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)
In a Senate speech, Senator Inhofe will draw attention to a little known video from 2010, which shows a top EPA official, Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz, using the vivid metaphor of crucifixion to explain EPA’s enforcement tactics for oil and gas producers. In this video Administrator Armendariz says:
Quote from video:
“But as I said, oil and gas is an enforcement priority, it’s one of seven, so we are going to spend a fair amount of time looking at oil and gas production. And I gave, I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting but I’ll go ahead and tell you what I said. It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. And so you make examples out of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent affect there. And, companies that are smart see that, they don’t want to play that game, and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up. And, that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people. So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, you go aggressively after them. And we do have some pretty effective enforcement tools. Compliance can get very high, very, very quickly. That’s what these companies respond to is both their public image but also financial pressure. So you put some financial pressure on a company, you get other people in that industry to clean up very quickly. So, that’s our general philosophy.”
- Coming Soon: A Controversial “Ruling” That Threatens Your Job AND the Economy (articles.mercola.com)
- EPA to slash air pollution from natural gas wells (newsok.com)
- Lisa Jackson’s EPA Goes Rogue (usnews.com)
- EPA: A Rogue Agency under a Rogue President (conservativesonfire.wordpress.com)
Oil and gas exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico will some day return to pre-BP spill levels, the president of Chevron North America Exploration and Production Company, Gary Luquette said Thursday.
But the rigorous permitting, safety and verification requirements imposed after the April 2010 BP disaster are here to stay, Gary Luquette said during an interview with The Daily Advertiser before the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce annual banquet, where he was keynote speaker.
“It’s a new normal,” Luquette said.
The industry hasn’t found its stride since the Deepwater Horizon platform operated by BP off the coast of Louisiana exploded and sunk, creating the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
That disaster, which killed 11 workers, led the federal government to impose a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling that was followed by more stringent permitting and safety regulations.
“I think activity levels can and will return to pre-Macondo (spill) levels,” he said. “The effort and rigor in getting permits approved won’t return.”
Luquette said that’s a good thing for Louisiana and the industry. The BP disaster tainted the entire industry.
Tighter permitting, regulations and oversight will help the industry rebuild public trust, he said.
The “new normal” may be too costly for some of the small independent companies to survive, Luquette said.
“In the end,” he said, “the standards are going up. It’s your responsibility to enact them.”
The Gulf of Mexico is still a major source of oil and natural gas and Chevron maintains a presence there, in deepwater and shallow water, said Luquette, a 1978 civil engineering graduate of UL Lafayette.
More than half of the company’s 2012 budget is allocated to Gulf of Mexico activity. Today, Chevron has 10 rigs operating in shallow water, he said.
Lafayette plays an important role in the industry with numerous supply and service companies operating here.
Chevron alone has 300 workers in its Lafayette office and another 300 or so working offshore out of the Lafayette office, Luquette said.
President Obama said last week in his State of the Union address that he wants to end “subsidies” to the oil and gas industry which makes billions of dollars in profits. Luquette said the energy industry creates jobs and creates wealth for the federal government.
In 2011, the oil and gas industry paid $86 million a day to the federal government in royalties, rents and tax revenue, he said. The industry also employs more than nine million either directly or indirectly.
The industry doesn’t need bailouts and such, just a level-playing field, the same so-called subsidies and breaks the federal government provides other U.S. industries and those from foreign nations, Luquette said.
- Drilling ban had ‘hidden victims’ (mb50.wordpress.com)
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on Friday, October 16, issued conditional approval of Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc.’s revised Exploration Plan under leases in the Chukchi Sea Planning Area. In its Exploration Plan, Shell proposes drilling up to six exploration wells in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea beginning in the 2012 drilling season.
This decision follows the bureau’s completion of a site-specific Environmental Assessment that examined the potential environmental effects of the plan. The conditions of approval require Shell to comply with a range of important safety and environmental protection measures.
BOEM’s conditional approval does not authorize Shell to commence exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea. Shell must satisfy the conditions of BOEM’s approval, as well as obtain approvals from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) regarding its Oil Spill Response Plan and well-specific applications for permit to drill.
“Our scientists and subject matter experts have carefully scrutinized Shell’s proposed activities,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “We will continue to work closely with agencies across the federal government to ensure that Shell complies with the conditions we have imposed on its Exploration Plan and all other applicable safety, environmental protection and emergency response standards.”
Shell acquired its leases in the Chukchi Sea in 2008 under Lease Sale 193, which BOEM recently reaffirmed after completing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. All of these leases are subject to a series of stipulated requirements to mitigate operational and environmental risks, and the conditions for approval of Shell’s Exploration Plan build on and expand those requirements.
Among the conditions of approval is a measure designed to mitigate the risk of an end-of-season oil spill by requiring Shell to leave sufficient time to implement cap and containment operations as well as significant clean-up before the onset of sea ice, in the event of a loss of well control. Given current technology and weather forecasting capabilities, Shell must cease drilling into zones capable of flowing liquid hydrocarbons 38 days before the first-date of ice encroachment over the drill site. Based on a 5-year analysis of historic weather patterns, BOEM anticipates November 1 as the earliest anticipated date of ice encroachment. The 38-day period would also provide a window for the drilling of a relief well, should one be required.
