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White House consults experts on tapping oil reserve

White House consults experts on tapping oil reserve – Upstreamonline.com.

The Obama Oil Embargo

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David Kreutzer, Ph.D.
April 18, 2012 at 6:46 am

From canceling oil leases in his second week in office to denying the XL Pipeline this year President Obama and his administration have offered up a non-stop assault on affordable energy.  Now that high gasoline prices have come home to roost, the president is flailing around for an energy policy.

His recent attempts at energy policy include:

  • Nobody can do anything about high gasoline prices.
  • Maybe I should release crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
  • There is a lot of drilling that I haven’t been able to stop.  Don’t I get credit for that?

The latest attempt is to blame everything on speculators.  And why not?  Previous polling shows that 80 percent of Americans believe petroleum price spikes are caused by speculation, which means no more than 20 percent believe it is caused by the fundamentals of supply and demand.

There are several flaws in “the speculators did it” theory.  The first is why do they only do it occasionally?  That is, why don’t speculators want to make unconscionable profits all the time?

Second, why do the index funds and all the other bad guys only speculate in oil?  Where are the profiteering speculators in natural gas, whose current price is about half of what it averaged over the last decade?

Third, there are sophisticated traders on both sides of the petroleum markets.  For every speculator who makes money on a trade, somebody else will lose money.  Blaming speculators on continued price increases requires an endless string of chumps to take the other side of the speculators’ deals.  If anybody should be the chumps, it should be the newbies from the insurance industry and hedge funds, but they are at the top of the most-wanted list.

Finally, for speculation to drive up prices, the speculators must either cause oil production to slow down (which they haven’t) or to pull oil off the market.  If the flow of petroleum and its products remains unchanged, the price at the pump will not change.  If petroleum is pulled off the market, which can happen even though there are limits to what can be stored, it will eventually come back on the market.  And the question becomes, “When the oil comes back on the market, is the price higher or lower than when it was pulled off the market?”  The price will only be higher if the amount supplied at that time is lower or the demand is higher.  In either of those cases, speculators have helped moderate price fluctuations and will be rewarded with profits.  If the price is lower, then the speculators did a bad thing and will be punished by losing money.

The real problem is that combating high gasoline prices requires a greater supply, and this administration’s policies have pushed the other way.  It seems the administration does not really want lower gasoline prices.  Steven Chu, Obama’s non-car-owning Secretary of Energy, famously said we need to get our gasoline prices up to the $8-$10/gallon level they are in Europe.

imageUnfortunately for the president, the voters want more gasoline and lower prices.  So, in the time-honored Washington tradition, he creates a boogeyman and blames his energy failures on speculators.

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Obama officials rip into GOP gasoline bills

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Posted on March 28, 2012 at 9:22 am
by Puneet Kollipara

Obama administration officials ripped into GOP proposals to tie Strategic Petroleum Reserve releases to increases in federal oil and gas land leases and to require new analysis of the economic impacts of several gasoline-related environmental regulations.

A new GOP bill would require a new interagency panel to analyse how certain future Environmental Protection Agency rules might impact gasoline prices and jobs, but an EPA official said the bill wouldn’t reduce prices at the pump and could threaten Clean Air Act health protections.

The Gasoline Regulations Act targets a number of looming EPA regulations, including one for cutting sulfur in fuel by two-thirds, U.S. ozone standards and refinery emissions standards.

Gina McCarthy, an EPA assistant administrator, said in written testimony that the bill appears to use high gas prices as the reason to rollback public health protections, but those protections have little to do with gasoline prices. The bill would also duplicate analysis that is already done by officials.

“This legislation also delays — indefinitely — rules that EPA has not even proposed,” McCarthy said. “In short, this legislation does not address the reasons for the recent increase in the price of gasoline, while rolling back core aspects of the Clean Air Act — which was passed on a bipartisan basis and signed by a Republican president.”

Gasoline prices have steadily become a growing political point as prices rise near the $4 mark for the first time since 2008. The national average hit $3.91 Wednesday, a rise of 2 cents, according to the AAA gas gauge. Houston drivers are paying $3.87, or 9 cents below the record-high price of $3.96 in July 2008.

As prices have risen, the Obama administration has touted an “all-of-the-above” energy plan that officials say is the best long-term solution to the rising energy costs. Republicans, however, have argued the administration should remove unnecessary regulations and spur domestic drilling.

