Canada’s oil sands will experience large production growth through 2019 followed by more modest, steady growth through 2027, according to a new, 10-year production forecast by business information provider IHS Markit.

The forecast calls for production to rise more than 500,000 barrels per day in 2019, and up to 1 million barrels per day (MMBPD) by 2027 compared to 2018, Kallanish Energy reports.

Canadian oil sands have gained importance to the heavy oil market as the only source of material supply growth in the world for that type of crude.

Output from other large producers of heavy oil — most notably Venezuela, where production has fallen by more than one MMBPD in recent years and is expected to fall further — has declined.

Despite this increased prominence in heavy oil markets and higher oil prices in recent months, the new outlook still expects production growth to moderate after 2019, similar to previous IHS Markit projections for oil sands production.

The strong growth in the near term is expected to come from the completion of projects sanctioned prior to the oil price collapse, the revival of some deferred projects as well as some new investments in capital efficiency projects.

Following 2019, uncertainties related to much-needed infrastructure—particularly pipeline takeaway capacity—point to a deceleration of growth, IHS Markit says.

“Pipeline constraints have exacerbated price discounts for Western Canadian heavy oil relative to global benchmarks. Over the past 12 months alone, the difference in price compared to a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) has fluctuated just under $10 per barrel to more than $30,” said Kevin Birn, executive director, IHS Markit.

“This sort of price volatility is weighing on investment decisions in western Canada and will likely continue to do so until greater certainty can be achieved.”

The IHS Markit outlook does continue to project growth in part due to the unique nature of oil sands projects, which do not experience production declines, meaning any incremental investment can add to existing production and contribute to growth.

“This represents a strategic advantage for oil sands asset owners coming out of a low-price period in that there is no production deficit to overcome,” according to IHS Markit. “IHS Markit also expects greater crude-by-rail movements to help pick up the slack in the interim and for new pipelines to be built eventually.

“Over the long term, the timing of the new pipelines will be key,” Birn said. “Even when greater certainty on infrastructure is achieved, it will take time for the impact of subsequent investment decisions to play out on production growth because of the lead time involved in oil sands development. The current growth trajectory was a long time in the making, it has taken a time to slow, and it will take time to recover.”


James_Smith_sm-1.jpgJames E. Smith, Ph.D. Engineering
Managing Member and President of Plasma Igniter, LLC


James E. Smith explains how, we as a society, need to stand up and demand people to “stop doing stupid” if we are to grow socially and economically.

An old adage says we should “gladly suffer fools.” The opposing view is that we should “stop doing stupid.” Either way, the key concern is the direct impact that not confronting stupid or shortsighted actions has on morale and the long-term effectiveness of any decision-making/leadership process.

Whether it is managing people, business processes, visionary leadership or important innovation efforts, the need to mitigate stupid, wasteful directives, interjections and interruptions has become an essential requirement if we are to grow socially and economically.


A primary reason we as a species have been so successful is our ability to take advantage of acquired knowledge in making decisions and solving problems. These abilities also allow us to aggressively protect ourselves from the varied and changing environments we choose to live in, amidst the diverse personalities that we are expected to live and work with.

In other words, we have the ability to successfully teach, mentor, lead and manage as required to precipitate the next great something. This becomes a clear necessity in staying ahead of the problems that prior generations created in solving even earlier problems. It also seems to be a primary characteristic for any advancing technological society, where the notion of simply stepping off the progress merry-go-round in favor of “an earlier, simpler time” will lead only to frustration and a train to Emerald City.

And yet many seem to have an apparently endless willingness to allow, or at least tolerate, acts of stupidity. This is certainly not a new problem. Each generation has had to deal with the few, but noisy and persistent, actors who make life and progress just a little harder to navigate. But unlike in the past, when we may have had the luxury to argue trivial points ad nauseam with little consequence, the accelerating rate of our social and technological development means we can no longer tolerate these delays.

Consider how our society often indulges foolishness by individuals or groups acting out of ignorance or petulance. These people expect to continue getting away with their interference, obstruction, stupidity and obnoxious behavior because they think they are entitled, above reproach or simply smarter than the rest of society, or they have ensconced themselves high up in the hierarchical or governmental pecking order.

