Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 31, 2014

Posts in "Oil"

October 30, 2014

Moniz Talks ‘War on Coal’ and Energy Investment

moniz 475 240x243 Moniz Talks War on Coal and Energy Investment

Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz. (


Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz was on hand to discuss energy policy on day two of the Ideas Forum hosted by the Aspen Institute and the Atlantic. He was asked a range of questions from his thoughts on tax reform to what’s necessary to get better energy infrastructure investment in the United States.

But first, almost immediately after taking his seat, Moniz was asked “What’s the harm in doing Keystone?” And almost just as immediately he deferred to Secretary of State John Kerry, who was the previous guest on stage, and whose State Department has jurisdiction over construction of the pipeline.

Only 30 seconds in and we had our first artful dodge.

Next, the moderator turned to tax reform and how it would affect the incentives for energy investment embedded in the current tax code. Specifically he wanted to know “Is there a cost to not using tax credits and tax policy as an incentive for behavior?”  Moniz expressed his support for energy tax credits, particularly the ones involving renewable energy. “We need to extend those renewable tax credits and do it in a way where there is predictably on all sides.” He added that without predictability it’s difficult for both firms and customers to make sound financial decisions.

When the topic turned to energy infrastructure investment, Moniz stressed that there was no issue with the current level of investment. However, the direction of investment dollars should be shifted. He specifically noted the lack of natural gas in New England, propane in the midwest, or the fact the we are using rail to transport oil.

Finally, when asked about Republican charges of a “War on Coal.” He reiterated that he takes an “all of the above” approach to energy policy before adding: “Make no bones about it. There is a fundamental commitment, it starts with the president, on moving toward a low carbon future.”

October 29, 2014

T. Boone Pickens Defends Energy Industry, Fracking

pickens 03 072208 240x184 T. Boone Pickens Defends Energy Industry, Fracking

T. Boone Pickens, founder and CEO of BP Capital Management, arrives for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on “Energy Security: An American Imperative.” Copyright © 2008 Roll Call Photos

Today, during an interview at the Washington Ideas Forum, billionaire oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens was in a playful mood as he discussed energy policy, ranging from oil imports to fracking.

After cracking several jokes about his age, the 86-year-old chairman of BP Capital Management was asked if the U.S. had anything to worry about given the fall of U.S. oil imports, the decrease in oil prices and the cresting of OPEC’s power.

“It’s good news. Remember OPEC peaked. We imported from OPEC over 7 million barrels [per day]. Today, 3.2 [million per day]… No, I don’t see anything to be worried about as to what’s taken place. We are regaining our independence is what it is.”

When pressed on whether the U.S. should be concerned about the effects of low oil prices on the production of non-oil fuels like natural gas, he dismissed the fear as a “high class problem.” He then added that the only way to have an input on gasoline prices is to introduce a new fuel option. He believes that natural gas will replace gasoline and  diesel though he would like it to happen on a faster timetable. Pickens then said that if he can get natural gas into 18-wheelers he can wipe out OPEC, referring to the cartel as “the worst thing to happen to our country” and that while right now, we only import 3.2 million bpd, we are using twice as much oil everyday as the second largest consumer, China.

He then lamented the lack of leadership around energy policy in Washington and called for a North American energy alliance between the U.S., Canada and Mexico that could tell the rest of the world to “forget it, we have independence in North America. That’s it.”

Pickens also had some thoughts on the role his industry plays in the American economy.

“The natural gas and oil industry in the United States has done an unbelievable job for America,” he said. After loud enthusiastic clapping from one man several rows below me, he added “They didn’t do it for America. I can tell ya that.” The room erupted in laughter… “You’re out there because you’re trying to make money is what you’re trying to do. Now is that good for America? Of course it is, because of jobs and taxes. But in the mean time, what’d it do for America? It got our independence from OPEC.”

The topic then turned to fracking.

Pickens was unequivocal. “I’d like to dismiss this in 30 seconds. There’s not a problem with fracking.” He then said opponents could not think of one instance of fracking damaging anything.  He also accused fracking opponents of being global warming hypers merely spoiling for a fight. This claim did not go over so well with the audience.