Republicans have also recently proposed that a 1 percent increase in federal lands leased for oil and gas production be required for every percentage point drawdown in oil from the strategic reserve, a 700-million-barrel stockpile on the Gulf Coast for emergency supply disruptions.

That proposal also came under fire by Obama administration officials.

Deputy Assistant Energy Secretary Chris Smith said in written testimony that the Strategic Energy Production Act would make it more difficult for to respond promptly to supply interruptions in crude oil. He argued that the bill would also make release from the strategic reserve more dependent on actions of potential lessees.

“It would also limit DOE’s ability to manage the SPR on a day to day basis, in which releases occasionally are necessary for the routine maintenance and operation of the reserve,” Smith added.

Republicans are proposing the legislation in seeking to position themselves against Democrats and the White House on oil and gas policy, which has surged to the forefront of political debate in the wake of higher gasoline prices. GOP lawmakers insisted Wednesday their legislation would increase oil supplies and decrease refining costs, helping put downward pressure on gasoline prices.

Democrats have called for cracking down on what they view as excessive speculation in oil markets and urged the White House to consider releasing oil from the strategic reserve.

But analysts have repeatedly said policymakers have few, if any, short-term tools to address gasoline prices, which are tied to oil prices set on global markets.

James Burkhard, managing director at IHS CERA, a research firm, said in written testimony said the current run-up in oil prices, the biggest determinant of what consumers pay at the pump, stems from geopolitics, specifically from uncertainty linked to the Iranian nuclear issue.

Analysts have said increased U.S. drilling would take years to kick in and would have, at best, a fractional impact on oil prices. They also have said the strategic reserve is intended for use only during supply emergencies, not as a price-smoothing tool as some Democrats have advocated.

Obama has ripped into GOP proposals to expand drilling into new waters and lands as an election-year “bumper sticker” that wouldn’t reduce gasoline prices. He has touted an “all-of-the-above” strategy of more oil, gas, renewable energy and fuel-efficiency boosts to cut oil use as a long-term strategy for U.S. energy independence.

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Analysis: Global oil outages at 1.2 million bpd in March: survey

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By Ikuko Kurahone
LONDON | Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:16am EDT

(Reuters) – Global oil supply outages are running at more than a million barrels a day, a Reuters survey has found, helping provide justification for the United States and Britain should they release strategic reserves in a bid to cut oil prices.

Civil unrest, adverse weather and technical glitches disrupted 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of global oil output in March on the 90 million bpd world market, according to a Reuters calculation from information provided by companies, government agencies and traders.

While disruptions of supply to the world oil market are commonplace, it is rare and perhaps unprecedented that such a large volume of oil is offline at any one time outside a single major disruption.

The aggregate reduction now is close to the volume of exports lost from Libya during civil war last year which at its worst knocked out 1.4 million barrels a day.

The International Energy Agency opened emergency reserves for only the third time last year to cover that loss but is resisting doing so again, arguing that it does not see a significant supply disruption.

The United States and Britain were reported by Reuters last week to be planning a bilateral release. South Korea would support a release, a government source said, but has not yet had an approach to do so. Others including Germany and France are opposed to an increase. “I think it’s pretty clear from the administration’s references to Sudan’s and other outages that if it decides to use the SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) it will justify it partly on various recent disruptions,” said a former White House energy advisor, Bob McNally, who heads consultancy Rapidan Group.

Leading oil exporter Saudi Arabia has raised its own output to 9.85 million bpd in February, according to a Reuters survey, but is the only producer with significant spare output capacity to counter serious shortfalls.

Some of the current outages could ease in April, when output from Canadian and Australian oilfields is expected to resume after temporary shutdowns. In addition, Libyan output is fast rising toward pre-war levels.

Supplies from politically volatile producers Syria, Yemen and South Sudan may remain disrupted for a prolonged period. Sanctions against Iran could also offset any increase in output from other countries, tightening oil supply later this year.

“Australian productions are just about to come back after the cyclone,” said Seth Kleinman, analyst at Citigroup. “But you always want to bet on more supply outages than less. The situation in Sudan and South Sudan has shown no signs of improvement and the key to watch is oil loadings from Iran,” he said.

Cyclone Luna last week forced Woodside Petroleum (WPL.AX) and Apache (APA.N) to shut several oilfields in Australia. Woodside’s Enfield has already restarted.

With Apache’s Stag likely to follow soon, about 65,700 bpd of Australian oil and about 320,000 bpd of Canadian oil, which has been unexpectedly closed off, are likely to come back to the market in April.

