Expert witnesses testifying during Tuesday’s House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing agreed that the United States has plentiful supplies of natural gas, underscoring the ability and need to expand domestic use and move forward with exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Here’s what they had to say:
Daniel Yergin, IHS: “While markets and economics will eventually determine the realistic scale of U.S. exports, one also has to take into account wider considerations in assessing policy regarding future LNG exports. For decades, the United States has made the free flow of energy supplies one of the cornerstones of foreign policy. It is a principle we have urged on many other nations. How can the United States, on one hand, say to a close ally like Japan, suffering energy shortages from Fukushima, please reduce your oil imports from Iran, and yet turn around and, on the other, say new natural gas exports to Japan are prohibited?”
Adam Sieminski, Energy Information Administration (EIA): “Cumulative production of dry natural gas from 2011 through 2035 in the AEO2013 Reference case is about 8 percent higher than in AEO2012, primarily reflecting continued increases in shale gas production that result from the dual application of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.”
Mary Hutzler, Institute for Energy Research and former energy analyst at EIA : “The outlook for natural gas production in the United States has dramatically changed over the last decade. Just a few years ago, U.S. manufacturing facilities were moving abroad to pursue more affordable gas. At the time, the U.S. had relatively high natural gas prices. Now … energy companies are considering building liquefied natural gas terminals to export natural gas and new manufacturing plants are springing up around the country. The boom in natural gas production has completely changed the natural gas landscape and has greatly lowered natural gas prices for consumers and industrial users.”
- Japan’s TEPCO gears up for US shale gas imports (utsandiego.com)
- Canada gives OK to LNG exports (upi.com)
- US Department of Energy Grants Pangea LNG Export Authorization [REPORT] (gcaptain.com)
By Alan Caruba
What if I told you that the government was blocking America’s prosperity in the form of enormous untapped energy reserves that represent wealth and jobs that would once again put America on the path to fiscal security and growth?
Recently, Matt Vespa, on CNS.com reported that the International Energy Agency released a report that said the United States has the capacity to outpace Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s leading producers of oil. It projected that the U.S. could become a net oil exporter around 2020. It could become entirely self-sufficient.
Even so, the Obama administration just moved to cordon off 1.6 million acres estimated to represent one trillion barrels worth of oil in the name of conservation. At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving to so encumber hydraulic fracturing—fracking—with so many regulations it will thwart increased use of this extraction technology that has been safely in use for decades.
As Dan Kish, Senior Vice President for Policy at the Institute for Energy Research, warns, there is a major government effort “to federalize hydraulic fracturing regulation” which is already being done by states “in a very professional and knowledgeable way. Take fracking away, the oil and gas production drops.”
For years, through many administrations, the federal government has been doing everything in its power to restrict drilling domestically and off-shore where billions of barrels of oil remains untapped. In October, a Wall Street Journal editorial noted that “The latest example is the Interior Department’s little-noticed August decision to close off from drilling nearly half of the 23.5 million acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.”
As far back as 1976, Congress designated the Reserve a strategic oil and gas stockpile to meet the “energy needs of the nation”, but oil and gas that is not extracted meets no needs. It keeps the nation dependent on imported oil and gas. In an August 22 letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar from the entire Alaska delegation in Congress called it “the largest wholesale land withdrawal and blocking of access to an energy resource by the federal government in decades.”
Noting that “Most of the other 11.5 million acres are almost indistinguishable from the acreage owned by the state that is being drilled safely nearby” the Journal pointed out that drilling on privately owned land has seen North Dakota pass Alaska as the second highest oil-producing state behind Texas.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, “The federal government owns roughly 635-640 million acres of the land in the United States. Four agencies administer 609 million acres of this land; the Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture, and the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service, all in the Department of the Interior.” The Bureau of Land Management manages 248 million acres and is responsible for 700 million acres of subsurface mineral resources.
Mostly by stealth, more and more privately owned land is being purchased by the federal government. In September 2011, Audrey Hudson, writing for Human Events, reported that “The Obama administration is spending $35 million to buy 30,000 acres of private property across the U.S. this year to make permanent homes for mice, fairy shrimp, mussels, prairie bushes and beetles. Those are just some of the 70 critters and plants to benefit from the land purchases in a dozen states as part of the government’s habitat conservation plans for endangered species.”
Quoting Rob Gordon of The Heritage Foundation, Hudson reported that “The federal government already owns more land than Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Poland combined.” The Endangered Species Act is just an excuse to secure ownership of more land and, in particular, to restrict development of every description from housing to hospitals.
