The news about domestic energy production is getting better every day. Oil production is now at the highest level in 20 years and oil imports have fallen to the lowest level since 1987. Output from the Bakken Shale is the main driver. Pipeline construction can hardly keep up and rail shipments are becoming a major means of transport. The Energy Information Administration predicts output will surge another 25 percent in the next two years and there is talk of oil independence in the next decade. American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard, speaking in Washington, celebrated the progress and warned President Obama not to spoil the party with any more taxes or environmental regulations on the industry. Alex Hern, writing in the New Statesman, asks if fracking will lead to cheap oil for all?
Natural gas is also booming and the industry is pushing for exports to relieve the domestic glut. The Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions added a note of optimism with a report predicting that exports would not raise domestic prices too much – the industry still has ample spare capacity. A proposed LNG export terminal in Georgia is eagerly awaiting approval from the government but others are looking in a different direction. Marshall Kaplan, of the Fuel Freedom Foundation, argues that natural gas could be used to fuel America’s cars.
On the international level, much of the action these days seems to be in Africa. South Africa is eagerly awaiting the results as the major oil companies explore its offshore waters and Zawya, a publication in the Persian Gulf, says East Africa could soon be a giant. But Nigeria is findings its operations plagued by theft and disruptions and is looking for a way forward. Turkey has passed Norway in the number of offshore rigs in Europe but the Turks have been rejected in Iraq, which has decided to partner with Kuwait in exploring its own coastline.
And speaking of oil and pipelines, how’s that Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada coming? Well, the more the Obama Administration dallies, the more heated the controversy becomes. A new report from Queens University in Ontario says that oil sands operations in Alberta have been polluting nearby lakes. Green groups are pressing the administration in Washington and activist opponents have occupied TransCanada’s corporate headquarters in Houston. A Nebraska environmental report says there will be no problems, however, and Canadian editorials are telling the US it’s time to decide. One rumor even has it that Lisa Jackson quit the EPA because the Administration was about to approve the pipeline. But that may have been premature. It doesn’t look like there’ll be a decision any time soon.
Finally, renewable energy got a big boost as Google decided to invest $200 million in a wind farm in Texas. Has that PTC extension had an impact or what? EDF, the French electric company, is also dabbling in Texas wind with two new projects. Hope the grid can handle it all down there. The German company CAE is investing €100 million to build solar panels in Pakistan and Bulgaria is joining the parade by setting renewable targets just like everybody else. But in Maine people are starting to wonder if renewable energy isn’t driving up the price of electricity.