Still, a larger chunk of about 710,000 bpd in South Sudan, Yemen and Syria remains shut and shows no sign of an early return.

Disruptions may grow as a European Union ban on Iranian crude takes effect on July 1 and as pressure increases on Asian importers to reduce oil purchases from Iran. EU countries late last year were importing about 700,000 bpd of Iranian crude.

The IEA estimates Iran’s oil exports could be curtailed by between 800,000 and 1 million bpd from the middle of this year.

Citi’s Kleinman said Nigeria should be kept on the watch list. Although there have not been any significant outages in March, Africa’s largest producer suffers from sabotage attacks to oil production facilities, which have forced oil majors such as Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) to suspend exports.

In the North Sea, the UK’s largest oilfield Buzzard has been experiencing sporadic technical glitches, which have reduced its output since last year.

Buzzard’s output fell to about 153,000 bpd earlier in March but recovered to a normal 200,000 bpd late last week.

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Following is the breakdown of global oil production outages by region and country as of mid-March.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA – 490,000 bpd

Syria – Export outage totals about 150,000 bpd. Syrian oil output has been severely reduced since last year and its exports suspended since September due to international sanctions.

Before the conflict, Syria exported about 150,000 bpd of mostly heavy Souedie crude.

Yemen – About 140,000 bpd of Yemen’s oil output has been reduced by months of political unrest over the last year. Output came to a near standstill in mid-February during a week-long worker strike at its largest oilfield.

Libya – Libya’s crude output as of late March was about 1.4 million bpd, or 200,000 bpd below the full production level of 1.6 million bpd before the 2011 civil war. An official with Libya’s National Oil Corporation said its exports are likely to increase to 1.4 million bpd in April, including some deliveries from tanks following some loading delays from March due to bad weather.

AFRICA – 350,000 bpd

South Sudan – South Sudan shut its crude oil output of roughly 350,000 bpd – about three quarters of the combined total from Sudan and South Sudan – in January after Sudan took some of the crude to make up for what Khartoum said were unpaid transit fees.

AMERICAS – 320,000 bpd

Canada – Oil output has been cut by about 320,000 bpd as production of Suncor Energy Inc’s (SU.TO) and Syncrude Canada has been cut by 220,000 bpd and 100,000 bpd, respectively, for unplanned outages. Both will be back online in April.

ASIA PACIFIC – 65,700 bpd

Australia – Cyclone Luna forced Apache (APA.N) and Woodside Petroleum (WPL.AX) to shut Stag, Enfield and North West Shelf oilfields last week. Woodside said on Monday it had restarted production at Enfield. After the restart, the production shut-ins total about 65,700 bpd. The figure includes the 8,800 bpd Stag field, which Apache said is expected to restart soon.

(Reporting by Ikuko Kurahone, Bruce Nicols in Houston, Scott Haggett in Calgary, Mica Rosenberg in Caracas, Rebekah Kebede in Perth and Florence Tan in Singapore, editing by Richard Mably)

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Analysis: Tapping oil from reserve may be trickier than ever

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By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON | Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:01pm EDT

(Reuters) – The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve is not quite as strategic as it used to be.

As President Barack Obama moves closer to an unprecedented second release of the U.S. emergency oil stockpile in a bid to bring down near-record fuel prices, experts say dramatic logistical upheavals in the U.S. oil market over the past year may now make such a move slower and more complicated.

Moving to tap the four giant Gulf Coast salt caverns that hold 700 million barrels of government-owned crude would still almost certainly knock global oil futures lower, delivering some relief at the pump for motorists and helping Obama in the November election if he can prevent gasoline from rising above $4 a gallon nationwide.

On Thursday, prices fell by as much as $3 a barrel after Reuters reported that Britain was set to agree to release stockpiles together with the United States later this year. UK officials said the timing and details of the release would be worked out prior to the summer, when prices often peak.

But the logistics of getting that crude oil to willing refiners are more complicated than ever.

The reversal of a major Texas-to-Oklahoma pipeline will lower the distribution capacity of the SPR’s largest cavern, according to John Shages, who oversaw the U.S. oil reserves during the Bush and Clinton administrations. A resurgence in domestic oil output and the potential closure of the East Coast’s biggest refinery is curtailing demand for crude.

There is little doubt that SPR oil would eventually find buyers, since it is basically auctioned to the higher bidder. But it may move more slowly than the government hopes.

“The logistical system in the United States is shifting,” said Guy Caruso, the former head of the Energy Information Administration. “That probably is going to cause SPR officials to rethink how that oil would be distributed especially in an extreme scenario.”

