Oil Rig Production Continues Plunge

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Oil rig production continues its plunge and gas prices are starting to show that. Here is the latest data on oil rigs:

The number of active U.S. land rigs plunged by 98 this week in one of the biggest declines in the past three decades as fallen oil prices continued to pummel the industry’s drilling ambitions.

Baker Hughes’ 71-year-old U.S. rig count, one of the industry’s go-to indicators of future oil production and demand for rigs, was down by 406 drilling units compared to Feb. 13, 2014. The last time the rig count fell by 98 was in January, 2009 – the two declines are tied for the biggest drops since 1987.

H/T Fuel Fix

Middle East Controls American Oil Refinery Business

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While many media pundits are on tv celebrating the U.S. leap in oil production there is another side not talked about, Middle East countries Saudi Arabia and Qatar own most of the oil refinery business in the United States. Here is more from a 2013 Washington Times article:

Today, the largest oil refinery in the United States, Motiva in Texas, is owned by Saudi Aramco (a state-owned company) and Royal Dutch Shell (a British and Dutch company). The refinery recently completed a major expansion project, originally driven by growing American demand for Saudi oil in 2007.

Since the expansion began, however, U.S. demand for oil has fallen and production of North American oil has risen. Saudi Aramco has, therefore, repositioned Motiva to accept this change in the market. In addition to importing Saudi oil, the Motiva expansion allows Saudi Aramco to refine and export petroleum products to Latin American markets. Most important, though, the expansion enables Saudi Aramco to refine the heavy crude oils now being extracted from Canadian and American oil sands and shale fields.

Saudi Arabia is also being joined by Qatar in not only the U.S. but also in Canada:

Qatar is also positioned to extract significant profits from the American energy industry. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Qatar holds the third-largest natural-gas reserve in the world and has been the world leader in liquefied natural-gas technology and exportation since 1997. Yet Qatar Petroleum International (also a state-owned company) owns a 70 percent stake in the Golden Pass re-gasification terminal in Texas. The terminal was previously intended to import Qatar’s natural gas into the United States, but with the boom in North American natural gas, Qatar is now seeking to repurpose the facility to export liquefied natural gas and profit from North American resources. Qatar Petroleum International’s CEO, Nasser al-Jaidah, recently stated that the company is seeking to invest in North American shale, a highly touted source of America’s potential energy independence, and on April 15, the company acquired a stake in Suncor Energy’s natural-gas holdings in Canada.

Wind and Solar Carry Higher Megawatt Prices

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Economic Policies for the 21st Century recently published a lengthy article titled America Should Avoid Germany’s Failed Energy Policy. Found an interesting price comparison of renewable energy vs standard forms.

These problems with green energy help to explain why only 4 percent of U.S. energy comes from wind and solar. Data from the Energy Information Agency show that, for plants entering service in 2019, levelized wind power costs will be between $64 and $175 per megawatt. Solar power will cost between $155 and $195 per megawatt. For comparison, conventional natural gas fired plants produce energy at a levelized cost of $14 per megawatt. Nuclear comes in at $71 per megawatt, comparable with efficient wind farms. The costs to consumers from renewable energy mandates are even higher when tax incentives are included.

Saudi Arabia: Nuclear/Solar Power Expansion

Saudi Arabia has recently announced a very aggressive plan to start introducing nuclear power plants and big solar farms into their power supply grid to replace hyrdrocarbons. I find it insane the U.S. does not pursue nuclear energy in all forms. It would stabilize the entire country and be a source of power for decades to come. Here is the entire article but will pass along the highlights.

The Saudi Royal Family hopes that nuclear will provide 15% of the Kingdom’s power (18 GWe) within 20 years, together with a similar 15% (40 GWe) from solar. They are planning to invest $80 billion to build over a dozen nuclear power plants as fast as possible, intending for the first reactor to come online in only eight years. Investment in solar for the same energy production will take about $240 billion in investment, although breakthrough technologies in the next decade should cut that cost in half.

Total electricity consumption in Saudi Arabia exceeds 200 billion kWhs per year and is expected to double by 2030

Two largest uses of power in the Middle East are for desalinating seawater and residential cooling. Saudi Arabia desalinates over 250 billion gallons of seawater each year, and that number will double in the next ten years as the population and industrialization increase.

Saudi Arabia burns almost a billion barrels of oil a year to produce electricity

Saudi’s neighbor, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates started towards the solar/nuclear combination as well. Here is an interesting note to show how much solar it takes to equal nuclear power

Recently the UAE opened what was, at the time, the largest solar plant in the world, the 100 MW Shams 1 at a cost of about $600 million. But two hundred Shams 1 arrays will be needed to equal the output of the four Barakah nuclear reactors.