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Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Increasing US Oil/Gas Production Damaging Progressive Agenda

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 14, 2013

The article below was posted on BBC News earlier this month.  With the noise emanating from the three scandals currently infecting the Obama Administration, this type of important story is not getting the press it deserves.

There is a game changing events occurring in world’s energy production, a result of new drilling technologies.  More abundant and cheaper energy leads to higher standards of living and a happier and better fed world population.  This is truly good news, however, not for Leftist environmentalists.  Ever since the decrepit days of the Carter Administration, Leftists have ranted over the supposed dwindling world energy supplies.  When this narrative began to be proven false in the 1990s, the Left then pivoted and jumped on the man-made global warming bandwagon.

The actual agenda of Progressives of the Left has nothing to do with energy conservation or global warming.  Their agenda is purely political, focusing on power and consolidating their governmental authority.  The current scandals ongoing in Washington show the danger to individual liberties emanating from the Left.

Finally, given how wrong the Left’s science was on the supposed shortage of carbon-based fuels, it is difficult to trust their science relating to man-made global warming, a much more complicated issue to predict.

US shale oil supply shock shifts global power balance

4 May 2013

A steeper-than-expected rise in US shale oil reserves is about to change the global balance of power between new and existing producers, a report says.

Over the next five years, the US will account for a third of new oil supplies, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).  The US will change from the world’s leading importer of oil to a net exporter.  Demand for oil from Middle-East oil producers is set to slow as a result.

“North America has set off a supply shock that is sending ripples throughout the world,” said IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven.  The surge in US production will reshape the whole industry, according to the IEA, which made the prediction in its closely-watched bi-annual report examining trends in oil supply and demand over the next five years.  The IEA said it expected the US to overtake Russia as the world’s biggest gas producer by 2015 and to become “all but self-sufficient” in its energy needs by about 2035.

The rise in US production means the world’s reliance on oil from traditional oil producing countries in the Middle East, which make up Opec (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), would end soon, according to the report.

Slower growth

US production is set to grow by 3.9 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) from 2012 to 2018, accounting for some two-thirds of the predicted growth in traditional non-Opec production, according to the IEA.  Meanwhile, global oil demand is set to increase by 8% which would be met mainly by non-Opec supplies, the report said.

The IEA still expects production capacity among traditional Opec suppliers in the Middle East to continue to grow over the next five years, but at a slower rate.  Opec capacity, which counts for 35% of today’s global oil output, is expected to rise by 1.75 million bpd to 36.75 million bpd in 2018, about 750,000 bpd less than predicted in the IEA’s 2012 forecast.  The IEA cites the “growing insecurity in North and Sub-Saharan Africa” in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings as a key reason for the slowdown.  “The regional fallout from the ‘Arab Spring’ is taking a toll on investment and capacity growth,” the IEA said.


The sharp rise in US oil production is largely thanks to shale oil, a product many have hailed as the saviour of the US energy market.  Fracking, the process of blasting water at high pressure into shale rock to release oil (or gas) held within it, has become widespread in the US.  But critics of shale oil point to environmental concerns such as high water use and possible water contamination, the release of methane and, to a lesser extent, earth tremors caused by drilling.  The process has been banned in France, while the UK recently lifted a moratorium on drilling for shale gas.


Posted in Energy, Environmentalists | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

New York Times Pans Tesla Model S

Posted by Steve Markowitz on February 11, 2013

tesla_model_sMoney.CNN.com reported that a New York Times auto review had some negative comments to make about the electric car Model S produced by Tesla.  The reviewer took the Model S on a drive down the East Coast and had difficulty finding charging stations.  He attempted to conserve power by turning off the car’s interior heat on this winter ride, but with little benefit.  The car’s battery went dead before expected requiring the auto had to be towed the next charging station that was 45 minutes away.

The Tesla Model S is another “Car the Year” failure for the electric car industry.  It joins the Chevy Volt in owning this dubious distinction.

The Model S and Chevy Volt are examples of the failures that occur when governments attempt to control markets.  It is possible that someday the technology will be available allowing electric cars to be successful in the market.  That is not the case today.  Instead, these boondoggles represent government wishes and not market realities.

It should not be surprising that the green industry so heavily promoted by Pres. Obama has been a failure on many fronts.  The President has never run a company nor does it seem he took the most basic economic courses.  Wishing for result is not a successful product or marketing strategy.