Many people who fit this description actually begin as foolish, but appeal to the mercy of their associates or subordinates, learn what is needed, and use the group’s combined skill set to move the process forward. This preferred path eventually removes the party from the “stupid group.” (Your own past experiences can judge what percentage of the population chooses this option.)

Others, however, ignore reality and micro-manage whatever capabilities, skill sets and authorities they have been given or assigned – and often request more time and resources to advance their beliefs, agendas and ignorance. Ultimately, if they fail to accomplish their goals, they find ways to blame everything and everyone around them for their failure. If they plead their case well enough, they may even be rewarded with a promotion and even greater responsibilities that they can’t or won’t handle in the future.

This latter situation is clearly too prevalent in our society at all levels of corporate America, and, of course, within the government: local, state and federal. It is also prevalent in our social programs and the very activities we subject ourselves and our children to. In many of these cases, people get fed up and walk out, while others feel compelled by societal, employment and governance rules and expectations to put up with it all.

It is clear to a growing number of us that we as a society have sat too long letting people who have perfected the art of stupid continue to add ever increasing levels of nonsense to our already busy lives, through accident, oversight, ignorance, laziness, personal gain, or just plain self-entitlement.

Letting “stupid” continue, with no relief or recourse, is affecting our home, social and work environment, our creative and innovative talents, and the governance we expect and subject ourselves to.

We shouldn’t have a problem with ignorant people who are willing to learn and to do the best they can. The problem is with those who are unwilling to learn, or to develop new skill sets but still expect to be allowed by silent assent to do as they please. Even worse are the growing numbers of people who expect to succeed by virtue of their imperious demands and loud, obnoxious, even threatening behavior.

Non-reaction on our part has perpetuated growing levels of such behavior on their part, and an increasing degree of hopelessness and complacency on the part of decent, reasonable people. That has an additional downside.

Failure to respond and act in response to stupid or bad behavior breeds greater incompetence, as equally or more incompetent people are recruited at all management and leadership levels, to ensure that “stupid” isn’t exposed or jeopardized. More importantly, we also get a lowered performance bar, reducing or even removing challenges and the need for excellence. This result makes us all stupid.


Clearly, stupid has been around since little Jimmy decided to poke the sleeping bear with a stick.

I do believe, though, that we as a population have increasingly (and incorrectly) decided that it is just plain easier to let things continue as they are. We have become a nation of people who are too busy to get involved; too indoctrinated into believing the current state of affairs was mandated on high; or too intimidated by loud, menacing street mobs to question their wisdom or asserted “will of the people.”

These will eventually become more opportunities for well-deserved Darwin Awards to weed out the worst practitioners of stupid (or worse) behavior.

I don’t believe today’s “middle America” had any real input into the present situation, though it may be complicit through its silence. But I get an uneasy feeling that what is being pontificated, decided and decreed is being listened to and accepted by too many people who are either clueless, apathetic or feeling obligated by self-imposed, job-related or socially pressured expectations to just sit there and take it.

I also believe a growing percentage of those same folks simply don’t notice or acknowledge what they read or hear about, or even witness with their own eyes. So why do we continue down this path?

I don’t have an answer. Maybe we just need a few people with the courage and presence of mind to speak out, step forward and refuse to take it anymore. It may require a groundswell from the general population to get noticed. But that is unlikely to happen without a few brave people taking a stand.

All I know is, a lot of individuals in this world are still plugged-in and aware enough to know things are not right, or not right enough.

We all see and call things wrong at times, or frequently. However, if we haven’t made a few mistakes, we probably haven’t done anything good either, or we are still in bed with the covers pulled over our heads.

Making well-reasoned decisions – and standing up to bullies, oppression and intolerance – are hallmarks of our nation’s success story. Our continued success, and even survival, depends on this continuing. It seems to me it’s time for each one of us to identify and challenge a small piece of the human foolishness around us, and work to improve the situation, by demanding that the perpetrators “Stop Doing Stupid!”

Editor’s Note: This piece summarizes, quite nicely, what we have been up against with fractivists and their trust-funder enablers at special interests foundation such as the Heinz Endowments, the Park Foundation, the Wallace family foundations, the Rockefeller foundations and, of course, the William Penn Foundation. It’s stupid is as stupid does all the way with these folks and the courage to stand up and say “the emperor has no clothes” is more important now than ever.