The moderator quickly moved on to another subject.


October 27, 2014

The Week Ahead: Natural Gas & Clean Coal in China

Here’s what’s on tap for the week.


NRG President and CEO David Crane, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz, and BP Capital Management Chairman T. Boone Pickens will be speaking at the Aspen Ideas Forum hosted by the Atlantic along with the Aspen Institute. The event will take place over two days at the Harman Center for the Arts.

Kevin C. Ramnarine, minister of Energy & Energy Affairs for Trinidad and Tobago, will take part in a discussion hosted by the Natural Gas Roundtable. The discussion will center on natural gas and energy security in Trinidad and Tobago and the Americas and will be held at the University Club.

The Brookings Institute will host the International Energy Agency’s Chief Economist Fatih Birol for the U.S. launch of the IEA’s Africa Energy Outlook report.

The U.S. Energy Association will host a forum that looks at clean coal in China featuring Dr. Ren Xiangkun. Ren will discuss clean coal technology being developed by his company.


The Florida Chapter of the Air and Waste Management Association will hold a forum at its annual conference in Jacksonville on Wednesday and Thursday.  The panel will discuss guidelines for CO2 emissions from existing utility units.


The U.S. Energy Association will host a forum on subsurface technology and engineering for energy applications such as oil and gas, carbon storage, geothermal and waste disposal.

Hans Bruyninckx, the executive director of the European Environment Agency, will discuss Europe’s 2050 agenda and event put on by the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program.


The Wilson Center will host a panel discussion that examines the economic and political impact of low oil prices on countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Nigeria and Venezuela.

October 24, 2014

Market Demand For Frac Sand On The Rise

As fracking continues to grow in popularity, so to has the demand for one of the most important elements involved in the process: Proppant. Yes, according to a ProppantIQ report released by PacWest Partners, demand in the North American market for proppant is expected to grow by 23 percent per year through 2016. This growth is largely a factor of increasing demand for frac sand, a popular proppant.

Although demand is on the rise, customers should expect higher prices as supply has not kept up. Supply growth, while strong, is only expected to increase by 18 percent in capacity per year.

October 22, 2014

Energy Ads Intensify As Senate Campaigns Heat Up

LAPOL14 312 092214 240x159 Energy Ads Intensify As Senate Campaigns Heat Up

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., right, answers questions from the local media during her event to exchange endorsements with Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., left, in Baton Rouge, La., surrounded by local elected officials on Sept. 22, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With just under two weeks until an election in which control of the U.S. Senate is up for grabs, campaign ads are starting to intensify — in volume and rhetoric — in several key battleground states (Louisiana, Alaska, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Colorado and Michigan). Somewhat surprisingly, energy and environment are the third most mentioned issue in Senate races this cycle (surprising since it barely registered during the 2012 presidential campaign). Some are running because the states they air in are significant energy producers. Others are running in states that feature environmentally conscious electorates.

The ads tend to focus on coal, oil, green energy and climate change. It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that West Virginia and Kentucky are leading the way in coal-related ads with both states featuring pro-coal positions in 87 percent of their energy-related ads. Also unsurprisingly, 39 percent of Iowa’s energy ads are anti-oil while 40 percent focus on green energy (likely, due to ethanol).

It’s also notable that both Democrats and Republicans are finding politically advantageous ways to deploy these energy ads. For instance, in blue states, Democrats are attacking Republicans for denying climate change and accepting money from the Koch brothers. And in red states, Republicans look to tie President Obama’s new environmental regulations around the necks of their opponents.


October 21, 2014

Would American Crude Oil Exports Hurt Putin?

Over the last month or so the chorus supporting the lifting of the decades-old American crude oil export ban has grown increasingly louder.

For years, exporters have argued for lifting the ban, motivated by the promise of more profits. But lately their argument has gained a bit more traction due to increased tension with Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to exporters, not only would lifting the ban be good for business, but it could provide the United States with a geopolitical “win” as well. Russia, whose economy relies heavily on oil and gas exports, could take a significant hit due to falling international prices.