Posted in Energy | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A123 Systems Fails Costing Taxpayers $249 Million

Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 16, 2012

Forbes reported today on the bankruptcy filing by A123 Systems of Waltham, Massachusetts.  Not only will this company’s failure hurt employees and suppliers, but it will also take US taxpayers to the cleaners once more.  A123 Systems is another green energy company backed by the Obama Administration that has failed.  The US Department of Energy gave a $249 million grant to this producer of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars.  This huge loss is now added to the nearly half billion loss that taxpayers took on the Obama Administration’s bad bet on Solyndra.

Making matters worse, Bloomberg reported that A123 Systems was attempting to sell a significant stake in the company to a Chinese auto parts manufacturer in exchange for a capital infusion.  With the bankruptcy, the Chinese can now by this US taxpayer-funded technology for pennies on the dollar.

President Obama and his Leftist compatriots have the naïve belief that they can dictate the needs of markets and technological realities through sheer will, even though they have little experience in either area.  It is therefore not surprising that they have invested in failed enterprises and ideas and have squandered taxpayer money.  That naivety was apparent in 2010 when President Obama made the following claims concerning the Administration’s decision to invest in the now failed A123 Systems:

This is about the birth of an entire new industry in America – an industry that’s going to be central to the next generation of cars.  When folks lift up their hoods on the cars of the future, I want them to see engines and batteries that are stamped: Made in America.”

Crony-capitalism and bad economics and science will be the legacy of the Obama

Posted in Energy, Government Waste | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gasoline Prices Double Under President Obama

Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 5, 2012

We know, it has to be Bush’s fault.

Posted in Energy | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

U.S. Oil Production Beginning to Boom

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 27, 2012

Since the late 1960s the mantra from politicians government bureaucrats, particularly those on the Left, has been that the world with the United States in particular is running out of fossil fuels.  This claim, like so many other dire warnings of Progressives, was dead wrong.

One of the earlier manifestations of the United States depleted energy claims came from Pres. Jimmy Carter in the 1970s.  Carter claimed that the United States would run out of natural gas in 10 years.  Approximately 35 years later not only has the United States not run out of the gas, but we are in the midst of a natural gas glut with prices dropping significantly.

Another of Carter’s infamous calls was for the creation of the US Department of Energy created specifically to lessen America’s dependence on foreign oil, specifically oil from the Middle East.  When the Department of Energy was created, the United States imported less than 35% of its oil annually.  Three decades later the US imported over 60% of its oil per year.  Along the way, Department of Energy wasted tens of billions of dollars and is larger today than ever.

Now, the US is turning the corner on its reliance on imported oil.  This has is not occurred due to any action of the Department of Energy, but instead came from advancing technologies that includes fracking, which has unlocked huge reserves of oil and natural gas.  For example, these newer technologies have turned North Dakota into a major oil producer, now surpassing Alaska.

The Wall Street Journal published an article about America’s resurgent position in world energy production that reviews the following:

  • America’s reliance on Middle Eastern oil will be cut in half by 2020 and may completely end by 2035.
  • By the end of this decade half of America’s crude oil needs will be produced in the United States with over 80% coming from the side of the Atlantic.  Canada alone has the world’s third largest proven oil reserves.  Money spent within the Hemisphere is better for America’s security and economy.
  • America currently imports 4 million barrels of oil a day from the Middle East.  That amount will decrease to about 2.5 million barrels by the end of the decade.
  • During 2011 the United States became a net exporter of refined energy products.  Experts predict this will continue for at least another 10 years.
  • Between October 2011 and March 2012, US oil production rose by 6% to more than 6 million barrels per day for the first time in 14 years.  This remarkable increase occurred after a nearly 40 year decline.

While advancing technologies played a large role in increasing America’s oil and gas production, the action of the free market also played a substantial role.  As energy prices skyrocketed in the late 1990s, liberal politicians screamed foul and attacked suppliers suggesting regulating profits to address increasing energy prices.  Such regulations would have been exactly the wrong approach and ultimately would have hurt consumers.  Instead, the increasing prices made Canada’s oil sands-reserves profitable with investment in extracting this oil skyrocketing.  In addition, worldwide investments in oil and gas exploration jumped due to the increase prices.  In North America, this investment surged to 48% of global oil investment to $320 billion, up from only 39% of the worldwide investment in 2003.  Similar examples can be shown in other Western Hemisphere countries including Brazil.

