November’s Elections Skew Current U.S. Energy Activities

Rayola Dougher, senior economist with the Washington, D.C.-based American Petroleum Institute, attributes the gas and oil volumes coming to market to technical innovations.

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Now that the domestic political-primary-elections process has ended, “we need to get the [presidential] candidates to focus on energy,” states Rayola Dougher, senior economist with the Washington, D.C.-based American Petroleum Institute (API, www.api.org). “We would like more focus on the opportunities we have in the United States.”

Opportunities produce jobs. And one reality affecting the jobs mix is very low natural-gas prices arising from a sharp increase in natural-gas production, Dougher says. “The prices attract manufacturing and chemical companies. And low-price natural gas is forcing coal companies to look at lowering costs.” How low have natural-gas prices dropped? As of mid-April, the Associated Press reported $2 per 1,000 cubic feet, which the news wire claims was the lowest in a decade.

Dougher suggests that some analysts at Deutsche Bank, the Frankfurt, Germany-headquartered global financial services provider, call this high-production/low-price a megatrend. She attributes the gas and oil volumes coming to market to technical innovations, especially in getting oil and natural gas from fuel-bearing shales. “We’re on a roll” with that, she says.

But still, Dougher notes that 87 percent of the domestic offshore energy remains unavailable for development—and has been for decades. She says that’s due to politically driven decisions by former presidents and inaction from Congress. With that said, crude oil production has had a compound annual growth rate of 13 percent since 2008, and that’s after declining outputs year-over-year from 1992 through 2008 (Source U.S. Energy Information Adminstration).

C. Kenna Amos, ckamosjr@earthlink.net, is an Automation World Contributing Editor

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