The mechanics of the release may prove almost as tricky for Obama as rallying international support for a second intervention in as many years, or fending off attacks from Republicans who will likely brand it as a pre-election gimmick.

ANOTHER ERA

The U.S. shale oil boom and rising imports of Canadian oil sands crude have transformed the U.S. energy landscape, with industry now scrambling to move a glut of oil from the center of the country down to the U.S. Gulf Coast — reversing historical trends that were the basis for the SPR’s original planning.

The nation’s emergency oil stockpile, created by Congress in the mid-1970s after the Arab oil embargo, was designed to transport oil primarily via pipeline from the Gulf to refineries in the area and to buyers further north.

“The fact that pipelines go south and not north is a major change,” says Edward Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup and a former energy expert at the State Department.

The Department of Energy says the SPR can distribute crude to 49 refineries with a capacity of more than 5 million barrels per day — about one-third the U.S. total — and five marine terminals. It is designed to be capable of releasing oil within two weeks of an order, and to sustain a rate of 1 million bpd for as long as a year and a half, enough to meet 5 percent of U.S. demand.

Today it can discharge oil at a maximum rate of 4.25 million bpd, just below its 4.4 million bpd design capacity, a department official said. The reduction was due to a damaged storage tank.

Industry analysts, however, are skeptical.

Morse says that the maximum rate now appears unachievable, and that logistical problems constrained the government’s release of 30 million barrels of oil last summer — its largest ever — in response to the disruption of Libyan oil supplies.

Oil from the reserves must compete with crude already being transported via pipeline or tanker, often on crowded waterways, so there may not be enough capacity in the system to immediately take in millions of additional barrels of oil.

The Energy Department released an average of 743,000 bpd last August.

The department said it conducts thorough assessments of commercial capabilities to move oil from the reserves on a routine basis and remains confident it could supply the market with 4.25 million bpd if needed.

Many analysts doubt that much would ever be needed at once.

“Absent a serious disruption of great magnitude, it is inconceivable that the U.S. would draw down its inventory of SPR at the maximum rate,” said Shages, who now runs his own firm, called Strategic Petroleum Consulting, LLC.

SEAWAY, PHILADELPHIA

Even so, the system now has less flexibility.

The move to reverse the flow of the 350,000 bpd Seaway Pipeline to move crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, where there is a glut, to Gulf Coast refineries will almost certainly hurt the distribution capability of the SPR’s Bryan Mound storage tank in Freeport, Texas, says Shages.

Bryan Mound is the largest of the four sites, capable of holding about a third of the SPR’s total crude. About 43 percent of last year’s release came from Bryan Mound, data show.

After operator Enterprise Products completes the process of reversing the line by June, it will be limited to shipping crude via two Gulf of Mexico terminals and a system of local pipelines into Houston area refineries.

But Bryan Mound will still be able to discharge crude at a rate of 1.25 million bpd, according to an energy department official.

“When the pipeline is reversed, the distribution capability of crude from the SPR site will still be nearly 25 percent more than the site’s maximum drawdown rate, ensuring more than sufficient distribution capability,” the official said.

The Capline from Louisiana to Illinois, the largest such south-to-north pipeline, in theory has plenty of spare capacity since it has been running at less than a quarter of its 1.2 million bpd — but that is because a glut of Canadian and North Dakota crude is already sating the big Midwest refiners.

Meanwhile Gulf Coast plants are filling up on growing output from the Eagle Ford shale in Texas, reducing import demand. Because most U.S. crude oil cannot legally be exported, SPR supplies will typically only displace seaborne imports.

U.S. crude oil imports into the Gulf Coast region, known as Padd 3, fell 8 percent last year to below 5 million bpd, the lowest level since the 1990s.

Last year, at least some of the crude released from the SPR traveled further afield, beyond the Gulf Coast.

Tesoro, whose only refineries are on the West Coast, bought 1.2 million barrels, while East Coast refiner Sunoco bought 1.4 million barrels. Obama issued 44 waivers to the Jones Act to allow companies to use non-U.S. tankers for shipments last year.

But the East Coast looks a less likely market this year. Sunoco is set to close its 335,000 bpd Philadelphia refinery before June if it does not find a buyer. That could cut the region’s capacity to less than 700,000 bpd.

Ultimately the rate of release means little if you cannot get the oil quickly to those who need it most, says Mark Routt, a senior oil market consultant at KBR Advanced Technologies.