The increased energy prices that began in the late 1990s is beginning to cause production increases and lower energy prices.  Raymond James has recently forecasted 2013 crude prices at $65 per barrel, down from its current $83.  Lower demand only explains part of this decrease.  Increasing production is a significant issue.

Pres. Barack Obama and the radical environmentalists have thrown many roadblocks in the way of developing America’s vast energy reserves.  A recent example is Obama’s decision to shelve the Keystone XL pipeline that would have brought more Canadian oil to the United States.  These roadblocks were made to further Progressives’ goal of promoting green energy.  They have failed on two fronts.  First, solar and wind energy are not ready for prime time and will not be major sources of energy for years to come.  The President’s failure to promote green energy over fossil fuels again proves the futility of politicians’ attempts to manipulate markets.

Incredibly, President Obama recently attempted to claim responsibility for America’s fossil fuel boom stating: “We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.”  Now that’s chutzpah!

Posted in Energy, Oil | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

US Department of Energy has as Many Vehicles as Staff

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 20, 2012

The Congressional Energy and Commerce subcommittee held a hearing this week on some of the spending practices of the US Department of Energy.  The video below shows a remarkable interchange between Committee member Joe Barton of Texas and the DOE’s Inspector General Greg Friedman.  The information included in the video is yet another example of the waste and inefficiency of government.  At the same time, it could compete with the comedy of a Laurel and Hardy movie.

The US Department of Energy has about 15,000 employees.  Congressman Barton asked DOE’s Friedman about the total number of vehicles the department owned.  Realizing the answer would show outrageous waste by the DOE, Friedman sparred with Barton claiming ignorance of the number.  Finally, he admitted that the Department owns about 15,000 vehicles, approximately one for each of its employees.

On top of the remarkable admission by Friedman about the DOE’s huge fleet of vehicles, he also admitted that the Department spent hundreds of millions yearly on travel and called a $60 million portion of this budget “paltry”.  Yikes!

The whole premise behind the US Department of Energy is an outrage.  This department was created during the Carter Administration for the expressed purpose of lessening America’s dependence on imported oil at a time when we imported approximately 30% of our oil.  Today that number is over 60%.  As is often said, with friends like this who needs enemies?

Posted in Energy, Government Waste | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Another Green Company Strikes Out

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 9, 2012

The Wall Street Journal reported that late last month the electric van manufacturer, Azure Dynamics Corp., closed its doors laying off 120 workers.  Azure electrified Ford vans for customers who do not exist in large enough numbers.  According to the Journal, the company sold 800 vans in 2011 or only about one third the amount needed just to reach breakeven.

Azure joins an extensive list of failing green auto companies that includes:

Fisker Automotive – This firm has had recalls, a failed test with Consumer Reports, and weak sales.

A123 Systems – A supplier of batteries for green autos, it has encountered severe technical problems resulting in recalls costing in excess of $50 million.

Bright Automotive – This Michigan-based company failed to get a government loan and has since shut down.

Think Global – A plug in car company from Indian, it has declared bankruptcy.

In addition to the above, the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf have failed in the marketplace due to weak consumer demand even with the spike in gasoline prices.  Add other green venture failures and this list becomes one of an incredible boondoggle.

The failures have not deterred Progressive s in the Obama Administration.  Last week the US Department of Energy announced it was in fact increasing loans to green companies proving once again the inability of governments to properly manage the People’s money.  Only by cutting the amount of funds available to these knuckleheads can this madness be brought under control.

The US Department of Energy was formed in the late 1970’s by the Carter administration with its goal to cut U.S. oil imports.  Hundreds of billions of dollars and three decades later and America’s percentage of oil imports has doubled.  The US DEO continues to waste the People’s money.

Posted in Energy, Government Ineptness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ener1, Another Government-Backed Green Company, Files for Bankruptcy

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 29, 2012

ABC News has reported that on last Thursday, yet another green energy company backed by US taxpayers declared bankruptcy.  This time it was lithium-ion battery manufacturer Ener1’s turn to bite the dust.  Ener1 produced batteries for electric cars, a market that does not exist yet.  In announcing the decision, Ener1’s CEO Alex Sorokin said:

“This was a difficult, but necessary, decision for our company.  We moved aggressively to reduce costs and shift focus when the marketplace did not evolve as quickly as anticipated.  Our business plan was impacted when demand for lithium-ion batteries slowed due to lower-than-expected adoption for electric passenger vehicles.”