Instead of a future in which our oil and gas reserves could unleash all manner of economic growth and the generation of thousands of new jobs, Ben Wolfgang, reporting in the November 22 edition of The Washington Times, “The drilling process that has brought the U.S. energy independence within reach faces renewed scrutiny from the Obama administration and an uncertain future in many states.”
“Next month, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release a draft of its long-awaited report on suspected links between water pollution and fracking, which uses huge amounts of water, combined with sand and chemical mixtures, to crack underground rock and release trapped oil and gas.” Fracking, however, occurs well below underground water levels and has been shown to have no effect on it.
What we are witnessing is the deliberate effort by the Obama administration, in concert with earlier administrations, to deny the economic benefit of tapping the nation’s vast reserves of oil and gas domestically and off-shore. This was evident, as well, in the President’s decision about the XL Keystone pipeline on the grounds that it threatened aquifers if allowed to proceed. Thousands of jobs were lost in that single decision with no evidence of the truth of the assertion.
As the nation sinks further into economic decline and default, it is obvious that the nation’s energy sector is being thwarted at a time when it holds the promise of lifting it out of growing unemployment, higher energy costs, and the drumbeat of utterly false environmental claims about greenhouse gas emissions.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Alan Caruba’s commentaries are posted daily at “Warning Signs” and shared on dozens of news and opinion websites. His blog recently passed more than 2 million page views. If you love to read, visit his monthly report on new books at Bookviews. For information on his professional skills, Caruba Editorial Services is the place to go! You can find Alan Caruba on both Facebook and Twitter as well.
- Noble Energy Makes Oil Discovery at Big Bend Prospect in U.S. Gulf (mb50.wordpress.com)
- China planning ‘huge fracking industry’ (guardian.co.uk)
- The Poisonous Presidency (papundits.wordpress.com)
- Edwards: Drilling bills are expected this session (times-news.com)
The Obama administration’s energy policies have been a disaster for America. Obama appointed a Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, who shared Obama’s desire that fossil fuel prices increase, so that it would be more expensive for you to drive your car, heat your home, buy groceries, power your laptop, and so on. Obama wanted higher prices in order to reduce carbon emissions and to enrich the Democratic Party fat cats who dominate the “green” energy industry. The administration has carried out its policy of higher fossil fuel costs by reducing exploration for oil on federal lands, imposing draconian standards on coal-fired power plants, banning normal light bulbs, and countless other measures large and small.
Now, however, Obama’s re-election campaign is in trouble, in large part because voters aren’t happy about being impoverished by Obama’s anti-energy policies. So, in an absurd turnabout, Obama has postured himself as an advocate of “drill, baby, drill.” In order to defend himself, Obama has repeatedly and consistently lied about his own administration’s policies and about America’s energy resources. That is a harsh characterization, but there is simply no other way to put it.
Dear Secretary Salazar:
We are concerned with the veracity of statements you made in recent weeks regarding domestic energy production on our federal resources. These statements are similar to claims made by other members of the Administration including the President himself. As you may know, the federal government owns almost 2.5 billion acres of mineral estate, an area larger than the entire land mass of the United States. As director of the Bureau of Land Management, Robert Abbey, testified this month, oil production on our federal property is actually down 14% and offshore production from federal areas is down 17% from only a year ago. Just last week, the Congressional Research Service issued a report revealing that 96 percent of the increase in domestic oil production since 2007 has occurred on non-federal lands. It further revealed that in 2011 production on federal public lands has actually declined by an average of 275,000 barrels per day. Oil production on private lands is indeed up year-over-year, but the Administration does not manage private lands and should not attempt to take credit for private market decisions.
Oil production on federal lands increased in 2009 and 2010 as a result of leasing and permitting decisions made before your Administration took office. However, the falloff in leasing and permitting actions under the Obama Administration is apparent, and even your own Energy Information Administration anticipates continued falloff in production in 2012 and beyond.
We also ask that you rectify the President’s claim that we only have 2% of the world’s oil. Nothing could be further from the truth, as even the Washington Post reported last week. He bases this statement on U.S. “proved reserves” but the U.S. Energy Information Administration has stated that proved reserves is “not an appropriate measure for judging total resource availability in the long-term.” As Secretary of Interior, surely you are aware of the vast oil resources we possess both onshore and offshore that are currently off limits due to this Administration’s combined actions. America is endowed with resources that exceed a TRILLION barrels of oil.
According to the Institute for Energy Research, “USGS estimates that unconventional U.S. oil shale resources hold 2.6 trillion barrels of oil, with about 1 trillion barrels that are considered recoverable under current economic and technological conditions. These 1 trillion barrels are nearly four times the amount of oil resources as Saudi Arabia’s proven oil reserves.
