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Energy, Security, and Climate

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Showing posts for "Natural Gas"

What the TPP Means for LNG

by Michael Levi
Japan LNG TPP trans-pacific partnership trade natural gas REUTERS/Issei Kato

This post was co-written with Cole Wheeler, CFR’s research associate for energy and the environment. 

Unfettered access to U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) was reportedly a prime motivation behind Japan’s decision to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks. The United States already gives automatic approval of exports to 18 other countries with which it has special free trade agreements (FTAs), but requires distinct permits for exports to others, including Japan. Yet there has been scant (if any) reporting on this issue since the release of the final TPP text two weeks ago, and there appears to be considerable confusion about what the deal actually does. A look at the text of the agreement in the context of U.S. law confirms that it grants automatic approval of exports to Japan and the other TPP member nations. Read more »

The Other Big Energy Export News

by Michael Levi

The energy world has been abuzz this week with news that the Department of Commerce will allow exports of minimally processed condensate. This has been heralded as a “step towards a rational oil policy” and a shift that “could change the world’s energy balance”. In particular, many are speculating that this is a step toward complete elimination of the ban on crude oil exports. Read more »

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 »