James E. Smith is a retired university professor of engineering and current Member Manager for Plasma Igniter, LLC.

The post The “Stupid Is As Stupid Does” World of Fractivism and So Much Else appeared first on Natural Gas Now.

Medallion Pipeline, of Irving, Texas, on Monday announced a binding open season for a major expansion of its crude oil pipeline system in the Midland Basin.

The company plans to construct a 16-inch operational loop of its existing Midkiff Lateral and plans to expand the capacity of the Crane Extension, Reagan Gathering Extension, Santa Rita Lateral, Martin Lateral and Midland Lateral, Kallanish Energy reports.

The open season provides an opportunity for interested shippers to acquire long-term firm capacity under binding Transportation Services Agreements (TSAs), as a committed firm shipper on one or more of the expansion segments.

Additionally, existing firm shippers will be provided the option to amend their existing Transportation Services Agreements, as set forth in the open season notice, to 1) adjust committed volumes or 2) obtain the lower expansion rates offered on the applicable Expansion Segments in return for an extension of the primary term of the Transportation Services Agreement. The expansion project is expected to commence commercial operations in phases, with full commercial operations expected during the fourth quarter of 2019.

Initially placed in service in October 2014, Medallion’s crude oil pipeline has undertaken a series of expansions to meet the increasing needs of producers and marketers in the Midland Basin. The existing system is a network of roughly 700 miles of six-inch and larger crude oil pipeline facilities that aggregate and transport crude oil production to the Colorado City Hub, the Crane Hub and the Midland Hub, providing access to multiple long-haul, large-volume pipelines for transportation to downstream markets.

The open season began July 16, and ends on Aug. 15.

IER-light-noletters-75x38.pngInstitute for
Energy Research


Residents of Ocean City, Maryland have made it clear, they do not want huge wind turbines obstructing their view and incentives will not change their minds.

Over a year ago, the Maryland Public Service Commission approved wind turbines to be located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland, and the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has been reviewing those plans. But the town of Ocean City is creating a problem for the wind developer by requiring the turbines to be located at least 26 nautical miles offshore, about twice the distance planned, so that they cannot be seen by tourists that flock to the peninsula during the summer months. U.S. Wind, the developer, has offered the town incentives, including ‘free’ electricity, to get the town to renege on its stance but there is no agreement in sight.


Even the offer of other community investments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each year and an offer to alter its plans if Ocean City agreed to cover the costs of seeking new government approvals could not help U.S. Wind achieve agreement from Ocean City officials. Town officials fear that tourists will abandon Ocean City and flock to other beaches if its horizon is speckled with huge wind turbines. According to U.S. Wind, building that far offshore would require starting from scratch on an offshore leasing process that began in 2010.

According to Ocean City officials, however, the community benefit package that U.S. Wind offered is vague and undefined. They conclude that the money would be better spent on figuring out a way to move the wind turbines further east. They also note that any offers to supply ‘free’ electricity have been vague, not clearly defined and would potentially violate state and federal law.

The Maryland Public Service Commission approved subsidies, to be paid by ratepayers, last year for two offshore wind projects that would add about $1 to average monthly residential electricity bills across the state, which are a necessary part to financing these very expensive projects. The commission approved 62 turbines at least 14 miles off the coast of Ocean City to be developed by U.S. Wind—a $1.4 billion project—and a 15-turbine, $720 million project by Skipjack Offshore Wind LLC to be situated north of the U.S. Wind project.

Despite the approval by the Maryland Public Service Commission, U.S. Wind now claims they will build just 32 turbines at least 17 nautical miles from shore.  U.S. Wind’s original proposal was planned to maximize the project’s profitability, but the company is scaling-back those plans because the market will not bear its larger proposal.

Earlier this year, Ocean City officials pushed for a bill in the Maryland assembly that would have prohibited offshore wind turbines within 30 miles of the coast, but the bill did not make it out of committee. They also asked the Public Service Commission to reconsider the project because of an increase in the proposed turbines’ height–from 200 feet to about 370 feet. Since the offshore wind farms were first approved by the Maryland General Assembly in 2010, the height of the proposed turbines increased due to new technology, making them more visible to those onshore.

U.S. Wind still has several regulatory hurdles it needs to clear to get federal approval, including the presentation of a construction and operation plan to BOEM.

