Moniz: Just to be clear, our energy boom is struggling with a serious transport problem

posted at 6:41 pm on January 31, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

In addendum to my earlier post about this afternoon’s Keystone XL pipeline news from the State Department, President Obama’s own administration just can’t seem to furnish him with enough excellent reasons to quit messing around with the pipeline’s fate and finally sign off on just the sort of infrastructure project he’s always insisting can help spur job creation and create wealth. In just the past few years, the United States’ energy outlook has radically changed as technological innovations (read: fracking) have sparked a shale oil-and-gas boom. While we’re approaching record levels of domestic oil-and-gas production, the industry expanded so quickly that it pretty much leapfrogged the shipping capacity available to transport those products. Companies have increasingly been turning to rail to help get their goods to market, but if we’re going to adequately cope with our rising production levels and continue to take full economic advantage of the boom, we need to start building more pipelines, and soon — as Obama’s Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz helpfully reminded us this week.

The energy boom of the last decade that has boosted oil and gas production in the United States has outpaced the development of critical infrastructure to transport the raw and refined materials, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on Thursday.

Reflecting on a spate of accidents involving freight trains pulling tank cars full of volatile crude oil in Canada and the United States, Moniz said that infrastructure development was key, even beyond a reconsideration of rail regulations now under way by U.S. authorities.

“The core approach, really, is that our infrastructure needs to build out,” Moniz said in an interview with Reuters Insider.

“Here we have a case, especially with the production in North Dakota, where the Bakken shale (output) zoomed from essentially nothing to past 1 million barrels a day,” he said.

Hmm, that is a pickle. If only there was a pipeline route stretching all the way across the United States, from around the Bakken vicinity in the north to our refineries in the south… Preferably one that has already gone through all of the proper bureaucratic reviews and environmental reports, of course, so that some forward-thinking energy company could get started on construction right away.

Oh, wait.

One way of getting more crude oil out of the Bakken would be TransCanada Corp’s proposed Keystone pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, expected to have “onramps” to pick up oil in North Dakota.

That is all.


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Quaker Oats man is back.

bluegill on January 31, 2014 at 6:44 PM

Absolutely right. That rail disaster in Quebec was a direct result of environmentalists getting in the way of common sense pipeline projects.

Of course, it’s not the first time they’ve had blood on their hands. Won’t be the last.

Red Cloud on January 31, 2014 at 6:44 PM

Quaker Oats man is back.

bluegill on January 31, 2014 at 6:44 PM

I always think it loos like Terry Jones from Monty Python, but you’re right it does look like the Quaker Oats guy.

Flange on January 31, 2014 at 6:47 PM

expected to have “onramps” to pick up oil in North Dakota.

Onramps? Chris Christie will order them blocked.

rbj on January 31, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Just a reminder, this energy boom is despite the efforts of Obama and the Administration…not because of them.

When it comes to energy, we not only have a transport challenge to get the materials from where they are obtained to refineries, but we are also short of refineries because of decades of unwillingness to invest in that infrastructure either.

Transporting raw materials overseas to be refined and then shipped back is expensive, inefficient, and increases the risk of disasters.

Rather than picking winners / losers and trying to rig the system to make renewable energy economically viable now, the Administration should be advocating addressing both the transport and refining bottlenecks – and actually do something that will benefit the national economy.

Athos on January 31, 2014 at 6:48 PM

In the past week I’ve received eight or nine e-mails from trucking outfits looking for drivers. They are offering $5k+ sign-on bonuses for tanker drivers.

The consumer is paying at the pump for the high cosy of oil/gasoline transportation.

davidk on January 31, 2014 at 6:52 PM

Rather than picking winners / losers and trying to rig the system to make renewable energy economically viable now, the Administration should be advocating addressing both the transport and refining bottlenecks – and actually do something that will benefit the national economy.

Athos on January 31, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Palin 2016, or, Energy Secretary.

davidk on January 31, 2014 at 6:55 PM

obama is always threatening to bypass Congress. Why doesn’t Congress bypass him?

davidk on January 31, 2014 at 7:01 PM

I’m looking forward to how seeing just how quickly the vulnerable Dems in LA and AK get before the cameras and demand “Mr. Obama tear down this wall of bureaucracy”

Put another way, Mary Landrieu hasn’t even settled into her role as Chair of the Senate Energy Committee when she may well have to trade in her new business cards for moving boxes. Not only out of her coveted chairmanship but out of the Senate completely.