This remarkable statement shows the illogic and downright idiotic business decisions taken by the Obama administration.  It once again proves that just because a government official believes the green energy is good does not make it a viable business.

In 2009, the US Department of Energy awarded Ener1 a $118 million grant as part of Obama’s Stimulus Package.  As part of the Administration’s promotion of this expenditure, Vice President Joe Biden visited Ener1’s Indiana plant a bit over a year ago for a photo-op.  This publicity stunt for another governmental boondoggle in the green energy field matches the May 2010 photo-op of President Obama visiting the Solyndra plant in California.  Solyndra, who is now the target of a federal criminal investigation, received over $530 million in loans from the Stimulus Package before going belly up.  It seems that receiving a hundred million dollars of taxpayer funds will only get you a visit from VP Biden.  To get the big guy, a company needs to take hundreds of millions of taxpayer cash.

A third green energy company, Beacon Power of Massachusetts, got a mere $43 million in Stimulus funds before filing bankruptcy protection.   Starting to see a trend?

President Obama’s green energy program is a failure on many levels.  First, green energy is not ready for prime time.  It can either produce large quantities of power, nor can it produce it economically.  The funds that this Administration dumped into green energy companies has merely enriched a few Americans at the expense of the many.  Ultimately, the markets decide what energy to use, not some government politician or bureaucrat.

What is remarkable about this President is that he is so unapologetic.  In fact, instead of apologizing to the taxpayers that funded the boondoggles, Obama has indicated that he will do more of the same.  This points to perhaps the greatest problem of Progressive governments; lack of accountability.  Everyone in the Administration from the president on down, as well of the Congress, who supported these green energy boondoggles should be fired and joined the list of the too many unemployed Americans with their programs continue to hurt.

Posted in Energy, Government Waste | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obama to Oppose Keystone Oil Pipeline

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 18, 2012

According to CNN, Democratic sources have stated that President Obama will announce his decision to oppose the Keystone oil pipeline.  The proposed pipeline would run from Alberta Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.

President Obama’s opposition to the pipeline serves no one except to appease the radical environmentalists that are important part of his base.  While pipelines crisscross the country by the thousands, the President dithers based on some lame environmental excuses.

In learning of Obama’s decision, House Speaker John Boehner stated: “This is not good for our country.  The president wants to put this off until it’s convenient for him to make a decision.  That means after the next election.  The fact is the American people are asking the question right now, ‘Where are the jobs?’

The proposed Keystone oil pipeline would create thousands of jobs, increase tax revenues, and bring more oil United States from a reliable and friendly source.  Obama’s opposition to it is purely political and bad for the Country.  More of the hope and change promised by this president.

Posted in Energy, Environmentalists | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Overcapacity Hits Wind Turbine Industry

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 13, 2012

Wall Street Journal reported today that Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark, the world’s largest builder of wind turbines, announced it is laying off 10% of its workforce, approximately 2,300 workers.  Vestas also announced that should the United States not extend it subsidies on renewable energy, it will then lay off 1,600 additional workers located in the United States.

The Vestas’ layoff is another example of the disruptions and inefficiencies caused in markets when governments intervene.  The bubble caused in the housing market was due to governmental intervention in the mortgage market.  Similarly, without subsidies the renewable energy industry that includes wind turbine production would have been much smaller.  As a result, when subsidies decrease or are eliminated, as they always must, industries implode.  The Journal reports that the excess supply of wind turbines will continue for another five years.

Capitalism is often criticized for its cold and calculative methods for correcting dislocations in the market, i.e. bringing supply and demand back into balance.  Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is taking some heat from fellow Republicans on this very issue.  However, when governments create policies that result in workers losing jobs, is too often chalked up as merely a mistake.  When it comes to subsidizing renewable energy industries, the government’s track record is miserable.  We can now add Vestas to the long list of failures that includes the Solyndra loss of $500 million of taxpayer money.

Posted in Energy, Governmental Intervention | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »