Update on the Nation’s Energy Supply

A quick update on a post from a year and a half ago entitled ‘We have more oil and natural gas than anyone thought possible even 5 years ago.’

4-11-2014 5-00

These numbers are compiled by the Energy Information Administration, the data-aggregation arm of the Department of Energy. The graphs represent the remaining proved reserves* for crude oil and for natural gas for the United States. (Note that the numbers are the most current available, Year End 2012 [YE2012].) As such, we have nearly 18 months of continued robust drilling activity since that time, in a stable-to-higher price setting, around $100 per barrel.

In summary, YE2012 crude oil reserves, at 30.5 billon barrels, were at a higher level than any time in my working career, the highest since Prudhoe Bay’s Alaskan reserves hit the books. (This number excludes natural gas condensate, gas liquids, biofuels and other liquid hydrocarbons that have reduced the country’s reliance on foreign sources.)

During the shale boom, year-over-year reserve increases have run from 2 to 4 billion barrels per year for the four previous years. I see little sign of this trend abating.

4-11-2014 5-01

Gas is a color of another horse. Remaining Proved Reserves* of natural gas reached an all-time high of 350 trillion cubic feet (TCF) at the end of 2011. Gas reserves declined between YE2011 and YE2012 for a number of reasons. During 2012, production of 25+ TCF depleted the beginning reserve base. Gas prices remain at historic lows compared to oil, so most of the domestic drilling fleet is drilling for oil, not gas, so new discoveries are not outpacing production as is the case with oil. The low price of gas also impacts the calculation of future recovery: in a fixed cost environment, it takes higher levels of production to turn a profit. Part of the definition of “proved reserves” is that the forecasted future production must cover costs; therefore, low prices translate directly to lower reserves.

* The term “Proved Reserves” is bandied about by journalists, pundits and politicians who think they know what they’re talking about, but in actuality it is an engineering term of art with a specific, narrow meaning. Proved Reserves are those quantities that are reasonably certain to be produced from existing wells, or locations adjacent to existing wells and reasonably certain based on the best understanding of geology, and that are economic to produce with existing technology at current prices. Proved Reserves are a tiny subset of “resources”, a more theoretical total of discovered and undiscovered future supply.

In short, Proved Reserves are quantities that some resource company somewhere has “on its books”, sort of analogous to inventory on hand. At a national level, reserves are historically about 10-20 years of current production, which invariably leads those who don’t understand the number to conclude that “we’re running out of oil in 10-20 years.” No. Continued drilling always converts “resources” into “reserves”.



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Anti-fracking protesters in urgent plea – for GAS! #rsrh

A [U.K.] group protesting against fracking for shale gas at Barton Moss have been left a little red-faced after making an urgent appeal – for gas.
The camp’s supply ran out Sunday morning and they tweeted from their account @BartonMoss “#bartonmoss URGENTLY needs water and gas for the cooker if anyone can help”.
Between 10 and 20 people live there at the moment, with more people attending daily protests, and they use the gas for cooking.


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Methane: The Irrelevant Greenhouse Gas

Steve Maley:

A concise and thoroughly understandable explanation of the greenhouse effect, and why a little methane in the mix is irrelevant.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Water vapor has already absorbed the very same infrared radiation that Methane might have absorbed.

Guest essay by Dr. Tom Sheahen

Q: I read that methane is an even worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and cattle are a big source of methane emissions. How are they going to regulate that? Not just cattle, but dairy cows as well! That doubles the worry.

Fortunately, there is really nothing to worry about, scientifically. The main thing to worry about is over-reacting politicians and another layer of unnecessary government regulations.  

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Cummings to Issa: ‘What are you hiding, Mr. Chairman?’

“I am a Member of the Congress of the United States of America!”

That was on March 5. Now we know what *you* were hiding, Mr. Ranking Member.

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OMG! #Fracking chemicals? #rsrh

No, #shampooing chemicals.



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How Green is RedState?

First, a story from The Guardian:

Social media explosion powered by dirty energy, report warns

Amazon Web Services, which provides a cloud platform for Netflix, Tumblr and Pinterest, was singled out for being secretive about its energy use, and for siting data centres in areas that rely heavily on coal.

The company lagged “far behind its major competitors, with zero reporting of its energy or environmental footprint to any source or stakeholder”, the report said.

Twitter and Oracle were also faulted. Microsoft and Yahoo received middling grades in the report, which looked at energy use by 300 tech companies.

[Links, ironically, in the original. - Ed.]

Prompted by that, the new owners of RedState.com asked me, its erstwhile energy guru, to conduct an energy audit of the site and report to the stakeholders (i.e., the editors, the contributors, the diarist community and the Disqus trolls) what more we can do to for the planet.

The findings:

  • RedState’s bank of servers is located as closely as possible to their main source of fuel, the Athabasca Tar Sands of northern Alberta. 100% of power consumed is generated by antiquated steam boilers running at 3% efficiency.
  • All moving parts in the antiquated electrical dynamos must be lubricated by oil from sperm whales or baby seals.*
  • All workers at the site are housed in buildings constructed entirely of old-growth teak from the jungles of Sumatra (former orang-utan habitat). The teak is harvested using state-of-the-art Slash & Burn™ techniques, leading to fires in the 500 foot-thick peat beds.
  • The electrons from deleted posts are ground, composted and recycled as new, sustainable posts. (H/T Erick Brockway via twitter.)
  • Strict standards are set for the use of renewable energy. For example, any wind turbines used to generate energy must be certified to have already killed the USF&WS-allowed quota of eagles, condors and endangered bats.**
  • Erick Erickson’s daily commute (Macon, GA-DC round-trip) is in an aging Gulfstream G650. He buys his carbon indulgences in such quantity that he qualifies for a volume discount.
  • RedState’s policy discourages site contributors from reusing hotel towels while at the site’s Annual Gathering, leading to an estimated decline of 20% in the global polar bear population.

In summary, the entire RedState enterprise has a carbon footprint roughly half that of former Vice-President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore.

*Note: No baby seals were clubbed during the preparation of this report.

**However, we can’t say the same about vultures.

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Middendorf’s. Mmmmiddendorf’s.

Famous seafood restaurant at Pass Manchac, LA. Known for thin fried catfish (foreground).

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Happy Mardi Gras, y’all! #rsrh

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Renewable Energy in Decline

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

By Steve Goreham

Originally published in Communities Digital News.

The global energy outlook has changed radically in just six years. President Obama was elected in 2008 by voters who believed we were running out of oil and gas, that climate change needed to be halted, and that renewables were the energy source of the near future. But an unexpected transformation of energy markets and politics may instead make 2014 the year of peak renewables.

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Study Credits Volcanoes (and Other Stuff) for Saving Us From Climate Hell

An article in Monday’s Guardian (UK) would seem to vindicate those of us in the climate skeptic (sceptic?) community who have suspected that computer models of climate processes were overly focused on the warming influence of carbon dioxide. As it turns out, the climate is a complex system, susceptible to influence from volcanos, oceans, variable solar output, soot, etc., just as we have been saying all along. Um, it’s not as if volcanoes have only been erupting these last 17 years, guys.

The “climate community”, undeterred, doubles down.

Volcanic eruptions causing global warming slowdown, study says

“This is a complex detective story,” said Benjamin Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, lead author of the study in the journal Nature Geoscience that gives the most detailed account yet of the cooling impact of volcanoes.

“Volcanoes are part of the answer but there’s no factor that is solely responsible for the hiatus,” he told Reuters of the study by a team of US and Canadian experts.
Continue reading

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