In July, the United States Environmental Protection Agency underwent some turmoil when administrator Scott Pruitt was forced to resign. His deputy, Andrew Wheeler, quickly ascended to the top job at the EPA. From day one, Wheeler has steered his “new EPA” in a bold, new direction.Continue reading
Last week, the price of oil nudged above $70 per barrel for three days. In years past, that kind of price increase would have economists break out in hives, and US consumers steer clear of stores. Almost miraculously, however, that hasn’t happened.
Exxon on Thursday announced that they would join the growing number of international oil and gas companies to take steps to research and combat the long-term effects of climate change. The move comes just one day after Shell announced a similar initiative to regulate its methane emissions over the next few years.
Yet, for all these undeniably positive strides, oil and gas companies are still decried as the bad guy, even as they take steps to find common ground with anti-energy activists.
Exxon’s ‘Political’ Move
Four years after they were eviscerated in the media for wanting to determine their own path forward, Exxon’s decision to reverse course and join the industry-supported Oil and Gas Climate Initiative is being similarly attacked. This time, critics are accusing Exxon of making the move to earn goodwill among the people.
Few people (willingly) remember that Exxon’s refusal to join the OCGI four years ago wasn’t a refusal to address climate change, it was an attempt to independently assess the most effective strategies for combatting global warming. In other words, Exxon’s decision to join Chevron, BP, Shell, and several others seems less like a politically-motivated about-face and more like the natural result of four years of research and thought.
Shell Doubles Down on Planet Earth
As Exxon takes steps to bolster the OCGI, another member company, Royal Dutch Shell, announced their plan to drastically reduce its methane emissions over the next 7 years. The oil and gas company is shooting to maintain methane emissions below .02 percent of their total assets by the year 2025.
The announcement is the first step in Shell’s mission to cut their carbon emissions in half in the coming decades.
Are We Incapable of Celebrating Positive Change?
When it comes right down to it, there may be nothing oil and gas companies can do to convince people that they’re not working to destroy the planet. That’s too bad. Regardless of the impression you might be given by the media, the oil and gas industry is swiftly becoming the most passionate ally in the quest to curtail climate change.
Exxon’s $100 million annual commitment to the OCGI, for example, brings the fund’s total up to a staggering $1.3 billion. That’s a monetary total that makes a far more convincing statement than those critics complaining about the politics behind the transition.
In late August, President Donald J. Trump announced a “big trade agreement” with our neighbors to the south, Mexico. A major portion of the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement would address issues with the North American Free Trade Agreement, such as the “sunset clause.”
During the reign of the Soviet Union, the Caspian Sea was considered a natural border, evenly divided by Russia and Iran. In the years following the fall of the Soviet Union, however, the Caspian found itself straddled by five new countries. For decades, Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan have vigorously disputed ownership of the land-locked sea. On Sunday, however, the nations took their first step toward a peaceful distribution of the Caspian’s vast natural resources signing the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea.
The landmark agreement boils down to a mathematical formula that will divide the seabed of the Caspian between the five nations while retaining the surface of the sea as international water.
The Caspian’s Impact on Oil and Gas
First and foremost, the Caspian Sea deal creates a new avenue for the flow of oil and gas back and forth between Europe and Asia. Several Caspian nations have begun work on pipelines that will swiftly carry extracted oil and natural gas east and west. This development has the potential to expose a lot more customers to Russia and the Central Asian energy market.
The Caspian Sea deal is also significant because it brings with it the possibility of massive oil reserves finally seeing the light of day. Estimates put the Caspian Sea’s resources around “48 billion barrels of oil and 8.7 trillion cubic meters of gas in proven or probable reserves.”
Those vast reserves paired with the multiple pipelines under construction could turn the Caspian Sea into an oil and gas powerhouse.
It’ll Still Take Time to Get Things Fully Sorted Out
If all of that sounds like enough to make US oil and gas producers nervous, it shouldn’t (yet). Consider that the basic idea for the Caspian Sea deal took twenty years to get this far. There’s still plenty of bickering to come as all five nations work out the results of the formula. From there, it will take years to establish a working infrastructure in the region. That’s to say nothing of the expert finagling that will be required to sort out a long-term deal.
In five years time, the Caspian Sea may well have transformed into a noteworthy destination on the oil and gas landscape. For the moment, though, there’s still plenty of ground to cover.