We provide the following examples of what we would view as further inaccurate statements by the Administration regarding the state of federal energy production and resources:
1. Claim: “Expanding offshore oil and gas production is a key component of our comprehensive energy strategy to grow America’s energy economy, and will help us continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create jobs here at home.” Secretary Ken Salazar, DOI Press Release 1/26/2012
Fact: You made the two most pivotal decisions to shrink domestic offshore energy production over the last three years that could have been made. First, you eliminated the 2010-2015 OCS lease plan that would have opened areas of the Atlantic, four geologic basins off S. California, one geologic basin off N. California, while expanding areas in Alaska, including the Cook Inlet. Instead, you have proposed a new 5-year plan that excludes all of the areas of the OCS where the moratorium was lifted in 2008, and reduces the number of planned lease sales by roughly half. Essentially, the moratorium lifted by President Bush and a Democrat Congress in 2008 will continue in effect for a decade under your plan.
2. Claim: The proposed 5-year offshore lease plan will “make more than 75 percent of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas estimated on the OCS available for development.” Secretary Salazar, DOI Press Release 11/08/2011
Fact: These numbers distort the facts. The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is 1.76 billion acres. Of that 1.76 billion, less than 35 million acres are actually leased (less than 2%). Your proposed 5-year lease plan does not open a single new lease planning area, and therefore we have no way of knowing what estimates of “technologically recoverable” oil in all of the areas that remain off limits are because you have chosen to keep them off limits. Most of our OCS has not been explored for decades, and providing access to only a fraction gives us no clue what is truly there.
A more accurate statement is that your 5 year plan opens 75% of the oil and gas in areas where we think it exists because we have drilled there. We don’t know about the vast majority of the OCS that isn’t leased, much of which has not been assessed with the benefit of new information for a quarter century.
3. Claim: “Since we put in place new safety standards in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, we have approved more than 400 drilling permits. In fact, we are now permitting at levels seen before the spill, all while meeting these important new standards.” Secretary Ken Salazar, 3/12/2012
Fact: There exists no evidence that permitting for production has indeed reached pre-moratorium levels. In fact, the families impacted in the Gulf are still reeling from the impacts of the slowed pace of permitting. Exploration and permitting have yet to recover to pre-2010 levels on account of the moratorium and ensuing permitorium on shallow and deepwater permits. According to one recent study, “Prior to the deepwater drilling moratorium, the U.S. oil and natural gas offshore industry was forecasted to grow significantly due to identified prospects, mostly in the deep water. With the establishment of the moratorium and the subsequent slowdown in the issuance of drilling permits at all water depths, an estimated $18.3 billion of previously planned capital and operational expenditures did not occur in 2010 and 2011.” The study further concludes that the permitting challenges have already cost 90,000 jobs. It is of importance to note that the moratorium was never endorsed by the National Academy of Engineers, as you had attempted to represent. An Inspector General investigation was required to uncover the political influence and misrepresentation by the White House and your office in an important scientific document.
4. Claim: “The fact of the matter is that we are producing more from public lands, both oil and gas, both onshore as well as offshore, than at any time in recent memory. And when you look back at the years of 2009, 2010, and 2011, we’ve continued to make millions and millions of acres of the public estate available both on the land, as well as on the sea.” Secretary Ken Salazar, 3/12/2012
Fact: As we pointed out earlier in this letter, there is significant lag time to production after the process of leasing. Presumably this is the reason for your repeated observation that “there is no immediate fix” for higher gas prices. After a company has leased property they then have to explore, develop and produce, with each stage requiring new permits and compliance with federal processes. The production gains we saw in 2009 and 2010 were the result of leasing and permitting that occurred in the Clinton and Bush Administrations, and was just beginning to come online. However, by 2011 we began to experience the impacts from the moratorium and falloff of leasing and permitting under your leadership. Total oil production on federal lands is down 14% over the previous year, offshore is even worse at down 17%, and federal lands saw the fewest number of new onshore leases since 1984. You also failed to hold a single offshore lease sale in fiscal year 2011.
As a further example, in 2008 the industry spent $2.6 billion to obtain 487 leases in the Chukchi Sea for production offshore Alaska. So far, not a single well has been drilled on any of these leases. There have also been numerous new regulatory roadblocks and permit withdrawals from federal onshore production since you took over leadership of the Agency. Examples of onshore leasing challenges include your withdrawn and slowed leasing in the West, including Montana and the Dakotas.
In July of 2008, then as a United States Senator, you had an opportunity to support increasing domestic energy production, if the price of gas increased beyond a certain threshold. You repeatedly objected to increasing domestic energy production, even if the price of gas were to have reached $10 per gallon.