“To say that you have this drawdown capability, but you’re putting oil in places it doesn’t need to go, isn’t really helpful to the market,” Routt said.

(Editing by Russell Blinch and Jonathan Leff)

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Obama, the politics of the SPR and energy (lack of) exploration!

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Graphic source: Hot Air  (click to enlarge)

For starters, what is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)?

The SPR was created in the United States after the Arab oil embargo that occurred between 1973 and 1974. It holds over 700 million gallons of crude oil and was initially to provide crude oil during any major supply interruption to the US.

Its mandate was expanded by Congress later to include potential release to address a severe spike in oil prices. It is in effect a national security tool for a president!

There is not however any legal rationale to tap the SPR for use as a political tool, which is what a release decision by President Obama at this point in time would seem to be.

If however some incident along the lines of Iran preventing shipments through the Strait of Hormuz were to occur, that would be an entirely different story.

Forgetting for a moment about the SPR, what about the reserves that the Obama administration has refused to tap?

It is an absolute truism that any release from the SPR designed to effect a decrease in crude oil prices would be a short-lived one at best as the country currently consumes over 18 million barrels a day. The last sale out of the SPR was 30 million barrels in 2011 or less than a two-day supply!image

Another even more important truism is provided by examining the graphic above.

This graphic shows that the moves made by this President, instead of lowering energy prices and boosting jobs and the economy, will instead have the effect of higher crude oil prices, less jobs and a slower economy.

It all makes one wonder, yet again, about some of the choices of this White House.

I think that it is fair to say that basically any way you slice it, for this President most if not all decisions are about politics and an administration doing whatever is necessary to try and get a 2nd-term in office.

A belief in letting the chips fall where they may as long as any political benefit may exist!

Finally, to provide some historical perspective about the use of the SPR consider:

SPR releases through time!

OIL SALES:

* June 2011 Libya war – Sold 30 million barrels.

* Sept 2005 Hurricane Katrina – Sold 11 million barrels.

* 1996-97 Nonemergency sales – Sold 28.1 million barrels (5.1 million in Weeks Island sale to pay for decommissioning of storage site and transfer of its oil; 12.8 million to reduce the federal budget deficit; 10.2 million to pay for the cost of operating the SPR).

* 1990-91 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait – Sold 21 million barrels (3.9 million in Oct 1990 test sale; 17.2 million in Jan 1991 drawdown ordered by president).

* Nov 1985 Test sale – Sold 967,000 barrels.

OIL LOANS:

* Sept 2008 – Loaned 5.4 million barrels of crude to five oil companies after hurricanes Gustav and Ike cut supplies.

* June 2006 – Loaned 750,000 barrels of sour crude to ConocoPhillips and Citgo after the Calcasieu Ship Channel closed and deliveries stopped to Louisiana refineries.

* Jan 2006 – Loaned 767,000 barrels of sour crude to Total Petrochemicals USA after the Sabine Neches ship channel closed and deliveries stopped to Texas refineries.

* Sept/Oct 2005 – Loaned 9.8 million barrels of sweet and sour crude after Hurricane Katrina disrupted Gulf of Mexico production and damaged terminals, pipelines and refineries.

* Sept 2004 – Loaned 5.4 million barrels of sweet crude due to disruptions in the Gulf of Mexico caused by Hurricane Ivan.

* Oct 2002 – Loaned 98,000 barrels to Shell’s Capline Pipeline to keep storage tanks full to withstand Hurricane Lili’s winds.

* Oct 2000 – Loaned 30 million barrels to boost winter heating oil supplies in the Northeast.

* Aug 2000 – Exchanged 2.8 million barrels of crude oil for 2 million barrels of heating oil to create Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve.

* June 2000 – Loaned 500,000 barrels each to Citgo and Conoco after the Calcasieu Ship Channel closed and blocked crude oil shipments to Louisiana refineries.

* Dec 1998 to Feb 2000 – Exchanged 11 million barrels of lower-quality heavy crude in SPR with Mexico’s PEMEX for 8.5 million barrels of higher-quality sweet crude more suitable for U.S. refineries.

* April 1996 – Loaned 900,000 barrels of SPR crude to ARCO after company’s pipeline to Cushing, Oklahoma, had blockage. (Source)

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Any jobs in the American Jobs Act?