Offshore Wind Power is Expensive

According to the Energy Information Administration, offshore wind turbines are the second most expensive generating technology that the agency considers in its Annual Energy Outlook, behind only solar thermal. The agency estimates that the levelized generating cost of an offshore wind turbine coming on-line in 2022 would be 13.8 cents per kilowatt hour in 2017 dollars, almost 3 times more than a natural gas combined cycle plant and more than twice as much as onshore wind. Transporting and installing turbines on land is significantly easier than constructing foundations and installing turbines at sea, particularly when offshore turbines are becoming much larger.

Offshore projects are massive in scale and size, work has to be performed in a highly corrosive marine environment under variable conditions and installing foundations in seabed of 35 or more meters below sea level is difficult. Performing this work requires a specialized port infrastructure, logistic service providers, construction and maintenance vessels, helicopters and related aviation resources, and other assets. Further, general marine facilities must be strengthened and otherwise upgraded to handle large turbines and foundations. And, offshore wind development has unique transmission concerns, which also add to its cost.


In order for Maryland to reach its goal of 25 percent of its electricity being generated by renewable sources by 2020, it is estimated that at least 2.5 percent will need to come from offshore wind. Maryland electricity consumers and taxpayers will be paying more for electricity produced from these offshore wind farms due to their higher cost and subsidization. For reference, Germany and Denmark, pioneers in offshore wind development, have residential electricity prices that are three times higher than those in the United States. Maryland seems to want to become the state with the first large wind farms despite the higher cost and the failure of the now-cancelled Cape Wind project off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

A previous article on Maryland’s offshore wind development can be found here.

The post Ocean City Stands Firm: No Wind Turbines on Our Horizon appeared first on Natural Gas Now.

Tom.jpg?resize=75%2C95Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

The Delaware Povertykeeper a/k/a Riverkeeper has gotten mowed over in court again; this time is a defeat for Maya’s cherished Environmental Rights Amendment.

Ever since the Delaware Riverkeeper conned a soon to retire Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice into using the Commonwealth’s environmental rights amendment for legacy building street cred with his Philadelphia pals. Maya van Rossum, the Delware Riverkeeper in the flesh as she is prone to remind anyone within earshot, has been trying to build on the amendment as if she was the author. She’s, in fact, written a book on the subject and gone to New York to try to sell the concept there, all of this financed by elitist special interests such as the William Penn Foundation.

Maya and radical Attorney Jordan Yeager, together with her frcativist sister shill, the Clean Air Council, having been trying bootstrap the amendment into some sort of super poverty-keeping, de-growthing, job-killing machine. She wants to be known as the Secretariat of extremist environmentalists or, at least as the Joan of Arc of the Hundred Years’ War to make a wilderness of the Delaware River Valley. Her dream of using the Pennsylvania Environmental Rights Amendment as the sword to do so, though, just died with a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in yet another case Maya foolishly initiated.

This was a case about the PennEast Pipeline. The Delaware Povertykeeper took FERC to court over its decisions with respect to the project. Maya and her ex-Lawyers Guild attorney Jordan Yeager, together with the Clean Air Council, both being arms of the William Penn Foundation, took an appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most important court in the nation, challenging FERC on multiple fronts. They lost on every score and the decision is analyzed in brief here. A copy of the decision with the relevant portions highlighted may be found here.


The news story, though, misses perhaps the most important part of the decision, which effectively destroyed the Environmental Rights Amendment in Federal court. This is very important. Why? Because Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court is now more political then ever and might be tempted to follow Maya’s lead in some future case. This decision makes that problematic. It speaks for itself in that regard and here are the key excerpts (emphasis added):

In 1971, the Pennsylvania Environmental Rights Amendment inserted into the state constitution certain protections for the environment. The Amendment states:

The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people. 

Riverkeeper contends that this right to clean air, pure water, and preservation of the environment creates a protected liberty or property interest as a matter of federal due process. It further contends that this right constrains FERC in its administration of federal law. The district court rejected these contentions, as do we. 