Although gas prices are not $10 per gallon, they are increasingly impacting our economy and fellow Americans, particularly low-income and middle-class families. We are hopeful that similarly to Secretary Chu, you have reevaluated your position on gas prices and will redirect your efforts to alter what the agency has done to limit future production, and will instead work to develop our truly vast domestic oil resources, resources that well exceed “2%” of the world’s oil.
 NORTH AMERICAN ENERGY INVENTORY, Institute for Energy Research, December, 2011.
 The State of the Offshore U.S. Oil and Gas Industry, An in-depth study of the outlook of the industry investment flows offshore, Quest Offshore Resources, Inc., December 2011.
Of all the reasons why it is imperative to bring the Obama administration to an end in January, its pervasive dishonesty is near the top of the list.
- Obama’s Oily Pipeline Lies (papundits.wordpress.com)
- U.S. Oil Production Increases In Spite of Team Obama’s Best Efforts (pjmedia.com)
- President Obama’s Domestic Energy State Of Delusion (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Obama’s Oil Tycoon Tour (whitehouse12.com)
- Critics Hit Obama’s Energy Move (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Obama’s Words Don’t Match with Action on Oil and Gas (mb50.wordpress.com)
Today President Barack Obama, along with his royally expensive Air Force One entourage, landed in Cushing, Oklahoma–the nation’s oil and gas pipeline capital–for another non-public mainstream media event, designed to stifle the public fury over skyrocketing gasoline prices.
The president once again exclaimed his standard slate of “Obama Lies;” specifically, the U.S. must always rely on foreign oil, because we only have 2% of the world’s oil reserves, but we use 20% of the world’s oil production–therefore, no amount of increase in domestic production can lower the price of gasoline.
“It’s accurate but extremely misleading,” says Dan Kish of [the] Institute for Energy Research, which is supported by the industry. “What he is talking about is oil we already have found,” according to Jim Angle’s excellent FOXNews article yesterday.
Kish argues that it is at least very misleading, because Obama is referring to “proven” reserves of some 21 billion barrels.
However, analysts point out that so-called “proven reserves” were pegged at 20 billion barrels back in 1944. Interestingly enough, since then, the U.S. has extracted about 170 billion barrels–but we still only show 20 billion barrels of “proven reserves” on the books.
The Obama Administration is already famous for double-counting 500 billion Obamacare bucks.
One federal agency says there’s 10 times more — 219 billion barrels of “technically recoverable” energy [sic].
Author’s note: For purposes of accuracy and the elimination of political and environmental “fashion-speak” in this context, only oil volume is measured in barrels–not “Energy.” There is no such recognized thing as a “barrel of energy.” Further, in this context, [usable] “energy” is produced by some form of [combustion] “engine” via the consumption petroleum byproducts, refined from barrels of oil.
Another agency in the Energy Department says there’s 20 times that much–400 billion barrels; while some in the oil and gas industry claim there’s 60 times that amount–1.4 trillion barrels in untapped resources.
That’s energy the government knows we have but that has not yet been drilled for; and, industry experts argue it’s there for the taking.
“The trillion-plus barrels of oil in this country, more oil than in Saudi Arabia, is not counted by the president, and I think that’s misleading the American people,” John Hofmeister, the former CEO of Shell Oil, said.
With those kinds of resources, the U.S. could continue at its current consumption rate for 200 years without any imports, Kish of IER said. “And add Canada and Mexico? The numbers go off the chart.”
Another favorite Obama lie is … “As much as we’re doing to increase oil production–we’re not going to be able to just drill our way out of the problem of high gas prices.”
“Some of us believe that the president is trying to suggest that we don’t have adequate resource[s] here in the United States, which is just not true,” says Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, another industry group.
In fact, one industry analyst says [that] by tapping American oil along with Canadian resources and renewable energy, the U.S. could be self sufficient in just 12 years.
Nonetheless, the Obama lies continued, with the president taking credit for approving the “fast-tracking” of the Oklahoma-to-Texas [last] leg of the Keystone XL pipeline–even though he will not, and has not, had anything to do with it–whatsoever.
