the facts:
- Alaska spends more per capita than any other state.
- Alaska’s debt is larger per capita than that of any other state or the federal government.
- Its per capita education costs are the highest.
- Alaska government and citizens fund the most non-profit organizations per capita.
- Alaska’s anti-business legislators and activist groups normally seek higher taxes to meet the challenges rather than restrain government spending. The republicans locally, as nationally, are generally in support of a sustainable economy. But just as all democrats are not socialists, all republicans are not prudent guardians of other people’s money and often let spending/entitlement increases slide through in exchange for capital projects, constituent tax breaks, etc.
- Alaska’s legislative session is now beginning and the previous governor’s budget under consideration is now several billion dollars short. This requires a possible tapping into about $3 billion of nearly $10 billion in savings. Any second grader knows that’s not sustainable for long. But to make matters more interesting, rating agencies are noting that Alaska also has an unfunded liability to its retirement program of almost $10 billion. The obvious way to fund that deficiency is to tap Alaska’s $50 billion permanent fund. The permanent fund was created two decades after statehood to fund ‘rainy day’ budgets but has been traditionally used to pay citizens an annual allotment, last year approaching $2,000 for each man, woman and child. It has become sacred income to voters.
Last November Alaskans elected a new governor whose primary constituencies were rural Alaskans, democrats, and labor. So far, Governor Bill Walker (NGP Photo) has ordered a slowing of spending on capital projects but has not, at this writing, undertaken serious cuts to state government operations or entitlement programs. We'll hear more this week as he delivers separate state of the state and budget speeches.
Some hope, through stiff upper lips and gritted teeth that another boom of some sort will appear just in time to facilitate continued high state spending.
Others believe that Alaska’s unparalleled rise in oil riches has come to an end and that serious, adult decisions must quickly be made.
Still others believe that Alaska’s 1959 Statehood Compact has been mortally wounded; they believe that federal regulation has so exacerbated the scenarios described above that only the most brilliant, persuasive, intelligent, savvy and charismatic leadership can now save the “Last Frontier” from federal hostility and its own tax and spend decisions.
So join us now in observing the tensions that will surely appear over the next four months of Alaska’s legislative session as, together, we witness leadership rising to the occasion, or not.
Meanwhile, keep a stiff upper lip!
Dave Harbour is Publisher of Northern Gas Pipelines. A former Chairman of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, he also served as Chairman of the Gas Committee, Western Conference of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Harbour is former Chairman of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Council on Economic Education. He has served in executive positions with three producing/pipeline companies and as a board member and officer of a number of non-profit corporations. His articles have appeared in hundreds of magazines, newspapers and on-line publications. He has delivered hundreds of speeches throughout North America and chaired oil and gas programs and conferences from Houston to Calgary, Edmonton, Anchorage and Inuvik. Contact the author.
Caution: We would urge our Arctic oriented readers to carefully follow this BSEE Arctic/General OCS Research Plan, for if contracts are given to organizations or professors that are predisposed to be agenda driven, the results may be less than scientific, less than objective. In short, one hopes we can avoid the situation wherein a Federal Administration sells leases, then does everything in its power to nullify action--at considerable expense to leaseholders and consumers. -dh
|But hold on.... Bradner has an update for this story.
Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards ... said in a Jan. 14 interview with the Journal that the current requirement keeps too much information from the public and that a new policy is being developed that will allow more open discussion of AK LNG issues in public while protecting certain private information
Alaska Journal of Commerce by Tim Bradner. The state’s political and resource communities are still buzzing about Gov. Bill Walker’s sudden firing Jan. 6 of three Alaska Gasline Development Corp. board members and his order that new board members not sign confidentiality pledges.
Apache Cuts This Week. WSJ by Lynn Cook. Apache Corp. is laying off as many as 250 employees this week in one of the first major workforce cuts at an American oil producer since crude prices began to plunge last summer.
|Washington Times. BP has announced it will cut an estimated 200 staff jobs and another 100 contracting jobs in light of falling oil prices.|
The Houston-based energy company, one of the biggest in the U.S., pumps oil and gas in places from Texas to Egypt and employs about 5,000 ...