Happy Nomad on January 31, 2014 at 7:06 PM

No motive:

The state’s attorney report on the horrific murders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School by shooter Adam Lanza found no “conclusive motive” for his actions but did document unsettling facts about the 20-year-old killer, including computer files he kept on the rights of pedophiles, a movie about man/boy love, instant messages concerning “homosexual fantasies,” numerous mass murder documents, and a computer game entitled “School Shooting.”

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/sandy-hook-killer-had-movie-depicting-manboy-relationship-his-pc

davidk on January 31, 2014 at 7:06 PM

What? Despite all Obama’s best efforts, did he actually appoint a Cabinet secretary who’s somewhere within approach-control radar range of a clue?

I figured the guy was going to be as far out of his depth as the particle-banger* was…

…but he doesn’t have the independent clout of a Hillary, if he wanders off the reservation too far he’ll get clobbered.

* I wonder how Dr Chu fits into Dr Lindzen’s contention that the best minds go into physics and math. Chu may be brilliant in his field, but man was he out of his depth in government…

JEM on January 31, 2014 at 7:06 PM

No motive:

davidk on January 31, 2014 at 7:06 PM

Evil doesn’t usually come with an easy motive. Oftentimes “the mental health system” is blamed for lack of a reasonable motive. And there is some truth to that.

Could it be that the Sandy Hook shooter or any of the others have been so de-sensitized to violence that killing isn’t that big a deal? Put another way, I would suggest that popular culture is creating these killers.

Happy Nomad on January 31, 2014 at 7:12 PM

This administration doesn’t do “sensible” or “infrastructure” where energy is concerned. Their deep-eco friends would go manic if they did, and it doesn’t fit with The One’s fantasy worldview anyway.

Which is why Gorgan the Friendly Angel is Energy Secretary.

And no, he hasn’t got a clue. Expect him to call on EPA to exert tighter control over truck and rail shipment of oil, LNG, etc.

clear ether

eon

eon on January 31, 2014 at 7:15 PM

TIP TOE THROUGH THE TULIPS……

CurtZHP on January 31, 2014 at 7:16 PM

Obamas laser focus is on Jobs infrastructure shovel ready jobs and infrastructure. Therefore the Keystone pipeline will not be good for Buffet

Grunt on January 31, 2014 at 7:19 PM

But…but…but Warren Buffett owns railroads!

GarandFan on January 31, 2014 at 7:22 PM

No motive:

davidk on January 31, 2014 at 7:06 PM

Evil doesn’t usually come with an easy motive. Oftentimes “the mental health system” is blamed for lack of a reasonable motive. And there is some truth to that.

Could it be that the Sandy Hook shooter or any of the others have been so de-sensitized to violence that killing isn’t that big a deal? Put another way, I would suggest that popular culture is creating these killers.

Happy Nomad on January 31, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Some philosophers speak of the “irrationality” of evil. Makes sense in light of John 1:1, “In the beginning was the logos.” The Logic.

Sinning, being contrary to God’s ideal for us, would go against “The Logic” and would, therefore, be illogical, irrational.

And not only is pop culture producing killers such as Lanza but also abortion, h0m0sexuality, rape, child abuse, divorce, and the list goes on.

davidk on January 31, 2014 at 7:37 PM

No motive:

The state’s attorney report on the horrific murders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School by shooter Adam Lanza found no “conclusive motive” for his actions but did document unsettling facts about the 20-year-old killer, including computer files he kept on the rights of pedophiles, a movie about man/boy love, instant messages concerning “homosexual fantasies,” numerous mass murder documents, and a computer game entitled “School Shooting.”

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/sandy-hook-killer-had-movie-depicting-manboy-relationship-his-pc

davidk on January 31, 2014 at 7:06 PM

Sure, and I’m sure they forgot to mention his copy of Mein Kampf, the Turner Diaries and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion…oh, and all the dead puppies buried in his back yard.

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 31, 2014 at 7:41 PM

And not only is pop culture producing killers such as [deleted] but also abortion, h0m0sexuality, rape, child abuse, divorce, and the list goes on.

davidk on January 31, 2014 at 7:37 PM

All part of what I meant by de-sensitized, my friend. I know the world I was raised in. I see the world that young people today are raised in. The results speak for themselves.

Happy Nomad on January 31, 2014 at 7:49 PM

GarandFan on January 31, 2014 at 7:22 PM

Bakken crude has a problem with entrained gases becoming disassociated during transit via rail. This causes a high vapor pressure and why there seems to be a big fire every train derailment. As a result, 75,000 tank cars have been removed from hauling crude oil and are scheduled to be retrofitted at $20,000 to $40,000 each.

BTW, at the end of last year, Buffett closed a deal to purchase a chemical products division from Chevron. It makes additives to reduce turbulence in pipeline hauling crude oil, and increases their capacity.

You think Buffett still wants to block pipelines? No I didn’t think say.

Kermit on January 31, 2014 at 7:50 PM

haven’t read all the comments but reading his quotes makes him look better

something tells me he will clarify his statements or they are giving Kerry the go ahead

wonder what the repubs are giving up…

keep those calls a comin’ folks

DanMan on January 31, 2014 at 7:58 PM

Yer right Kermit, Phillips66 unit I think, I recall reading that a couple of weeks ago

DanMan on January 31, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Sure, and I’m sure they forgot to mention his copy of Mein Kampf, the Turner Diaries and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion…oh, and all the dead puppies buried in his back yard.

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 31, 2014 at 7:41 PM

“Same as dead babies,” thuja.

davidk on January 31, 2014 at 8:04 PM

DanMan on January 31, 2014 at 7:58 PM

It’s a lot more than just Keystone XL. Tight shale oil from Texas is now double Bakken. There is one problem it is VERY light crude mixed with condensate. It’s too light for all of it to go to the major refineries in TX and LA because they are configured for heavy such as from Canada or Venezuela. So a good bit of condensate is removed and shipped via ship from Corpus Christi to LOOP (Louisiana Offshore Oil Port) where it is being shipped up to Canada to be used as a diluent to enable Canadian crude to be pipelined south. The crude now 40 API gravity is in large shipped to East Coast refineries via ship or ocean going tug/barge out of Corpus Christi also.

The only more expensive transport than rail is truck which is cost prohibitive. Rail is only economical with crude prices as high as the are.

We ain’t even talked about the problems with the need for reconfiguration of the natural gas pipeline infrastructure yet.

Kermit on January 31, 2014 at 8:05 PM

National Wildlife Federation: ‘The Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline is a bad deal for America and our wildlife and it’s clearly not in our national interest. It will result in more carbon pollution, more oil spills, and massive destruction of wildlife habitat in the heart of North America’s bird nursery’ – statement via @NBCNews

davidk on January 31, 2014 at 8:05 PM

DanMan on January 31, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Seems like I remember Buffett paying $1.2 billion for it.

Kermit on January 31, 2014 at 8:06 PM

Update: 50 evacuated after chemical train derailment in Mississippi – @NBCNews

davidk on January 31, 2014 at 8:11 PM

But…but…but Warren Buffett owns railroads!

GarandFan on January 31, 2014 at 7:22 PM

…he could have been a Trillion-aire…by now!

KOOLAID2 on January 31, 2014 at 8:25 PM

“Same as dead babies,” thuja.

davidk on January 31, 2014 at 8:04 PM

I only got around to looking at this now. I hadn’t expected such a trainwreck of social con ideas where they don’t fit as I saw on the comments here. It would seem to me that the correct approach on ecological issues like this is to weigh ecological cost against economic benefits and not be talking about every other issue under the sun.

I fear that all these irrelevant comments are because too many people find the subject matter that Erica writes about to be boring. They couldn’t be more wrong. I think I am going to have to contrive some argument with Erica just to make this more exciting. I am not committed to this project yet, but perhaps it would help to get people paying attention to the right issues.

thuja on February 1, 2014 at 12:45 AM

* I wonder how Dr Chu fits into Dr Lindzen’s contention that the best minds go into physics and math. Chu may be brilliant in his field, but man was he out of his depth in government…

JEM on January 31, 2014 at 7:06 PM

Its not so much that the best minds go into physics and math, as it is that those of us who are good at physics and math frequently aren’t so good at much else.
The funny thing is that the people who are best at physics and math generally can’t make it as professors because they lack the people skills to promote their ideas, let alone navigate university politics.

Count to 10 on February 1, 2014 at 9:09 AM