To begin, the Environmental Rights Amendment creates no federally protected liberty interest. The Amendment bears no relationship to the quintessential liberty interest—“freedom from bodily restraint.” Bd. of Regents of State Colls. v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 572 (1972) (quotation marks omitted). Nor does it protect activities that have been held to constitute federally protected liberty interests, such as “the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” Id. (quotation marks and ellipses omitted). Riverkeeper believes that “a healthy environment” is a “necessary backdrop” for such rights to be “truly meaningful.” Appellants’ Br. 23. Perhaps so, but that hardly suggests that the right to a healthy environment can itself fairly be described as a “liberty” interest. Under Roth, it cannot.

As for property interests, they “are not created by the Constitution.” Roth, 408 U.S. at 577. Instead, “their dimensions are defined by existing rules or understandings that stem from an independent source such as state law.” Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales, 545 U.S. 748, 756 (2005) (quotation marks omitted). But despite these “state-law underpinnings,” the question whether the asserted interest “rises to the level of a ‘legitimate claim of entitlement’ protected by the Due Process Clause” is ultimately one of “federal constitutional law.” Id. at 756–57 (quoting Memphis Light, Gas & Water Div. v. Craft, 436 U.S. 1, 9 (1978)). 

The Supreme Court has established several guideposts bearing on when a state-created right or benefit qualifies as “property” for due-process purposes. For one thing, “‘a person clearly must have more than an abstract need or desire’ and ‘more than a unilateral expectation of . He must, instead, have a legitimate claim of entitlement to it.’” Town of Castle Rock, 545 U.S. at 756 (quoting Roth, 408 U.S. at 577). Even for entitlements, “he hallmark of a protected property interest is the right to exclude others,” which is “one of the most essential sticks in the bundle of rights that are commonly characterized as property.” Coll. Sav. Bank v. Fla. Prepaid Postsecondary Educ. Expense Bd., 527 U.S. 666, 673 (1999) (quotation marks omitted). Moreover, the Due Process Clause does not protect rights that are vague or indeterminate—a person cannot be “safely deemed ‘entitled’ to something when the identity of the alleged entitlement is vague.” Town of Castle Rock, 545 U.S. at 763. Furthermore, “an entitlement must have ‘some ascertainable monetary value’ in order to ‘constitute a “property” interest’” for due-process purposes. Roberts v. United States, 741 F.3d 152, 162 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (quoting Town of Castle Rock, 545 U.S. at 766). Finally, courts consider the extent to which the right “resemble any traditional conception of property.” Town of Castle Rock, 545 U.S. at 766. 

Under these principles, the state-created right to clean air, pure water, and preservation of the environment does not qualify as a federally protected “property” interest. 

Most importantly, the Environmental Rights Amendment creates no right to exclude—or anything like it. To the contrary, its first sentence vests the single “right” at issue collectively in “he people,” its second sentence confirms that “Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people,” and its third sentence requires the Commonwealth to conserve and maintain environmental resources “for the benefit of all the people.” Pa. Const. art. I, § 27 (emphases added). Moreover, although the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has held that the Amendment is judicially enforceable by private individuals, it has also confirmed that the right the Amendment creates is shared equally by all Pennsylvanians. See Penn. Envtl. Def. Found. v. Pennsylvania, 161 A.3d 911, 931 (Pa. 2017); Robinson Twp. v. Pennsylvania, 83 A.3d 901, 951 & n.39 (Pa. 2013) (plurality opinion). In other words, no Pennsylvanian may exclude any other from the right to clean air, pure water, and a preserved environment. So, the Amendment protects not private property rights, but public goods. In that respect, it is like “the right that we all possess to use the public lands”—which for due-process purposes “is not the ‘property’ right of anyone.” Coll. Sav. Bank, 527 U.S. at 673. 

The Amendment is also too vague and indeterminate to create a federally cognizable property interest. As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has acknowledged, the Amendment articulates only “broad” and “relative” principles, so “the courts generally defer to agency expertise in making a factual determination whether the benchmarks were met.” Robinson Twp., 83 A.3d at 949, 953. To be sure, that Court also believes itself “equipped” to apply and enforce the Amendment in individual cases. See id.at953. But for federal due-process purposes, the question whether the Amendment is too vague to create a property right is a federal constitutional question. See Town of Castle Rock, 545 U.S. at 763. In this case, moreover, Riverkeeper invokes nothing more than the bare text of the Amendment. Without further guidance on what constitutes sufficiently clean air, sufficiently pure water, and sufficient preservation of natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic environmental values, we cannot say that a FERC decision to authorize the construction of a natural-gaspipeline, as required by its view of the public convenience and necessity, implicates any federally protected property right.1