(including Alaska, we might add. -dh)
Keystone XL Week's End Commentary
James R. Halloran
We have made it clear that our position is that Keystone XL will not be constructed, at least the five feet of pipeline that would cross the border. The basic weapon that will doom it is time. Its opponents will drag out the approval process until TransCanada gives up. The combination of litigation in multiple courts and dithering by Obama and his minions will drag out the process for years to come.
Much has been written about the Nebraska Supreme Court supposedly clearing the way for Obama acolytes to back into a four-corner stall. But according to Washington Analysis (below), Nebraska may be able to baby-sit the proposal for some additional time. Read the explanation below.
(Follow-up material coming....)
|Alaska budget and gasline Comments, ADN by Tim Bradner (NGP Photo).
I have sympathy for new Gov. Bill Walker walking into this. So far — with one exception — Walker’s actions have been quite reasoned. He prudently ordered a stop to unobligated spending on several high-profile state development projects and put off submitting a revised state budget until January to allow his team to develop a plan.
Note to readers and public service advertisers: the right hand column normally appearing here is being reconstructed. Thank you for your patience. -dh
Comment: 'Climate Change/Global Warming' Is Important To Energy Producers...and, transporters, refiners, distributors and consumers because when the government and its political allies use it as a foundational assumption for policy, the economy suffers upstream at the wealth producing level, all the way to consumers and defenders of national security. -dh
Washington Post by George Will. We know, because they often say so, that those who think catastrophic global warming is probable and perhaps imminent are exemplary empiricists. They say those who disagree with them are “climate change deniers” disrespectful of science.
Actually, however, something about which everyone can agree is that of course the climate is changing — it always is. And if climate Cassandras are as conscientious as they claim to be about weighing evidence, how do they accommodate historical evidence of enormously consequential episodes of climate change not produced by human activity? Read more....
Energy Guardian by Edward Felker. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (NGP Photo) of Alaska on Thursday laid out an ambitious vision for energy legislation she plans to pursue as the first Republican chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee since 2006, beyond the Keystone XL bill the panel approved mostly along party lines.
Her priorities include a measure by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., to speed up approvals of liquefied natural gas, which Murkowski said will get a hearing this month.
While consumers rejoice, low oil prices cause "crises" to those governments and economies that are highly dependent on a high price for the volatile oil & gas commodities they produce.
It may be instructive for decision makers in Alaska and Alberta, for example, to observe -- as they develop their own creative solutions -- ideas from abroad.
Here is what the Ecuador’s Vice President Jorge Glas said yesterday in a Radio announcement about that country's dependence on falling oil prices (See our earlier story re: Ecuador - Pebble Project, Alaska). “We have already faced similar situations, as have many countries throughout Latin America. We have a technical government that is prepared to face this crisis." According to a recent posting of a Tiempo Story, "The Ecuadorian government is taking a number of steps to address the economic repercussions of the dramatic decline in oil prices. One such measure has been the revocation of the 5% increase in public sector wages which was scheduled for 2015. There have also been a number of proposals to cut the state budget by as much as $1.4 million. Ecuador’s Minister of Finance Fausto Herrera recently reported that the government will cut its capital expenditures by over $800 million, in addition to a $580 million cut from the budgets of current projects. With regards to the latter, there will be a direct cut of $200 million, while the remaining $380 million will be saved by optimizing spending."
On Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the pipeline’s route through Nebraska while the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the project following Senate Energy Committee action. Prior to the release of the Nebraska Supreme Court decision, Michael Whatley (NGP Photo) of the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) appeared on Omaha’s KMTV to preview what to expect from the courts and what implications a decision would have. Following the decision, CEA issued a statement and spoke to several networks, including Nebraska Public Radio. Later on Friday, CEA issued a statement of support following the House’s vote to approve the project by a strong bipartisan majority, which was picked up on Omaha’s WOWT. (Note: We have long associated ourselves with CEA and other NGOs advocating reasonable, 'all-of-the-above' energy development policies and projects for North America. In fact, we believe that together such groups represent the common-sense, public interest 'sweet spot' creating the best blend of economic development, environmental conservation, job creation, and consumer benefits. -dh)
KTUU Television. (See story left column) The agencies in charge of six "mega projects'" that were put on hold in December by Gov. Bill Walker submitted reports this week outlining the operating costs and potential consequences if work is delayed or stopped permanently. The projects include the Ambler Mining District, the Juneau Access Road, the Susitna-Watana Hydro Project, the Knik Arm Bridge;, the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline; and the Kodiak Launch Complex.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES, fron Schwab: Tpday, Tranocean, Ltd. (RIG) fell 2.30% to a new 52 week low of $15.72. During the last 52 weeks, RIG's price has ranged from $48.53 on January 10, 2014 to today's low of $15.72. Additionally, over the last 12 months, RIG has decreased 67.59% while its peers in the Oil & Gas Drilling industry decreased 47.73%.
TODAY'S ENERGY IN DEPTH ENERGY LINKS:
HF: New York, California and the perils of ignoring science. San Jose Mercury News,EID’s Dave Quast. Recent developments in the debate over hydraulic fracturing (fracking), however, show that these two states have fundamentally opposite approaches to leadership from Democratic governors. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York didn't lead, but rather followed when his Health Commissioner announced that the state would continue its ban on fracking. This despite the fact that the state's Department of Health couldn't find evidence that fracking is harmful.
The debate about fracturing must be based on sound science. Times Record News, column. Hydraulic fracturing has been accused by environmental groups of everything from polluting water supplies to contaminating the air to causing cancer to inducing earthquakes. Dr. Dan Hill, head and professor and Noble Chair of the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University, wrote a column that appeared in the Bryan/College Station Eagle on Dec. 30 that warned consumers “to keep an eye out for claims masquerading as ‘science.’”
The Myth of the Carbon Investment ‘Bubble’. Wall Street Journal, op-ed. Buzzwords about “stranded” and unburnable assets are making some investors anxious. The carbon-bubble movement is also putting pressure on endowments, foundations and pension funds to divest fossil-fuel equity holdings. Yet is the carbon-based investment risk real or is it part of a cry for action on climate change? Look closely and financial-market realities deflate the carbon-bubble theory.
U.S. Drivers Start 2015 With Cheapest Gas in Six Years. Bloomberg. Drivers paid an average of $2.2021 a gallon for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps last week, the lowest level for this time of year since 2009, according to Lundberg Survey Inc. U.S. oil output rose to 9.13 million barrels a day in the week ended Jan. 2, after reaching 9.14 million Dec. 12, the highest level in weekly Energy Information Administration data dating back to 1983. U.S. production has increased 66 percent in five years as companies have used horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to tap into hydrocarbon-rich layers of underground shale rock.
NY shale ban to have little impact on national supply. Associated Press. New York's recent decision to ban fracking is hardly seen as a big loss for the nation's production of natural gas. That's because scientists say New York's available reserves of natural gas in the sprawling Marcellus Shale are minuscule compared to what can be extracted in other states. Penn State University geologist Terry Engelder estimates that the entire Marcellus Shale region has 127 trillion cubic feet of commercially viable shale gas reserves, mostly in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Saudi prince: $100-a-barrel oil 'never' again. USA Today, Q&A. Saudi billionaire businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal told me we will not see $100-a-barrel oil again. The plunge in oil prices has been one of the biggest stories of the year. And while cheap gasoline is good for consumers, the negative impact of a 50 percent decline in oil has been wide and deep, especially for major oil producers such as Saudi Arabia and Russia.