There is already evidence that increased U.S. oil production and economic sanctions are having a negative impact on Russia, shaving a predicted 1-1.5 percent off the country’s GDP. And just yesterday CQ reported (subscription required) on a GAO study that claims lifting the ban would cause domestic fuel prices to drop, encouraging further domestic oil production.

But some argue that due to the elastic nature of oil supply, in the long term, American oil exports won’t have much of an impact on Russia exports. However, it’s the potential of expansion of the current U.S. oil production boom that should have Putin worried.

By Clyde McGrady Posted at 5:08 p.m.

Are High Gas Prices Already A Thing Of The Past?

dw09070800141 240x165 Are High Gas Prices Already A Thing Of The Past?

Energy investor T. Boone Pickens speaks at a press conference promoting natural gas as an energy source. (Photo by Ryan Kelly/Congressional Quarterly)

In large parts of the country gas prices are just below $3 per gallon. And in an interview conducted on Monday at the Concordia Summit in New York City, T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire oil tycoon, was asked whether he thinks these prices are here to stay.

Pickens first noted the counter intuitive nature of the oil price drop given the recent unrest in the Middle East and the fact that just six years ago consumers were paying around $4 and $5 per gallon at the pump. When asked for the explanation, he pointed to the uptick in U.S. oil production.

“The United States has changed the whole landscape for oil, I’m talking about globally. We’re using more oil, we’re using 92 million barrels in the world every day, and that’s the most oil that we’ve ever used in the world,” he said. “So, oil demand is going up, and, by golly, oil supply  — the additions that have been added to it — come from the United States.”

But according to Pickens, the future of long-term oil prices is directly tied to natural gas and its use in American automobiles.

“Today, if you went out and shopped for a natural gas passenger car, you know what you see? One Honda GX Civic and you can get the Ford F-150 pickup,” he said, adding: “If we were in Paris, France, tonight, and we were going down to shop for a passenger car, you’d see 40 that you could buy.”

But although he thinks the United States will eventually head toward natural gas cars, he refused to predict when, noting that his past market predictions feature “good direction [but] questionable timing.”

October 17, 2014

ICYMI: Oil Slides, CO2 Talk & Yucca Echoes

Down, down, down was the way oil looked this week, with the global benchmark Brent crude dropping 27 percent from July before rebounding slightly Thursday. Full story

October 16, 2014

Asian Refinery Upgrades Contribute to Light Oil Glut

Recent refinery upgrades in China and India have given those countries more flexibility in choosing imports and diminished demand for light crude on the global market, which has dropped a quarter of its value in the past three months. Full story

October 15, 2014

Cheap Oil, Sanctions Impact Russia

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country may cut budget spending because of falling crude prices, the government news agency TASS reported Tuesday. Full story

October 14, 2014

Global Oil Supply Showdown

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(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Well, we’ve validated a basic theory of economics once again. Rising supplies led by U.S. shale production and resurgence in Libyan oil output coupled with less than expected demand have sent oil prices tumbling – setting up a faceoff within OPEC and between the group and U.S. shale investors. Full story

The Week Ahead: Russia, Solar, Gas, Carbon and Coal

A little bit of everything is happening this week, and much of it takes place Tuesday. Full story

October 10, 2014

Methane Hotspot Associated with Hydrofracked Coalbeds

satellite methane signal averages 445x234 Methane Hotspot Associated with Hydrofracked Coalbeds

(NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan)

An area in the Southwest accounted for the nation’s largest concentration of methane emissions during a period before 2010, researchers at NASA and the University of Michigan announced Thursday. Full story

ICYMI: Oil Slides, Export Reviews & Winter Outlook

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Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 330 points on energy sales.
(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Oil prices dropped this week, leading to an energy sell off Thursday and the year’s biggest drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Lower oil prices could lead companies to curtail shale development. Full story

October 9, 2014

Falling Oil Prices Could Cut Shale Production

174775721 445x296 Falling Oil Prices Could Cut Shale Production

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

For years the price of oil has been controlled by OPEC, which would simply throttle down the flow to decrease supply and maintain prices. The free market analogous process in U.S. shale oil production would likely kick in if oil prices continue their decline and fall another 20 percent or so, Fitch Ratings said Wednesday. Full story

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