The Amendment is unlike traditional or even new property in yet other respects. For one thing, the right to a preserved environment cannot be bought or sold—and thus has no “ascertainable monetary value,” as the Supreme Court’s “property-as-entitlement cases have implicitly required.”Town of Castle Rock, 545 U.S. at 766 (quotation marksomitted). Moreover, environmental quality depends on many factors beyond Pennsylvania’s control—including acts of other governments, acts of millions of private parties, and natural phenomena ranging from catastrophic events to ordinary weather patterns

Finally, the rights created by the Amendment bind only state and local government, not the federal government. The Amendment appears within the Declaration of Rights of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which sets forth a “social contract” between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its people. See Robinson Twp., 83 A.3d at 947. The Declaration’s various provisions—many of which track the federal Bill of Rights—thus confer rights specifically as against the Commonwealth. See, e.g., Pa. Const. art. I, § 3 (religious freedom); id. art. I, § 6 (trial by jury); id. art. I, § 7 (freedom of press and speech). Riverkeeper cites no precedent even remotely suggesting that these state constitutional rights purport to impose substantive obligations on the federal government. To the contrary, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court repeatedly has described the Declaration of Rights as limiting only the power of “state government,” Robinson Twp., 83 A.3d at 948; see also Penn. Envtl. Def. Found., 161 A.3d at 930–31, and the Amendment likewise as binding only “state or local” government, Robinson Twp., 83 A.3d at 952; see also Penn. Envtl. Def. Found., 161 A.3d at 931. 

For all of these reasons, we conclude that the Environmental Rights Amendment does not create federally protected liberty or property interests, much less ones that FERC could infringe.

That’s pretty definitive. The court says “state-created right to clean air, pure water, and preservation of the environment does not qualify as a federally protected “property” interest.” This means the Federal courts are the place to go assert what are Federally protected due process rights, which are almost always involved when environmental special interests set to make wildernesses.

The Environmental Rights Amendment and similar vagaries cannot be used to deprive landowners of those due process rights. Environmental extremists have imagined they have a claim on lands by merely gazing upon and admiring the beauty of those lands (or speculating on threats to those lands). When they now go to court to steal those lands through bans, moratoriums and the like, based on such vague assertions of interests and rights, they may find it rough going. Thank you, Maya!

The post Maya Strikes Out in Court Again; On Environmental Rights Amendment appeared first on Natural Gas Now.

President Trump is reportedly considering tapping the nation’s stockpile of emergency oil supplies as prices at the pump remain stubbornly elevated.

The administration is considering selling 5 million to 30 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve into the market, two sources with knowledge of the situation told Bloomberg News.

The administration is also mulling a larger release that would be coordinated with other nations, the sources said.

Fatih Birol, director of the International Energy Agency, recently told attendees at a private dinner that his organization was considering a strategic release, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people who attended the event.

Trump has lately expressed frustration at oil and gas prices, blaming OPEC on Twitter and demanding that the 15-member producer group hike output to stop crude costs from bubbling up, Kallanish Energy reports.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is currently $2.88, up about 60 cents from a year ago, according to AAA.

OPEC has propped up prices since January 2017 by limiting its supply, but the slow-and-steady rally accelerated earlier this year when Trump restored sanctions on Iran, the world’s fifth largest oil producer.

Prices have also risen on production declines in major producing nations like Venezuela and Angola and supply disruptions in Libya and Canada.

Many analysts are skeptical top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia can offset the looming drop in Iran’s exports and disruptions elsewhere. Trump’s aggressive bid to remove Iranian barrels from the market could boost gasoline prices into the fall, depriving Americans of the fuel price relief they usually get, just as they head to the polls, analysts recently told CNBC.

Rumors and speculation that Trump could release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve have been creeping into the market in recent weeks.

Gary Ross, head of global oil analytics at S&P Global Platts, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last week people are worried Trump could draw down the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) because he is worried about gasoline prices heading into the midterm elections.

The U.S. currently holds 660 million barrels of oil in reserve. The reserve was established after the 1970s oil crisis to ensure the U.S. economy would not suffer shocks in times of tight supply. It has only been used three times to counter import cutoffs or for foreign policy purposes.