- Shell clears hurdle in bid to drill in Alaska (marketwatch.com)
- Conditional OK for Shell’s Alaska offshore oil plan (reuters.com)
- Shell Gets Nod to Drill in Arctic (mercurynews.com)
The recovery for oil and gas drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico remains slow this year. A study by Quest Offshore Resources shows that the number of active rigs in the Gulf is currently 37 percent less than before last year’s Deepwater Horizon disaster due to slow permitting and steep regulation.
Recent measures taken by the Obama Administration look to boost activity in the Gulf region. However the Administration’s plan falls far short of what the oil industry and its Congressional supporters demanded. The Bedford Report, a company that “provides Equity Reports that provide investors with short term and long-term growth opportunities, value, and strong potential returns”, examines the outlook for companies in the Oil and Gas sector and provides equity research on BP PLC and ATP Oil & Gas Corporation.
Last month the Obama Administration announced its proposed five year plan for offshore drilling, calling for opening new areas in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska but bars development along the East and West Coasts. “It will have an emphasis in the Gulf of Mexico,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “We see robust oil and gas development in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Besides the Gulf and the Alaska leases, the proposal includes a small portion in the eastern Gulf about 150 miles off the Florida coast. The rest of the eastern Gulf is off limits due to a congressional moratorium.
Last month BP announced that it received approval from the US Coast Guard’s on-scene coordinator for its shoreline cleanup operation plan roughly 18 months after the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico. Under the plan approved by the Coast Guard, BP will end active cleanup operations and focus on restoring the areas damaged by last year’s oil disaster. In October US regulators approved a plan by BP to resume offshore oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.
ATP Oil & Gas Corporation engages in the acquisition, development, and production of oil and natural gas properties in the Gulf of Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the Dutch sectors of the North Sea. Earlier this month the company announced that it sold its deep-rights interest in one of its Telemark Hub properties in the Gulf of Mexico. “ATP is eager to encourage exploration into deeper horizons at ATP’s Telemark Hub and in close proximity to ATP’s existing infrastructure, the ATP Titan,” said president Leland Tate.
- USA: Telemark, Clipper Results Excite ATP (mb50.wordpress.com)
- USA: EMAS Wins Gulf of Mexico Subsea Contract from BP (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Anadarko has Gulf of Mexico discovery (mb50.wordpress.com)
By Alan Caruba
America has been under attack since Barack Obama took the oath of office on January 20, 2009. The primary target has been the nation’s ability to generate energy for electricity and transportation, without which this nation will slide into Third World status and economic decline.
This appears to be the goal of this administration from the President to his Secretaries of Energy and Interior, to his Director of the Environmental Protection Agency. There is no other rational explanation for what they are doing.
We are days away from the latest Environmental Protection Agency assault in the form of the “MACT” rule allegedly to reduce mercury and other emissions that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says will reduce electricity generation in America by about 81 gigawatts in the years ahead. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial said “this could compromise the reliability of the electric system if as much as 8% of generating capacity is subtracted from the grid.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that eleven Governors have written the EPA to ask that it delay the final rule in November. Twenty-five state Attorneys Generals have filed suit “to lift a legal document known as a consent decree that the EPA is using as a fig leaf for its political goals.”
As but one example, in Illinois, Ameron announced the planned shutdown of its Meredosia and Hutsonville energy centers, The Meredosia center generates 369 megawatts. The Hutsonville center has a generating capacity of 151 megawatts.
The EPA, even before the Obama administration, has been using the 1970 Clean Air Act to bludgeon the nation’s ability to access the energy resources required to generate electricity, primarily coal that provides 50% of such generation, and oil that fuels our transportation capability.
In late October, James J. Mulva, the CEO of Conoco-Phillips, addressed the subject of the growing discoveries of natural gas being found throughout the nation. “More than 600,000 Americans already explore, produce, store and produce natural gas, according to consultancy IHS Global Insight.”
At least 15 states now produce shale gas and others may join them,” noting that the largest shale area, the Marcellus which covers much of the Northeast” “already supports 140,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone.”
The Obama administration, beginning with the president’s admitted goal of shutting down as much of the coal industry as possible, has demonstrated his intention of deterring the provision of energy. When the BP Oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, the administration imposed a moratorium on all drilling. The decreased production cost 360,000 barrels a day in addition to lost jobs related to oil drilling in the Gulf. Rigs that are needed to drill have since been moved to other sites around the world.
The U.S. is home to more than 150 billion barrels of conventional oil that has the capability of generating thousands of new jobs if access to it was permitted. The most immediate result has been the rise in the cost of gasoline at the pump. Two courts ordered that the moratorium be lifted.
Oil companies currently pay more than $30 billion a year in federal, state, and local taxes. Meanwhile the Obama administration has been wasting billions in loan guarantees to essentially useless solar and wind power companies, the latest of which, Solyandra, will cost taxpayers millions when the solar panel producer went belly-up. Others will follow.
