The days of relying on the unreliable Middle East for oil seem to be over since the United States and Canada began fending for themselves through oil sands production and even natural gas fracking.
For many decades, and up until just a few years ago, a “geopolitical premium” was figured into the cost of a barrel of oil, because the threat of military conflict or disruption of delivery from war-ravaged areas, such as the Middle East and Africa, added constant uncertainty that warranted a bonus for safe delivery.
For example, premiums rose during the Iraq War in the early 2000s, and again in 2011, when Libya’s civil war cut off the country’s production. For much of the early 2010s, the market added on a geopolitical premium of about $US 10 a barrel, according to a report last week which was published in oil industry news outlet OILPRICE.com.
“Things started changing about half-a-dozen years ago when the US started producing more of its own light tight oils. Concurrently, Canada was ramping up its heavier oil sands production, destined for Gulf Coast refineries. So, Americans bought more western Canadian oil. And Eastern Canada began buying more US oil, delivered by tanker from the Gulf Coast and by rail car from North Dakota. This increasing oil swap began happening at the expense of foreign suppliers. Nigeria, Algeria, Venezuela, and Angola all lost market share in the United States as a result,” explains the report.
This is one of the reasons why events like rebels attacking oil facilities in Nigeria or military actions in the Middle East make no difference in U.S. gas prices these days.
Demonstrating the dramatic shift in global energy production over the past few years, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has put out a new report, stating that the United States remained “the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in 2015.”
According to EIA’s June 2017 estimates, “U.S. petroleum and natural gas production first surpassed Russia’s in 2012, with the United States being the world’s largest producer of natural gas since 2011 and the world’s leading producer of petroleum hydrocarbons since 2013.”
The United States remained the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in 2016 for the fifth straight year, despite production declines for both petroleum and natural gas relative to their 2015 levels. The United States has been the world’s top producer of natural gas since 2009 when U.S. natural gas production surpassed that of Russia, and it has been the world’s top producer of petroleum hydrocarbons since 2013, when its production exceeded Saudi Arabia’s, according to the June 7 report from the EIA.
“For the United States and Russia, total petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbon production in energy content terms is almost evenly split between petroleum and natural gas, while Saudi Arabia’s production heavily favors petroleum. Total petroleum production is made up of several different types of liquid fuels, including crude oil and lease condensate, tight oil, extra-heavy oil, and bitumen. In addition, various processes produce natural gas plant liquids (NGPL), biofuels, and refinery processing gain, among other liquid fuels,” according to the EIA.
In a June 29 speech at the U.S. Energy Department, President Trump acknowledged the EIA’s report with one magnificent statement: “The golden era of American energy is now underway.”
“Our country is blessed with true energy abundance, which we didn’t know of even five years ago and certainly 10 years ago,” Trump said. “With these incredible resources, my administration will seek not only the American energy independence that we’ve been looking for so long but American energy dominance.”
The president again took notice of the news that our growing production of oil and natural gas and substantial coal reserves put the United States in the catbird seat to become a leading exporter of fuel. While he and First Lady Melania Trump were overseas, Trump told a cheering crowd in Warsaw on June 6: “[W]e are committed to securing your access to alternate sources of energy, so Poland and its neighbors are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy.” Russia was surely not pleased.
In the EIA’s June Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), U.S. petroleum and other liquid fuels production are expected to increase, reaching 15.6 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2017 and 16.7 million b/d in 2018, up from 14.8 million b/d in 2016.
Last year, the bilateral trade of energy (including natural gas, oil and power) between the U.S. and Canada was about U.S $55 billion, with oil being 80 percent of the total. Beyond size, the upstream oil business between America and Canada reveals big shifts in dollar and volume trade over the past few years.
Oil prices are now steady and reliable since North America and the western world have broken free from OPEC’s greasy grip. The threat of real shortages like we saw back in the 1970s has become a distant memory reserved for older folks. Most of the drivers on the roads today weren’t even alive back then.