Tom.jpg?resize=75%2C95Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

Natural Gas NOW readers pass along a lot of stuff every week about natural gas, fractivist antics, emissions, renewables, and other news relating to energy. As usual, emphasis is added.

What the Elites Have Planned for Us to Fight Global Warming

No one is more elitist than Michael Bloomberg, the erstwhile Mayor of New York City, and now his Bloomberg News is pushing a scheme to take away your bacon and replace it with ground up crickets. The goal, of course, is to save the planet from global warming. Assuming the planet needs to be saved, natural gas has done more to lower CO2 emissions than anything else, but Bloomberg wants to change our menus:

Insects, already part of the diets of 2 billion people, mainly in Asia, are set to reach more dining tables as consumer concern about the environmental and social costs of producing beef, pork and poultry overrides the yuck factor of eating bug-filled burger. Using little land and emitting a fraction of the greenhouses gases generated by cattle, that appeal will grow as a surging population stretches scarce global resources.

Producing a kilogram of crickets takes less than a fifth of the feed that cattle eat to yield the same amount of beef, according to the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization…


Package of frozen crickets prepared as alternative to your bacon or steak

“Crickets are the least-scary bug,” said Radek Husek, the co-founder of Prague and London-based SENS Foods Ltd., a maker of cricket flour for protein bars and bread.

“People are really scared to eat a whole bug, but it’s a much different story when they know that actually the bug is ground into powder and they cannot see it.”

This is the kind of nonsense our elites are prepared to first sell, and then later impose on us, for the sake of a campaign intended to grease the kids for their own special interest projects. As for me, I say let’s calm down a bit and relax over a nice steak dinner, cooked on a propane or natural gas grill.

NJ Spotlight Serves As Jumpin’ Jeff Tittel’s Press Agent

NJ Spotlight, like StateImpactPA, is funded by the Haas family, otherwise known as the William Penn Foundation, to push environmental special interests. The outlet, in fact, has received over $1 million from the Foundation over the last four years to “report, write, and publish stories and multimedia projects on water quality in the Delaware River watershed, and host educational events” — to serve as fractivist shills. That’s why every other story seems to feature Jumpin’ Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club opposing some news natural gas project. The latest is an article featuring his opposition to the conversion of an old paper plant site (brownfield) to a relatively small natural gas fired electrical generating plant:

A proposal to build a power plant on the Musconetcong River has obtained an exemption from Highlands rules but faces a bigger hurdle in complying with state water quality regulations.

The state Department of Environmental Protection approved the Highlands exemption for the Phoenix Energy Center to redevelop a 25-acre property along the river in Holland Township…


“Pristine” Highlands site Jumpin’ Jeff says shouldn’t be redeveloped for a clean natural gas power plant

The applicant, Abatis Advisors, is seeking to build a 663-megawatt power plant on the site of a former paper mill on the Musconetcong, one of the few rivers in the state classified as a Category 1 (C1) stream, the designation given to the most pristine waterways.

The project is located in the Highlands Preservation Area, but the state agency ruled it qualified for an exemption under the Highlands regulations governing redevelopment of former sites where building already has occurred.

The approval surprised some environmentalists, who wanted the project rejected before it starts applying for additional permits.

Tittel argued the rationale behind the Highlands exemption provision was to allow small developments that benefit the region without threatening the ecosystem. “The whole purpose of passing the Highlands Act was to prevent massive projects like this,’’ he said.

What Jumpin’ Jeff reveals in these comments is what he and his enablers are all about; resisting change, stopping growth, killing opportunity and parkifying a chunk of New Jersey as the playground for elites of the current generation. A modern gas-fired power plant will only help Garden Staters and their environment, replacing a brownfield eyesore and other far dirtier sources of electricity, but he’s against it. What more do we need to know?

Will the CELDF Bag Another Sucker?

The Marxist CELDF keeps finding more suckers among those who are themselves Marxists or too dumb to recognize Marxism when they see it. It looks Columbus, Ohio is the latest sucker the CELDF hopes to bag, as the pompous Tom Linzey (who’s never had a real job) tries to perpetrates another con. His record, of course, is a long list of losses at the expense of CELDF clients as Federal courts overrule him time after time, sanction him and throw his arguments out of court. Yet, he keeps finding new prospects as wealthy foundations fund his extremist outreach:

A local grassroots campaign to give Columbusites the “legal teeth” to fight air, water and soil pollution has garnered enough support to get on the November ballot.

