One source for this post is Forbes Magazine article, ” U.S. Dependence on Foreign Oil Hits 30-Year Low”, by Mr. Mike Patton.  Other sources were obviously used.

The United States is at this point in time “energy independent”—for the most part.   Do you remember the ‘70s and how, at times, it was extremely difficult to buy gasoline?  If you were driving during the 1970s, you certainly must remember waiting in line for an hour or more just to put gas in the ol’ car? Thanks to the OPEC oil embargo, petroleum was in short supply. At that time, America’s need for crude oil was soaring while U.S. production was falling. As a result, the U.S. was becoming increasingly dependent on foreign suppliers. Things have changed a great deal since then. Beginning in the mid-2000s, America’s dependence on foreign oil began to decline.  One of the reasons for this decline is the abundance of natural gas or methane existent in the US.

“At the rate of U.S. dry natural gas consumption in 2015 of about 27.3 Tcf (trillion cubic feet) per year, the United States has enough natural gas to last about 86 years. The actual number of years will depend on the amount of natural gas consumed each year, natural gas imports and exports, and additions to natural gas reserves. Jul 25, 2017”

For most of the one hundred and fifty (150) years of U.S. oil and gas production, natural gas has played second fiddle to oil. That appeared to change in the mid-2000s, when natural gas became the star of the shale revolution, and eight of every 10 rigs were chasing gas targets.

But natural gas turned out to be a shooting star. Thanks to the industry’s incredible success in leveraging game-changing technology to commercialize ultralow-permeability reservoirs, the market was looking at a supply glut by 2010, with prices below producer break-even values in many dry gas shale plays.

Everyone knows what happened next. The shale revolution quickly transitioned to crude oil production, and eight of every ten (10) rigs suddenly were drilling liquids. What many in the industry did not realize initially, however, is that tight oil and natural gas liquids plays would yield substantial associated gas volumes. With ongoing, dramatic per-well productivity increases in shale plays, and associated dry gas flowing from liquids resource plays, the beat just keeps going with respect to growth in oil, NGL and natural gas supplies in the United States.

Today’s market conditions certainly are not what had once been envisioned for clean, affordable and reliable natural gas. But producers can rest assured that vision of a vibrant, growing and stable market will become a reality; it just will take more time to materialize. There is no doubt that significant demand growth is coming, driven by increased consumption in industrial plants and natural gas-fired power generation, as well as exports, including growing pipeline exports to Mexico and overseas shipments of liquefied natural gas.

Just over the horizon, the natural gas star is poised to again shine brightly. But in the interim, what happens to the supply/demand equation? This is a critically important question for natural gas producers, midstream companies and end-users alike.

Natural gas production in the lower-48 states has increased from less than fifty (50) billion cubic feet a day (Bcf/d) in 2005 to about 70 Bcf/d today. This is an increase of forty (40%) percent over nine years, or a compound annual growth rate of about four (4%) percent. There is no indication that this rate of increase is slowing. In fact, with continuing improvements in drilling efficiency and effectiveness, natural gas production is forecast to reach almost ninety (90) Bcf/d by 2020, representing another twenty-nine (29%) percent increase over 2014 output.

Most of this production growth is concentrated in a few extremely prolific producing regions. Four of these are in a fairway that runs from the Texas Gulf Coast to North Dakota through the middle section of the country, and encompasses the Eagle Ford, the Permian Basin, the Granite Wash, the SouthCentral Oklahoma Oil Play and other basins in Oklahoma, and the Williston Basin. The other major producing region is the Marcellus and Utica shales in the Northeast. Almost all the natural gas supply growth is coming from these regions.

We are at the point where this abundance can allow US companies to export LNG or liquified natural gas.   To move this cleaner-burning fuel across oceans, natural gas must be converted into liquefied natural gas (LNG), a process called liquefaction. LNG is natural gas that has been cooled to –260° F (–162° C), changing it from a gas into a liquid that is 1/600th of its original volume.  This would be the same requirement for Dayton.  The methane gas captured would need to be liquified and stored.  This is accomplished by transporting in a vessel similar to the one shown below:

As you might expect, a vessel such as this requires very specific designs relative to the containment area.  A cut-a-way is given below to indicate just how exacting that design must be to accomplish, without mishap, the transportation of LNG to other areas of the world.

