Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage.

DOE slashes gas estimate for Marcellus Shale

Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette
Federal government analysts on Monday slashed their estimate of the natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale formation, and at least one major producer announced plans to cut in half its expenditures on new gas leases in the wake of dropping prices.

The U.S. Department of Energy cut its estimate of the Marcellus reserves from 410 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to 141 trillion cubic feet, citing better production information that emerges as drilling operations in the region mature and the exclusion of data from the pre-shale area.

“Drilling in the Marcellus accelerated rapidly in 2010 and 2011, so that there is far more information available today than a year ago,” said the DOE’s Energy Information Administration.

Last summer, a new estimate from the U.S. Geological Survey had caused a stir, because it was both much smaller than the existing EIA numbers and much greater than the previous USGS figures…
(23 January 2012)

DOE report projects greater coal production drop

Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette
Coal production in Central Appalachia may not decline as sharply over the next five years as previously projected, but the long-term forecast looks even worse, according to a new U.S. Department of Energy report.

On Monday, DOE’s Energy Information Administration increased its estimates of annual regional coal production for each of the next five years, but then projected steeper drops through the rest of the decade, with output reaching a low of 77 million tons in 2020.

Overall, production from Central Appalachia — mostly Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky — is expected to drop to about 86 million tons, a decline of nearly 54 percent between 2011 and 2035…
(23 January 2012)

Obama makes strong call for clean energy — oh, and drilling and fracking too

Lisa Hymas, Grist
Clean energy rocks. Nice, deserving people get jobs at wind-turbine plants. Solyndra-style investments are critical. Oil-company subsidies suck. Energy efficiency is an economic engine. We need to drill, baby, drill. And we need to frack, baby, frack.

Those weren’t the words, but those were the sentiments in the energy portion of President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. He dedicated a significant chunk of the speech to energy issues, making an unexpectedly vigorous appeal for renewable power, cleantech investment, and efficiency — as well as for natural-gas fracking and oil drilling…
(25 January 2012)

Obama sets out ‘all-of-the-above’ clean energy policy

James Murray, Business Green
President Obama used his State of the Union address last night to again call on Congress to deliver a more effective energy policy that ends subsidies to the oil industry, bolsters US energy security, and steps up support for clean energy.

Establishing energy reforms as one of the central themes of his address, Obama began the speech by arguing the US should seek “a future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world”.

He set out the case for government intervention in the energy market, arguing that federal support for emerging clean energy technologies is helping to create jobs and enhance energy securities.

“Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail,” he said, in a thinly veiled reference to solar company Solyndra, which collapsed after receiving government support. “But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy … I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.”
He urged Congress to free up funds to support clean energy by ending all subsidies to the oil industry.

“We’ve subsidised oil companies for a century – that’s long enough,” Obama said to applause from Congress. “It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits. Create these jobs.”…
(25 January 2012)

Obama’s speech and some sober talk about the oil patch

Steve LeVine, Foreign Policy
In his State of the Union address last night, President Barack Obama spoke of the United States’ unaccustomed new impact on global energy — in addition to its habitual role as a world-class oil glutton, the U.S. is delivering a growing volume of oil and natural gas that has already shaken assumptions, and looks likely to roil geopolitics in a way favorable to Americans….

That is politics, and we are sure to hear much on this subject from both sides through November. What is most interesting from my own standpoint is the sober feel of the EIA’s findings after the growing accumulation of punch-drunk forecasts from others: From an array of our best energy minds — at ExxonMobil, BP, Daniel Yergin’s CERA and others — we have heard that, with the help of Canada and Mexico, the U.S. on the verge not only of the bright future described by the EIA, but of achieving the mythical state of energy independence (strike the operatic score.). These Wise Men foresee a doubling of North American production to a whopping 22 million barrels a day.

Among the geopolitical impacts of such a shift would be far more proportional influence from Middle Eastern and other petro-potentates. There would be more political balance.

While reporting on the EIA’s competing numbers, the Washington Post’s Brad Plumer and the Financial Times’ Javier Blas caution that the agency’s statistics may sometimes be suspect. That may be so, but what of the more enthusiastic findings from the sources mentioned above? I myself have cast doubt on them. Ultimately, everyone is conjecturing, and it seems to me that there is much to counsel in the way of restraint.
(25 January 2012)