Meanwhile, the President crisscrosses the nations demanding higher taxes on companies engaged in coal, oil and natural gas. When Jimmy Carter imposed a windfall tax on oil companies many ceased to explore for new sources here, moving their efforts to other nations. Today, by withholding the necessary permits to produce energy in Alaska, the Trans Alaska Pipeline System is operating at one third of its capacity.
A proposed pipeline from Canada still awaits approval and, on November 6th, led by the Sierra Club, the largest protest against its tar sands is expected to draw thousands to Washington, D.C. to join hands and circle the White House to ensure the Keystone XL pipeline is kept from providing the U.S. with the oil extracted. The proposed pipeline would reduce the U.S. dependence on Middle East oil. The U.S. already has more than 50,000 safely operating oil pipelines to support our transportation and other needs.
In January 2010, Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, warned that the Obama administration “continues to embrace Washington-dominated, command-and-control energy policies focused on mandates, subsidies, and political favors—not market forces.” He criticized “subsidizing one form of energy,” wind and solar, “while restricting the exploration of another,” warning that it “will lead to several measurable outcomes, increasing energy prices across the board, fewer jobs, and a weaker footing in the global economy..”
Nearly two years later, that warning has come true with a vengeance.
Oil, coal, or natural gas, it doesn’t matter to an administration and a president determined to restrict the amount of energy Americans need for their present and future needs. The result, in part, has been a stalled energy sector and a contributing factor in an economy with an estimated 20 million unemployed or under-employed.
The losses in income taxes and the taxes paid by this industry sector, in addition to the hideous borrowing and spending by the Obama administration is doing enormous harm to America and yet Barack Obama wants a second term in office.
Little wonder that Americans fear for the future of the nation.
- News analysis: Obama takes bipartisan heat on energy policy (energyindependenceforstates.com)
- Obama administration has bullseye on coal (junkscience.com)
- Daily Benefactor Columnists – The Solyndra Stonewall (Stephen Hayes) – More Op-Eds (thedaleygator.wordpress.com)
- Obama Administration Must Open ‘Energy Highways’ (usnews.com)
By Debbie Glover
St. Tammany News
Things are not much better for shallow water permits. While an average of 7.3 permits are being issued a month, about 14.7 permits per months were issued before the oil spill.
In addition, the number of days it is taking for a plan to be approved is now 115, compared to the historical average of 61 days. All deep-water plans that include any type of drilling activity must now undergo an environmental assessment process; for those plans requiring them in 2011, the average approval time is 235 days, significantly higher than the overall average approval time. Additionally, in 2011, 37 percent of plans submitted to BOEMRE are being approved, or about half of the historical 73.4 percent approval rate. At a St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce meeting earlier this year, Sam Giberga, senior vice president and general counsel of Hornbeck Offshore Service said the typical cost of a well is $120 million. The success rates of wells is about 15 percent. “You’ve got to drill a lot wells to get oil,” said Giberga.
“Companies are dying every day,” he said. “Each barrel of oil that is used has to be replaced and it is getting harder and more expensive to replace it.” Giberga said that from the first leasing of the territory to a working, producing drilling rig is about five years. Plans must be approved, testing and explorations are done long before the rig is built. Therefore, even though the statistics that are released show a permit has been issued, this does not mean a rig will suddenly appear and produce oil.
In fact, some of those permits that have been given since the moratorium was declared over last October are permits that are being re-issued from last year, not new wells that can drill that day and oil will flow. Since last October, only four drilling plans have been approved. There is a backlog of plans pending approval for both deepwater and shallow water in exploration and development.
With the new regulations that have been issued by the executive branch, new sources of conflict are arising because of environment assessments that are now required for all permits, spurring environmental groups for the first time regarding drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
There is a lot of confusion over the new regulations. “There exists now a cloud over the industry. Do we need to rebuild existing structure? What kinds of adjustment must be made? Other questions entering the minds of the industry are what’s coming into the future?” asked Giberga. When so much capital is needed prior to realizing any return, companies are asking if it’s worth it.
The lack of drilling is also affecting other industries. “Shutting down rigs has caused a ripple effect,” said Giberga. “There is a web of infrastructure that depends upon this industry, and if the assets leave, they won’t be coming back… There is a direct threat to companies and the country at large.”
Sadly, many states around the country still don’t understand the plight of the industry in the Gulf. For one thing, Giberga confirmed that it is true that other countries are drilling in areas of the Gulf not regulated by the United States. In other words, drills from Mexico, Venezeula and other countries can drill in other parts of the Gulf and could cause a spill due to lack of safety or poor decisions that would still effect the United States’ coastlines, not to mention the economy.
The affects of the new regulations on permits and plans and the long range energy economy will be seen for many years to come. Meanwhile, the permits are being approved—very slowly.
- Offshore Vessel Operators Suffer As Gulf Oil Output Sags (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Push for permits in Gulf of Mexico (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Obama’s obligation to free up Gulf oil (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Feds approve Murphy drilling project using Helix emergency equipment (mb50.wordpress.com)