- Yeah, about those Obama lies about energy reserves (thedaleygator.wordpress.com)
- Are Obama’s Oil Numbers Rigged? (foxnews.com)
- President Obama’s Energy Lies (inquisitr.com)
- Is Obama telling the truth about U.S. oil reserves? (winteryknight.wordpress.com)
- Exposing the 2 percent oil reserves mythInstitute for Energy Research (appliedagrotech.net)
- Big Lies on Big Oil (gompsparky.wordpress.com)
- No Permit, No Drilling, The Soft Spot (tarpon.wordpress.com)
- Obama said ready to push partial Keystone XL approval (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Exposing the 2 percent oil reserves mythInstitute for Energy Research (mb50.wordpress.com)
By JOHN MERLINE, INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY
Posted 03/14/2012 01:03 PM ET
When he was running for the Oval Office four years ago amid $4-a-gallon gasoline prices, then-Sen. Barack Obama dismissed the idea of expanded oil production as a way to relieve the pain at the pump.
“Even if you opened up every square inch of our land and our coasts to drilling,” he said. “America still has only 3% of the world’s oil reserves.” Which meant, he said, that the U.S. couldn’t affect global oil prices.
It’s the same rhetoric President Obama is using now, as gas prices hit $4 again, except now he puts the figure at 2%.
“With only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices,” he said. “Not when we consume 20% of the world’s oil.”
The claim makes it appear as though the U.S. is an oil-barren nation, perpetually dependent on foreign oil and high prices unless we can cut our own use and develop alternative energy sources like algae.
U.S. Awash In Oil
But the figure Obama uses — proved oil reserves — vastly undercounts how much oil the U.S. actually contains. In fact, far from being oil-poor, the country is awash in vast quantities — enough to meet all the country’s oil needs for hundreds of years.
The U.S. has 22.3 billion barrels of proved reserves, a little less than 2% of the entire world’s proved reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration. But as the EIA explains, proved reserves “are a small subset of recoverable resources,” because they only count oil that companies are currently drilling for in existing fields.
When you look at the whole picture, it turns out that there are vast supplies of oil in the U.S., according to various government reports. Among them:
At least 86 billion barrels of oil in the Outer Continental Shelf yet to be discovered, according to the government’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
About 24 billion barrels in shale deposits in the lower 48 states, according to EIA.
Up to 2 billion barrels of oil in shale deposits in Alaska’s North Slope, says the U.S. Geological Survey.
Up to 12 billion barrels in ANWR, according to the USGS.
As much as 19 billion barrels in the Utah tar sands, according to the Bureau of Land Management.
Then, there’s the massive Green River Formation in Wyoming, which according to the USGS contains a stunning 1.4 trillion barrels of oil shale — a type of oil released from sedimentary rock after it’s heated.
A separate Rand Corp. study found that about 800 billion barrels of oil shale in Wyoming and neighboring states is “technically recoverable,” which means it could be extracted using existing technology. That’s more than triple the known reserves in Saudi Arabia.
All told, the U.S. has access to 400 billion barrels of crude that could be recovered using existing drilling technologies, according to a 2006 Energy Department report.
When you include oil shale, the U.S. has 1.4 trillion barrels of technically recoverable oil, according to the Institute for Energy Research, enough to meet all U.S. oil needs for about the next 200 years, without any imports.
And even this number could be low, since such estimates tend to go up over time.
Back in 1995, for example, the USGS figured there were 151 million barrels of oil in North Dakota’s Bakken formation. In 2008, it upped that estimate to 3 billion barrels to 4.3 billion barrels — a 25-fold increase. Now, some oil analysts say there could be as much as 20 billion barrels there.
To be sure, energy companies couldn’t profitably recover all this oil — even at today’s prices — and what they could wouldn’t make it to market for years. But from the industry’s perspective, the real problem with domestic oil is that the government has roped off most of these supplies.
The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, for example, put a huge swatch of land off-limits to drilling. And in 1982, Congress blocked access to most of the oil in the Outer Continental Shelf. Much of the oil on federal lands is also off-limits.
Obama and others say the industry’s claim about lack of access isn’t true, since they aren’t even using many of the offshore leases they already have. The industry counters that this is misleading, since a company needs the lease before it can determine if any oil exists there — a potentially time-consuming process.
In any case, any attempt to get at these vast new oil supplies is sure to face fierce opposition from environmental groups worried about oil production’s direct impact on the environment, as well as global warming worries.
But given today’s prices, most of the public is willing to expand drilling offshore, in ANWR, and in shale oil reserves, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll.
“This is not a geological problem — it’s a political problem,” said Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research. “We’ve embargoed our own supplies.”
- Energy: Texas Tops Finds From Brazil to Bakken as Best Prospect (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Are Obama’s Oil Numbers Rigged? (foxnews.com)
- Exposing the 2 percent oil reserves mythInstitute for Energy Research (mb50.wordpress.com)
- The US Is Sitting On A 200-Year Supply Of Oil (businessinsider.com)
- Obama Misleads on Oil Reserves, Networks Defend Him, Fail to Fact Check (newsbusters.org)