Varun Sivaram

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"

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 »

The Shale Boom Won’t Be Repeated on Federal Lands

by Michael Levi
Gray wolves are seen nearing a Bison in Yellowstone National Park in this undated handout photograph released on February 21, 2008. Gray wolves are seen nearing a Bison in Yellowstone National Park in this undated handout photograph released on February 21, 2008 (Ho New/Courtesy Reuters).

A visit to Yellowstone National Park last week has me thinking about federal lands. In the fight over whether the U.S. oil and gas boom is happening because of or despite President Obama’s policies, perhaps the most commonly heard fact is this: oil production is surging on non-federal lands but is down on lands controlled by Washington. This observation, many claim, shows that oil and gas production is up despite U.S. policy to thwart it – and a policy reversal would send oil and gas output far higher. Read more »

Drilling into the American Energy Boom, in Four Charts

by Blake Clayton

One interesting feature of the U.S. hydrocarbon boom is the widening gap between the industry’s interest in drilling for oil and other liquids versus dry natural gas. It’s all about economics: the disparity in prevailing market prices and outlook between these commodities is dictating companies’ willingness to sink money into, and bear the risk of, trying to produce them. Read more »

The (Possible) Problem With Methanol

by Michael Levi

People looking for a way that natural gas could break oil’s stranglehold on the U.S. transport system typically run into forbidding limits. Gas could be used to run power plants that would charge electric cars, but those cars are currently too expensive for most drivers. Gas could be compressed and used directly in automobiles, but limited range and fueling infrastructure are big barriers. Natural gas could also be converted into gasoline or diesel, but the costs and risks of building plants can scare investors. Read more »

Oil Boom… And Risk Management

by Blake Clayton

A story on NPR yesterday morning, “The Downsides of Living in an Oil Boomtown,” had an interesting portrait of the economic effects of high oil prices and booming oil production on Williston, North Dakota. The frenzied pace of job creation has led to high wages but also high turnover. A leap in demand for local goods like housing has caused massive inflation in housing prices and day care services. A similar story could be told of many other rural communities in states like Pennsylvania and Texas where the ramp up in oil and gas drilling activity has been a sudden shock on an otherwise rather static business scene. Read more »