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By RICHARD STEGEMEIER

Asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton reportedly said, “Because that’s where the money is.” The American Jobs Act, which calls for collecting $40 billion from oil companies over 10 years, sounds a lot like Willie Sutton. This bill will take about $400 from the average American family, rich or poor. But is there any truth in White House advertising that this Act will create jobs? The Solyndra bankruptcy wasted a half-billion taxpayer dollars and created no permanent jobs. The ethanol subsidy of about $5 billion per year is now recognized as misguided energy policy.

We can assume that administration officials are either appallingly ignorant of how the oil industry works or they are deliberately trying to increase the cost of gasoline to reduce demand. But the latter flies in the face of President Barack Obama’s decision this summer to release 30 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower the price of gasoline.

One purpose of the Act is to punish “Big Oil” over allegedly unfair tax breaks. There are several tax policy modifications that affect only oil companies. One is the partial repeal of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, which allowed a 9 percent tax deduction for companies that produce goods inside American borders. Oil companies were given only a 6 percent deduction, which under the Obama plan will drop to zero. In other words, there is a silent enticement for oil companies to invest in refineries, LNG plants and storage facilities abroad, say in Mexico or Canada.

Also repealed is the Percentage Depletion Allowance – again, only for oil and gas production. For coal and other minerals the 15 percent deduction from taxable income will continue. This will hurt only the little independents because big oil companies lost this deduction 36 years ago.

The third tax repeal will disallow oil drilling companies their Intangible Drilling Cost deductions (IDC’s). At least 75 percent of drilling costs are for consumables such as fuel, mud, cement, etc. But the new law will consider these expenses the same as machines that must be depreciated over many years thereby increasing current-year taxes. This will have a serious impact on small companies that drill 95 percent of all new wells in America. They are usually not rich and often rely on IDC’s to pay for the next well.

Original Article

White House advances its energy policy without help from polarized Congress

By Andrew Restuccia and Ben Geman – 08/11/11 05:11 PM ET

The White House is serving notice that, when it comes to energy policy, the president doesn’t always need Capitol Hill.

President Obama, during a speech Thursday in Holland, Mich., urged Congress to quickly pass a slew of bills on issues ranging from patent reform to trade deals. But one topic was conspicuously missing from his to-do list for lawmakers: energy legislation.

Obama instead touted steps his administration has taken without Congress, including the new vehicle-fuel economy standards announced in recent weeks.

“Think about it. That’s what we got done — and by the way, we didn’t go through Congress to do it,” Obama told workers at an advanced battery plant. “But we did use the tools of government — us working together — to help make it happen.”

The White House has positioned energy policy as a key component of the economic recovery, and in the run-up to the 2012 elections, Obama is highlighting steps his administration has taken at a time when Capitol Hill divisions create huge hurdles for energy bills.

The fuel-economy standards represent just one of several instances in which the White House has touted energy policy actions it can take without Congress.

In recent weeks and months, the administration has also released oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and announced a new interagency team to coordinate and streamline permitting for oil-and-gas projects in Alaska.

“In the wake of the debt-ceiling fiasco, the president is no doubt eager to demonstrate his ability to act independently of Congress, and specifically on an issue of concern to average Americans like gasoline prices,” said Paul Bledsoe, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center who often works on energy matters.

While Obama has called on Congress to pass energy bills and the White House says it’s working with the Senate, Obama is also seeking to seize control of the political narrative on energy by focusing on executive actions rather than legislative goals.

“I think the White House continues to believe that oil politics are very important to the economy and the next election, and they are determined to enact whatever policies they can, especially those that have a populist bent,” Bledsoe said.

The White House is working to catalogue the president’s energy policy achievements. Ahead of Obama’s speech Thursday, the White House circulated a list of recent administration actions on energy policy, arguing they will play a major role in “spurring economic growth, and creating high-quality domestic jobs in cutting-edge industries across America.”

The White House is also defending against friendly fire from environmental groups, which argue that Obama has not been aggressive enough when it comes to environmental policy.

Thursday on Air Force One, White House press secretary Jay Carney spotlighted a new Time magazine article praising Obama’s energy and environmental record and blasting liberals for “whining” about the things the president has been unable to accomplish.

Despite the intense partisanship in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday he hopes to make energy one of Democrats’ “signature issues” in the coming months. Energy, he said, will play a role in Senate Democrats’ jobs agenda. But Reid has offered few details on what such an energy plan might look like.

Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, said later Wednesday that the White House is working “directly” with Reid on his energy agenda.

On Thursday, Obama said he’s planning to roll out more proposals to boost the economy in the days ahead.

Original Article

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