Democrats Want Us To Forget All About These Inconvenient Energy Truths
Opinion by David Blackmon
Despite the prevailing narrative pushed by our government and most of the legacy media that the U.S. and the world are in the midst of a great energy transition, inconvenient truths stubbornly continue popping up.
Truths like the world used more oil, coal, and natural gas than ever during 2022 and is very likely to exceed those levels in 2023. Truths like grid managers in locations as diverse as Germany and Texas feel the need to reactivate mothballed coal and natural gas power plants to keep homes heated and lights on this coming winter.
Now, according to President Joe Biden’s own Energy Information Administration (EIA), both U.S. oil production and U.S. crude oil exports have reached new record levels despite the president’s oft-made promise to end the oil business entirely in just 10 years. Or is it 9 years now? Or perhaps only 8 years? It’s becoming hard to keep up.
Whatever the time frame remaining to the Biden goal, the industry itself and the consumers of its products both at home and abroad are not cooperating. Last week the EIA reported that domestic U.S. oil production hit a new record high of 13.2 million barrels per day during September, surpassing the previous high set in 2019, before the dual 2020 crashes cause by COVID-19 and by a dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
During the depths of oil’s depression in mid-2020, total U.S. oil production fell to a low of 9.7 million bopd that May. That collapse in production occurred after the price for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) actually fell to an unprecedented negative $37 per barrel on April 20. The price quickly recovered to positive territory, but restoring production amid a global pandemic has been a much slower process.
The fact that the domestic industry has been able to return to record high production in the face of the Biden regulatory onslaught and capital restricting ESG mania speaks to its amazing resilience. It is important to note that it also speaks to the ongoing rising demand both domestically and globally for oil and its many derivative products.
That demand explains why the EIA also reported that U.S. exports of crude oil have reached new record levels this year. Crude exports averaged 3.99 million barrels per day during the first half of 2023, almost 20% higher than in the first six months of 2022. This continues a trend in which America’s exports of oil overseas have risen steadily since then-President Barack Obama signed an omnibus budget bill containing language ending the 1970s-era ban on U.S. crude exports.
Somewhat less advertised but equally striking is the fact that U.S. production and exports of natural gas have also achieved new record levels during 2023. This reality might be even more impressive given the chronically low commodity prices for U.S. production that have lingered with rare interruptions for over a decade. In recent years, the U.S. industry has typically had only around 100 or slightly more active drilling rigs employed in the exploration for natural gas.
Despite these limiters, as well as being impacted by the same regulatory, capital and ESG constraints relevant to oil, U.S. gas production hit an all-time high of 3.2 trillion cubic feet during July. In April, EIA reports that America’s exports of liquefied natural gas hit a new peak of more than 375 billion cubic feet.
All these numbers and more belie rising demand all over the world for supplies of these petroleum products produced by the United States. A very good case can be made that America’s record-high production of these valuable commodities has never been more vital to the global community than it is today, given the growing number of regional conflicts in hotspots on multiple continents.
It is also important to understand and respect the vital role oil and gas play in ensuring America’s energy security, for which there is no viable substitute despite the aspirations of the President and his senior officials.
Perhaps instead of trying to do away with this vital industry, Mr. Biden might be better advised to take action to ensure its continuing health in the face of so many dangerous international challenges.
David Blackmon is an energy writer and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.