Loading LNG from storage to the vessel is no easy manner either and requires another significant expenditure of capital.

For this reason, LNG facilities over the world are somewhat limited in number.  The map below will indicate their location.

A typical LNG station, both process and loading may be seen below.  This one is in Darwin.

CONCLUSIONS:

With natural gas being in great supply, there will follow increasing demand over the world for this precious commodity.  We already see automobiles using LNG instead of gasoline as primary fuel.  Also, the cost of LNG is significantly less than gasoline even with average prices over the US being around $2.00 +++ dollars per gallon.  According to AAA, the national average for regular, unleaded gasoline has fallen for thirty-five (35) out of thirty-six (36) days to $2.21 per gallon and sits at the lowest mark for this time of year since 2004. Gas prices continue to drop in most parts of the country due to abundant fuel supplies and declining crude oil costs. Average prices are about fifty-five (55) cents less than a year ago, which is motivating millions of Americans to take advantage of cheap gas by taking long road trips this summer.

I think the bottom line is: natural gas is here to stay.

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TRUCKING

September 19, 2017


I have several clients I try to keep happy each week.  One is in Cleveland, Tennessee. That’s about a forty-five (45) minute drive for me, one way, so I get to see a great deal of Interstate traffic.  This is my thirteenth year with this company as a client so I have made that trip multiple times.  There is NO time of the day that I do not see an armada of fifty-three (53) foot rigs hauling their load from point “A” to point “B”.  The numbers are quite frankly staggering.  According to the American Trucking Association (ATA) for the year 2016:

  • The big rigs moved 10.42 billion tons of freight or seventy percent (70%) of all domestic freight tonnage.
  • The nation’s commercial trucks paid $41.3 billion in state and federal highway user fees and taxes. The average five-axel-trailer pays more than $5,600.00 in taxes annually.
  • There were 33.8 million trucks registered for business purposes, including 3.68 million Class 8 trucks. (NOTE: The Class 8 truck gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is a vehicle with a GVWR exceeding 33000 pounds (14969 kg). These include tractor trailer tractors as well as single-unit dump trucks of a GVWR over 33,000 pounds; such trucks typically have 3 or more axles.)
  • The 33.8 million trucks mentioned above burned 38.8 billion gallons of diesel fuel and 15.5 billion gallons of gasoline. Today’s average price per gallon for diesel is $2.71.
  • They traveled 450.4 billion miles.
  • Approximately 7.4 million Americans are employed in trucking-related jobs, including 3.5 million as truck drivers.
  • Trucking is an industry made up of small businesses; 91% of motor carriers operate six or fewer trucks and 97.3% operate less than 20.
  • Annual revenues for 2016 totaled $676.2 billion.
  • Freight volumes are projected to grow 2.8% in 2017 with an annual growth rate of 3.4% through 2023.
  • Truckload volumes are expected to grow 2.7% per year from 2017 to 2023.
  • Short haul or LTL shipments, will increase 3.3% per year from 2017 to 2023.

Companies, small and large, are making concerted efforts to lessen costs for diesel fuel and obtain greater efficencies thereby reducing overall total costs of operation.  This is a nationwide exercise all movers long-haul and short-haul are participating in.  We are already seeing FedEx, UPS, the Federal Post Office, DHL, police departments, taxi cab companies and others convert from diesel to propane or natural gas as the fuel of choice.  This not only reduces operating expense but reduces carbon emissions.   We also see companies who design and build engines for these big rigs, working hard to improve mileage and engine efficencies.  Progress is being made on a yearly basis.  So, the next time you pass an LTL or STL hauler, think about the industry and the efforts they are in the process of adopting to improve their company.

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