Dubbed the Community Bill of Rights, the ordinance is an amendment to the Ohio State Constitution that would establish local governance over oil and gas activities taking place within the City of Columbus. It’d also enable residents to hold companies liable for oil and gas activities in neighboring municipalities, should they harm the water, air or soil of Columbus…


The latest CELDF suckers?

Their effort is backed by a national non-profit, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), which aims to wrest jurisdiction over oil and gas activities from states to individual municipalities. Cities in Ohio are using the nonprofit’s framework as a way to reclaim jurisdiction on permitting, installation and regulatory enforcement of the state’s wells from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), which has had complete control since the Ohio House and Senate passed House Bill 278 in 2004.

So, here we go again. There are always enough true-believer dunderheads around to get this stuff started and it always ends in an essentially bankrupted community left to clean up big Tom’s mess, as he moves onto his next circus.

The Hydrocarbon Hypocrisy of a Corruptocrat Fighting Sex and the City

City Journal, is an on-line quarterly magazine of urban affairs, published by the Manhattan Institute, a fantastic organization proving good things do exist in the belly of the beast. It published a great story by Bob McManus yesterday. It linked to one of my posts about Sex and the City has-been Cynthia Nixon, which was very nice. My favorite website Instapundit, in turn, linked to the McManus piece, which was even nicer, but here is the best part:

Governor Andrew Cuomo and activist/actress Cynthia Nixon, opponents in September’s New York gubernatorial primary, don’t agree on much—but they are hell on hydrocarbons. Cuomo has outlawed natural-gas hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Empire State, while Nixon wants to ban fracked gas from even entering the state…

Both candidates promise to block new gas pipelines in New York, too.

The two arrived at their identical positions from opposite directions. Nixon is a provocateur, not a policy macher. Her views are as otherworldly as her prescriptions. Cuomo, meanwhile, is unencumbered by ideals. His positions are calibrated for maximum political benefit—he polled for almost two years before imposing his fracking ban, for example.

Cuomo knows that hydrocarbons fuel our civilization. They certainly power New York, an energy-gobbling giant; it leads American states in commercial consumption of natural gas and is near the top in most other categories as well. But because of Cuomo’s ban, the state produces virtually no natural gas, despite vast hydrocarbon reserves in the Marcellus Shale formation, located in the state’s needlessly impoverished Southern Tier. Neither Cuomo nor Nixon proposes substantive energy alternatives.

Like all New Yorkers, the governor, a two-term Democrat, and Nixon, of Sex and the City fame, rely heavily on hydrocarbons themselves. Cuomo flits about the state in a helicopter, and he commands a massive, natural-gas-heated government complex in Albany. And what would Sex and the City have been without the energy-sucking bright lights of Broadway? (Nixon’s NoHo building uses gas heat—small beer, to be sure, but shouldn’t prohibitionists be held to a higher standard?)…


Energy extraction of any sort comes with unavoidable hazards and inconveniences. Grown-ups understand that benefits must be balanced against risk. New York’s leaders, especially Cuomo, refuse to accept these realities. Cuomo cloaks himself in green rhetoric while exploiting the anti-development instincts common in the post-industrial regions of New York—upstate university centers, the Hudson Valley, and, of course, Manhattan and the metastasizing hipster havens of Brooklyn and Queens…

Banning fracking to avoid social costs and make political hay while prospering from the use of hydrocarbons mined elsewhere is the height of arrogance and hypocrisy, not to mention dishonest policymaking. It leads to unhappy economic consequences—just ask upstate residents—and diminishes public confidence in government. Not fracking, in other words, has costs of its own. But don’t expect Cuomo or Nixon to tell you about it.

McManus puts his finger on the fact that most drives me in the fracking debate. It’s a class war where hypocrite hipsters who suppose they are of superior virtue insist on signaling it at the expense of poor and moderate income rural residents who only want to supply them with the gas they use every day so as to be able to support their own families. The condescending hipsters and politicians who pander to them simply pretend Upstate doesn’t exist and that’s why the Empire State is the mess it is.

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