Archive for the ‘Washington watch’ Category

Will crude prices weigh on the US export debate?

There’s relatively widespread consensus among analysts and academics that the White House is unlikely to do anything on crude exports in the near term, and many believe President Obama may not touch the issue before he leaves office in January 2017.

What’s less clear is how the newly-Republican controlled Congress will deal with the issue and how crude prices will influence the possible debate.

Will the recent plunge in crude oil prices bolster the case for an end to restrictions on US exports or could relatively low prices deflate the argument for loosening the long-standing US crude export regime?

On the other hand, will crude prices have little to no impact on domestic export policy?

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Regulation and Environment: A whole lot of factors in the Keystone XL decision

Beyond the politics, there are a lot of legal reasons that President Obama can–or can not–deny the application to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Gary Gentile discusses some of them in today’s Oilgram News column, Regulation & Environment.

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Pop quiz: What factors can President Obama consider when deciding whether to issue a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline?

a) Environmental issues, including the impact of oil sands development on the climate.

b) The relative safety of transporting heavy crude by rail versus pipeline.

c) Maintaining good relations with Canada, one of our most important trading partners.

d) The odds of the New York Mets making the baseball playoffs this year.

The surprising answer is “all of the above.” Surprise again: the correct answer could also be “none of the above.”

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Keystone XL was theater, but it was good theater

This week’s Keystone XL drama in the US Senate was flush with the political party infighting, partisan sniping and naked political theater that critics of Washington, DC tend to hate most.

It also included the political party infighting, partisan sniping and naked political theater that Beltway media and cable news junkies tend to love most.

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Did crude oil export supporters rush to crow about EIA report?

Shortly after the US Energy Information Administration released a report last week on what drives US gasoline prices, the American Petroleum Institute declared its findings a significant argument in favor of dropping all restrictions on US crude oil exports.

The EIA report “confirms that lifting trade restrictions on U.S. crude oil could benefit U.S. consumers and promote America’s economic growth,” the oil and gas industry’s key trade association said in a statement.

That same day, the Producers for American Crude Oil Exports, a lobbying group backed by independent oil companies including Anadarko Petroleum, ConocoPhillips and Hess, said the EIA report backed the group’s calls for liberalizing the crude export restrictions which have been in place for nearly 40 years.

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Oil and the elections, through the eyes of a DC analyst

Kevin Book, Christi Tezak and the other partners at ClearView Energy Partners always have some unique perspectives on the intersection of politics and energy.

So here are a few nuggets from their post-Election Day wrap-up:

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Regulation & Environment: Alaska mining battle and its impact on oil and gas

Regulations between mining and oil and gas often spill over. That’s what the industry is worried about in Alaska, as Tim Bradner discusses in this week’s Oilgram News column, Regulation & Environment.

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New Frontiers: Cutting back natural gas flaring in North Dakota hits a bump

North Dakota has aggressively sought to cut the amount of natural gas flaring going on in the state. It’s made strides, but it has a new hurdle, as Brian Scheid discusses in this week’s Oilgram News column, New Frontiers.

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The 10% ethanol blendwall is once again looming

Don’t look now, but the ethanol blendwall is back.

That 10% cap of how much ethanol can be blended into the US gasoline pool was a fiery issue in the Big Oil vs. Big Farm battle in 2013.

And believe it or not, the number has quietly but quickly crept back up into dangerous territory.

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Could a Jones Act waiver move US crude export policy?

US crude oil exports appear to be the next big energy policy battle, but could a rift between East Coast refiners and US producers, as well as a historic shift in US export rules, be avoided with a limited, temporary waiver to a century-old shipping law?

Perhaps because they want to avoid a prolonged dispute within their own industry, some US refining interests have floated the idea. Some within the industry see a temporary waiver to the Jones Act as a feasible compromise on weakening the current export regime.

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Kurdish attempts to sell oil are not going to get support from the Obama administration

For two months now, the United Kalavrvta tanker holding 1 million barrels of Kurdish crude has idled in international waters off the coast of Galveston, Texas, awaiting a District Court ruling on whether the oil will be allowed to be sold in the US.

But if the Kurdistan Regional Government is hoping that the Obama administration will soften its stance in opposition to Kurdish oil exports, that doesn’t appear likely, even as the US seeks to aid the Kurdish peshmerga in their fight against the Islamic jihadist group IS.

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