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Energy, Security, and Climate

CFR experts examine the science and foreign policy surrounding climate change, energy, and nuclear security.

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Showing posts for "Natural Gas"

A Faustian Bargain for Ukraine?

by Michael Levi

Earlier today Russia intervened dramatically in Ukraine’s political turmoil with an offer to sell the cash-strapped country deeply discounted natural gas. The New York Times captured the prevailing wisdom when it wrote that it was unclear what “Russia might receive in return for its assistance”. Here’s an answer: Russia will receive immense leverage over Ukraine. Indeed history suggests that cheap energy is much more effective than expensive energy as a true source of geopolitical leverage. Read more »

Thoughts on a New Methane Study

by Michael Levi

A new paper in press at Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) claims to show methane leakage of between 6.2 and 11.7 percent in Uintah County, Utah. This is the same study that got pre-review press in January after a co-author claimed, in a conference presentation, to have observed 9 percent leakage. The study team, which includes many of the same people who claimed last year to have observed massive methane leakage in Colorado, once again uses their results to question the “bottom-up” estimates upon which the EPA relies, saying that those lowball actual emissions. Read more »

Energy, Industry, and the Countryside

by Michael Levi

I’ve argued frequently that shale gas and tight oil development can be done safely, given the right practices and the right rules to ensure that those are followed. Over the past month, as I’ve traveled and talked to people about The Power Surge, I’ve heard one powerful countervailing sentiment several times: Even if fracking is done right, aren’t we talking about the industrialization of the countryside? And is that really something we should accept? Read more »

How to Improve the LNG Export Approval Process

by Michael Levi

One of the odder aspects of how applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) are being handled is the “first come, first served” approach. The Department of Energy (DOE) has said that it will consider applications to export LNG to countries with which the United States does not have applicable free trade agreements (non-FTA countries) in the order that they are filed with the DOE, regardless of any other merits or weaknesses of the individual applications. This is led to a stampede of questionable applications driven by a desire to be first in line. Read more »

Freeport LNG Export Terminal Approved; What Does it Mean?

by Michael Levi

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced this afternoon that it had conditionally approved the application of Freeport LNG Expansion LP and FLNG Liquefaction LLC to export up to 1.4 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries with which the United States does not have special free trade agreements. I’ve written at some length before about the potential consequences of LNG exports in general. But what might the exports from this particular facility mean? Read more »

Could Cheap Natural Gas Undermine a Carbon Price?

by Michael Levi

Cheap natural gas has split the climate debate into two camps. One celebrates the development, emphasizing that natural gas cuts emissions when it replaces coal, and arguing that abundant gas reduces emissions as a result. The other bemoans the news, noting that inexpensive natural gas makes it tougher for zero-carbon energy to compete and arguing that this will ultimately result in higher, not lower, emissions. Read more »

Could the North American Shale Boom Happen Elsewhere?

by Blake Clayton

The dramatic takeoff in oil and gas production in the United States and Canada over the last half decade has left many people asking whether a similar boom will happen in other countries. It’s a good question. To answer it, you have to start by identifying what critical factors enabled the boom to happen here, then figure out whether these same enabling factors exist elsewhere. Read more »

An Enlightening Study on Shale Gas and Water Quality

by Michael Levi

A team at Resources For the Future (RFF) led by Sheila Olmstead has a neat new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that takes a rigorous look at water pollution due to shale gas development in Pennsylvania. (Hat tip: John Quigley.) The team collected thousands of data points measuring shale gas activity and water quality across a wide geographic area and more-than-ten-year span, and then used careful statistical analysis to test a series of hypotheses about how shale gas development might have affected water quality. What’s particularly interesting about this study is that it doesn’t require physical assumptions. It can also shed light on the cumulative impacts of large-scale shale gas development, going beyond analysis at the level of single pads and wells. Read more »