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State Regulators Hold The Key To U.S. Participation In A Global Oil Supply Deal

The energy media was filled with speculation on Friday and Saturday about how much higher crude prices might spike on Monday as OPEC and Russia prepared to hold an emergency conference call meeting that day. That speculation has now evaporated as the call has been postponed, now scheduled to take place on Thursday.

As the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, “Saudi Arabia and Russia have said privately they are unlikely to cut oil output unless North American producers join in.” While Canada has signaled its willingness to be a part of a larger, global approach to cutting supply, it is unclear how exactly officials from Russia and Saudi Arabia envision the United States joining the party.

I’ve written about this several times in the past, but it deserves repeating here: America is simply not like these other countries. It is called the “United States” for a reason. The federal government of the United States has no existing authority to just cause oil wells to be turned off and on at the snapping of a president’s fingers.

Yes, as we saw in the wake of the tragic Macondo blowout and spill in April, 2010, a president can declare an environmental emergency and cause all production to be shut in in the Gulf of Mexico. But beyond 3 miles of the coastline (roughly 12 miles offshore Texas) the Gulf of Mexico is a federal province. The order issued on May 27, 2010 by President Barack Obama to shut-in Gulf of Mexico production applied only in waters of 500 feet or more in depth, limiting it to areas safely within the federal province. In this way, he avoided challenges from state governors that would have certainly resulted had he attempted to shut down the entire Gulf, including all state waters.

This is what the United States calls “federalism,” and it is a concept that leaders in many other countries appear to have a very difficult time grasping. Given that the great preponderance of U.S. oil production comes mainly from beneath state and private lands, solving the conundrum of any U.S. participation in any global agreement to limit oil supply will necessarily involve participation from key state regulators.

In states like Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wyoming and New Mexico, which together are producing the preponderance of U.S. crude oil, regulatory bodies possess various authorities to limit production within their state borders. Those states combined to produce about 68% of the oil produced in the U.S. in January, the latest month for which the U.S. Energy Information has data. Another 15% was produced in federally-owned waters in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Pacific coast.

Thus, at least in theory, roughly 83% of U.S. oil production could be artificially limited by the federal government and state regulators on a coordinated basis. It is important to note that this kind of coordination is the only real way for the U.S. to become a meaningful part of any such deal.

Read The Rest at Forbes.com

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Democrats’ Climate Town Halls: A Direct Assault on Texas

Today’s Campaign Update, Part II
(Because The Campaign Never Ends)

“On my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that puts a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands. And I will ban fracking—everywhere.” – Elizabeth Warren

I was asked by a radio host this week for my initial takeaway from CNN’s 7-hour marathon of Democratic Climate Change talking points that aired on September 4. My response was the only thing that came into my head: God help us if any of these people wins the election.

By “us” I mean the oil and gas industry, in which I spent a 38-year career, and everyone in Texas, where I’ve lived my entire life. Because the reality of that 7 hours of talking points by 10 leading contenders for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination is that pretty much every idea advanced by the candidates was a direct assault on the industry’s continuing license to operate in the United States, and thus on the Texas economy.

The Texas economy has diversified significantly since the bad old days of the 1980s, when the oil bust collapsed the state’s savings and loan and banking industries and more Texans were out of work than anytime other than during the Great Depression. But despite that diversification, oil and gas still drives more economic growth here than any other business sector.

So, when you see every candidate on that stage – including Texans Julian Castro and Beto O’Rourke – call for the banning of “fracking,” you see a proposal that would throw the Texas economy immediately into a recession and toss tens of thousands of Texans out of work. When you see Kamala Harris and several others demonize the plastics industry, you see a direct attack on Texas, whose chemicals and plastics industry has boomed in the past decade, with hundreds of billions in new capital investments, thanks to cheap natural gas prices.

When you see Andrew Wang and others talk about banning internal combustion engines and forcing everyone to drive an electric vehicle, you see a direct attack on Texas, home to the nation’s largest refining industry. When you see Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden talk about the need to end the use of all fossil fuels in power generation, you see a direct attack on Texas, where natural gas powers more homes and businesses than all other fuel sources. Those attacks on natural gas are also attacks on the environment, given that U.S. carbon emissions have dropped to 1980s-levels in recent years thanks mainly to natural gas displacing coal in power generation.

The attacks on Texas and its economy were not limited to energy alone: Agriculture is the state’s second-most prevalent business. When you see Pete Buttigieg telling Americans that if they eat a hamburger, they’re part of the problem, you’re seeing a direct attack on Texas and its ranching industry.

When you see O’Rourke and others talk about the need to end “corporate farming,” you’re seeing a direct assault on Texas and its farmers, given that, when you look into the details of their various plans, you see that they all call for ending the use of diesel-fueled farm equipment like tractors and combines, not to mention all those Ford F-150s. That’s not just for “corporate” farmers, but for all farmers.

This stark reality, of course, is one of the main reasons why the Democratic National Committee denied requests from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and a few other candidates to hold a formal debate focused solely on Climate Change. The party’s leaders actually entertain the notion that Texas’s shifting demographics might give their presidential candidate a shot to win the state’s electoral votes in 2020. But they also know that, if Texans become educated on the realities of how the candidates’ various “solutions” would impact their daily lives, those chances will fade accordingly.

Those DNC concerns were well-founded, and CNN did the party no favors by airing those proposals in such great detail. In presidential politics, some promises are better left unmade.

That is all.

 

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever. Whatfinger.com is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time.

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The Oil and Gas Situation: Reviewing 6 Predictions

Today’s Energy Update
(Because Energy Fuels Our Lives)

As Q1 2019 comes to a close, it is time to review the status of some predictions I made here the day after Christmas for what we would see during the first half of 2019. Accurately gauging where the industry will be several months into the future is always a crap shoot, and as usual, I find myself feeling glad I didn’t go out and bet the farm on any of these.

First, let’s look at what I had to say about the domestic rig count as calculated by the folks at DrillingInfo:

…my first prediction is that we will see a gradual fall in the domestic U.S. rig count throughout the first half of 2019. Indeed, the DrillingInfo Daily Rig Count already fell by about 3% during December, from 1160 to 1120 on December 25. I’m betting that, by June 30, that measure will be below 1050…

This particular count finished the quarter at 1049, after falling slowly but steadily throughout the first three months of the year. This represents a 9% drop since Christmas day, and there is no real reason to expect this trend to change during the second quarter, with so many upstream companies prioritizing stock buybacks and other programs designed to return capital to investors and lenders over the mad rush to increase production we saw throughout 2017 and the first 8 months of 2018.

A reasonable updated guess would be that we will see the DrillingInfo count fall to right around 1000 by the time June 30 rolls around.

What about crude prices? Here’s what I predicted they would do in Q1:

…my second prediction is that the price for WTI will rise again, but will not exceed $60 during the first half of 2019.

As things turned out, I had the general direction of crude prices right, but underestimated how rapidly they would rise, as WTI closed at $60.14 in Friday’s trading. The basic market dynamics that advocated in December for what has been a 20% recovery in the WTI benchmark remain in place today. Global demand continues to rise more rapidly than all the experts thought it would at the first of the year, and the OPEC-plus nations still maintain pretty strong compliance with their export quotas.

 

Read the Rest Here

 

 

Follow me on Twitter at @GDBlackmon

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever. Whatfinger.com is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time.

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On This Earth Day, Thank Mother Earth for the Gift of Fossil Fuels

Today’s Campaign Update

(Because The Campaign Never Ends)

Today is Earth Day, and it is the perfect time to celebrate the natural resources like oil, natural gas and coal, which are gifts to humanity from Mother Earth herself.  These indispensable drivers of modern society will no doubt be demonized today amid all the frightful doom and gloom predictions that will be launched by environmental activists and repeated by various media outlets.

All the vitriol directed at these fossil fuels by the environmental community notwithstanding, it is a simple fact that our prosperous, modern, energy-hungry society was made possible by the existence of these fuels.  Without the discovery of and ability to produce fossil fuels, it is likely that mankind would still be mired in a primitive form of existence, reliant on burning wood for heat, horses for transportation, and still living largely in the dark after nightfall.

Without the miracle of the petroleum-fueled internal combustion engine, there would be no automobiles – or primitive ones at best – dirigibles would probably still be our main mode of air transportation, there would have been no space program to drive all the technological advancement of the second half of the 20th century.  Without those things, there would be no high tech industry to speak of, no Internet, and thus no ability to read what I’m writing here.

But what about wind, solar and nuclear?  The production of modern wind turbines, solar panels and nuclear power plants is extremely energy-intensive enterprises, and is by and large powered by the burning of fossil fuels.  In other words, without the massive energy levels generated by the fossil fuel chicken, the “green” energy eggs would not have been possible.  Few of those gigantic wind turbines you see dotting landscapes across America will, in their entire useful lifetime, generate as much power as was required to fabricate them, transport them to their locations, and erect them.

And on this particular day we should all be doubly thankful for the recent discovery of the means – hydraulic fracturing, combined with horizontal drilling – of producing oil and natural gas from shale rock formations.  Because while Europe continues to struggle with failing “cap and trade” carbon trading schemes that haven’t reduced that continent’s greenhouse gas emissions, those same emissions have been reduced in the US to pre-1994 levels through increased use of natural gas in the power generation sector.  Thus, while radicals in the “green” community have done everything they can to turn “fracking” into their cause du jour for limiting or banning, the product of their boogeyman has done more to clean the air through the free market than any of the myriad command and control regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

So on this 49th celebration of Earth Day, let’s all try to remember that one of the greatest gifts Mother Earth has ever given us is the fossil fuels that make such worldwide celebrations possible.

Meanwhile, as you will no doubt be assaulted all day today with all manner of frightful scenarios about our future environmental challenges, you might find it edifying to review similar pronouncements made by the environmental luminaries of the day at the inaugural Earth Day celebration:

“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, PakistanChina and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.” – Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”  – Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” — Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich

“Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born… [By 1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” — Paul Ehrlich

And my very favorite of them all:

“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’” – Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

Have a great Earth Day today.

Just another day in fossil-fueled America.

That is all.

Follow me on Twitter at @GDBlackmon

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever. Whatfinger.com is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time.

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Illinois Is Going Broke, But The ESG Movement Is Here To ‘Help’

Don’t look now, but the so-called ESG movement is now coming to Chicago.  As if the Windy City and State of Illinois didn’t already have enough problems to deal with, the Wall Street Journal reports that Chicago’s Treasurer, Kurt Simmons, who manages the city’s various pension funds, is now “seeking permission from the city council to use environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors to inform investment decisions.”

As I pointed out in early January, this approach to investing based on social issues rather than return on capital has worked so well in California and New York that it has played a significant role in pushing state and local retirement systems in those states to massive deficit situations.  As the Chicago Tribune recently reported,  Illinois’ “unfunded pension liability is growing faster than taxpayers’ ability to keep up. With about a quarter of general fund revenues going to the pension system, other priorities get crowded out.”

The current situation with unfunded pension liabilities has the Illinois legislature searching for increasingly radical solutions, such as forcing local communities to start sharing in the funding of teacher’ pensions.  Indeed, the state’s predicament is so dire that it has some speculating that Illinois could become the first state to actually declare bankruptcy.

Into this breach steps the ESG movement, with its demands that pension fund managers de-emphasize anticipated rates of return as their main investment priority, and instead begin making investment decisions based on an array of social issues that the ESG movement prefers.  Where Chicago’s public pension funds are concerned, doing this would create an entire new level of risk, as the funds have traditionally been conservatively invested in highly-rated government and corporate bonds.

For those who are unaware, the ESG movement is basically the second generation of what began as the “Divestment” movement.  That movement, pushed for the last decade by radical environmental activists like Bill McKibben, sought to convince cities, states, universities and pension fund managers to overtly divest any investments in fossil fuels stocks or other entities that the activists found to be objectionable.  That movement has suffered a long string of failures over the years, in places like VermontSan FranciscoSeattle, and The University of Colorado, as responsible fund managers chose to continue basing investment decisions on returns on capital rather than engaging in virtue signaling exercises.

 

Read The Rest Here

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The Best Energy Policy Is To Let Markets Work Freely

America’s ongoing oil and natural gas revolution is delivering big benefits to our economy, our environment and to our nation’s security. As the world’s top energy producer, America is leveraging this position of strength to grow good-paying jobs and economic opportunity here at home while firming up important trading partnership with key allies abroad. The increasing use of natural gas in power generation is also improving our environment at the same time.

This positive shift is a win for the America people and a blow to nations that previously used their energy resources against the U.S. as a political weapon.

Thankfully in Washington, American energy dominance is a central focus of the Trump administration’s policy priorities. With smart, jobs- and consumer-focused policies at the federal level as well as in energy-producing states, our economy and global political muscle will only grow stronger.

Anyone who follows energy trends hears a lot of debate around new pipelines, and how anti-fossil fuel activists want to stop infrastructure development that’s critical to creating jobs and boosting America’s manufacturing sector. We see much less discussion in the energy-related news media about how refineries and existing pipelines are responding to energy revolution’s shifting market dynamics and the benefits these actions bring to consumers.

In the Midwest, refineries have made massive new investments – literally billions of dollars in capital – to expand operations to process more North American crude in recent years. According to Morningstar, these refiners can now process 300+ more mbopd today compared to 2010. And it’s a trend that will likely continue forward.

Read The Rest Here

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STEER: A Business Model That Works

It was great to be able to write this issue’s cover feature on the South Texas Energy & Economic Roundtable (STEER) and its outstanding staff, including President and CEO Omar Garcia. Watching the organization have so much success has been very rewarding, since I played a minor role in its creation back in 2012; and writing the piece provided a chance to reflect on the STEER business model and why the oil and gas industry should try to replicate it in other parts of the country.

By late 2011, it had become obvious to everyone that the Eagle Ford Shale was a world-class resource that represented an unprecedented opportunity for economic development in South Texas. Shortly after a lunch during which I and a group of colleagues talked about how best to go about protecting this opportunity, I got on a conference call with the Haynesville Shale Operators’ Committee (HSOC). This coincidence of timing was what spurred my involvement in the germination of STEER.

HSOC was the brainchild of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association (LOGA) and its President, Don Briggs. Created during the height of the development of the Haynesville Shale natural gas development, the organization served as an extremely effective voice for the industry in what was at the time the busiest shale development region of the country. The challenge the Haynesville Shale presented to LOGA was its concentration in the northwest corner of the state, hundreds of miles from the state capital of Baton Rouge, where LOGA’s offices were located.

Rather than have its staff constantly travel back and forth between Baton Rouge and Shreveport to help its members address community and regulatory issues, LOGA came up with the model of establishing a committee within its organizational structure that essentially functioned as a separate trade association. To become members of HSOC, companies paid separate dues, and the committee itself had its own separate staff.

To further distinguish HSOC as a separate entity, the HSOC staff seldom became engaged in the single most crucial role of any state trade association — lobbying the state’s legislature. Instead, HSOC focused on helping members with community and media relations, functions that have not traditionally been strong points for the industry’s legacy associations.

The model worked. HSOC was a tremendous asset for producers, the media and communities in the region, all of whom needed an honest-broker intermediary to help understand and communicate with one another.

Seeing no reason why this model wouldn’t work just as well in South Texas — where the sudden, massive growth in oil and gas activity was very predictably creating lots of friction and challenges in the local communities — I took the idea to Rob Looney, then-President of the Texas Oil & Gas Association (TXOGA), one of the industry’s largest trade associations, headquartered in Austin. My involvement ended there, since I had a conflicting role with one of the industry’s national trade associations at that time.

Read The Rest Here

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Everyone Chill Out, OK?

Just a little perspective on the current situation, and then I’ll shut up for the day:
 
  • The current effort by the fake media/Democrat Party ministry of disinformation to tar President Trump as a racist and run him out of office is just a repeat of the playbook they used against Ronald Reagan in 1981-84. Same tactics, same false claims, same inflammatory protests and rhetoric. We have, in other words, seen this movie before.
  • We should all remember that the ending to that movie in 1984 was the single greatest landslide re-election of any sitting president in the history of the American Republic. The average American is much more perceptive than Democrats believe they are.
  • We also need to remember this key difference between 1984 and today – The Democrat Party’s status has radically changed:

    • The Democrat Party in 1984 was a majority national party in almost every respect outside of the Oval Office.  It controlled both houses of congress, a majority of state governorships and a majority of state legislative houses.  It was the majority party in the West, the majority party in the Rust Belt, the majority party in the Midwest, and the majority party in the Northeast.  It had real leadership in congress, and a strong bench of younger, upcoming leaders.  What it didn’t have was a strong candidate to challenge Reagan, whose popularity boomed along with the national economy, which had come roaring back in response to his program of tax cuts.
    • By contrast, The Democrat Party today is in complete and utter disarray. It has no leadership that is attractive outside one fringe group or another.  It is now nothing more than a regional party comprised of an often-conflicting collection of single-issue grievance constituencies.  Its only unifying core philosophy is one of hate:  Hate Trump, hatred of white men, hatred of the police, hatred of the military, hatred of fossil fuels and pipelines.  It has no real leadership outside of the evil George Soros and the termed-out Barack Obama and the twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.  It has no bench of young, upcoming stars to replace its current sclerotic leaders.  It is the majority party only on the West Coast and in some of the Northeast.  It controls neither house of congress, only 4 of 9 seats on the Supreme Court, only 15 of 50 governorships, and an even smaller number of state legislatures.  It is an utterly corrupt and dying entity.
    • Even better for the Republicans, the termed-out Barack Obama, whose feckless and corrupt rule from the radical left and deployment of Alinskyite tactics against his political enemies led directly to the fall of the Democrat Party, is promising to move back onto the political stage this fall.  This can only work to the GOP’s advantage.
  • So tonight, when you turn on CNN or MSNBC (for what reasons I can’t even fathom at this point other than self-abuse)  and see a panel made up of 4 squealing liberals, 2 pontificating fake Republican Trump-haters, and a token real Republican who is there for “balance”, realize that fewer than 1 out of 3000 other Americans are joining you in that inexplicable activity.  Most of them are hopelessly lost souls, but they do not a majority make.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. economy continues to heat up; the FBI and Justice Department appear to be turning back into real, functioning law enforcement entities again; U.S. foreign policy is working again, even at the previously worthless United Nations; the swamp creatures who have infested and corrupted the State Department, the IRS, the Interior Department, the Energy Department, the EPA and the Department of (no) Education are being run off in droves; the rapidly rising production and exports of oil, coal and liquefied natural gas are turning the U.S. into an energy powerhouse on the international stage; and there have been more than 1 million new jobs created in our country during the first half of 2017.
  • As we sit here today, all of these factors and many more mean it is very likely, given good health, that Donald Trump will be a two-term president.  So do what I’m going to do this evening:  stop worrying and be happy.

That is all.

 

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