Among all the factors pushing up prices at the gas pump, the weakness of the U.S. dollar is one of the most important and least discussed. Ultimately, supply and demand set the price of oil, gasoline and all other sources of energy. But the fact that oil is priced globally in dollars also has consequences for American consumers.
When the dollar buys less, Americans pay more for oil. And right now the dollar is weak, its buying power diluted by easy money and huge budget deficits.
Obama’s State Department is giving away seven strategic, resource-laden Alaskan islands to the Russians. Yes, to the Putin regime in the Kremlin. … The seven endangered islands in the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea include one the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. The Russians are also to get the tens of thousands of square miles of oil-rich seabeds surrounding the islands. The Department of Interior estimates billions of barrels of oil are at stake. The State Department has undertaken the giveaway in the guise of a maritime boundary agreement between Alaska and Siberia. Astoundingly, our federal government itself drew the line to put these seven Alaskan islands on the Russian side.
TransCanada Corp. (TRP) may shorten the initial path for its rejected Keystone XL project, bringing oil from Montana’s Bakken Shale to refiners in the Gulf of Mexico and removing the need for federal approval.
“There certainly is a potential opportunity to connect the Bakken to the Gulf Coast,” Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president of energy and oil pipelines, said in a telephone interview today. “That is obviously something we’ll be looking into over the next few weeks.”
TransCanada’s $7 billion Keystone XL proposal to bring crude from Canada’s oil sands to the Gulf was rejected yesterday by the Obama administration. The project required U.S. approval because it crossed the border with Canada. The company may seek that approval after it builds the segment from Montana to the Gulf, Pourbaix said.
The Bakken shale-rock formation is estimated to hold as much as 4.3 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil in North Dakota and Montana, according to a 2008 U.S. Geological Survey report. Oil production in North Dakota surged 42 percent to 510,000 barrels a day in November, exceeding the output of Ecuador.
Production in the Bakken field may reach 750,000 barrels a day this year, Edward Morse, managing director of commodities research for Citigroup Inc., said at a conference in Calgary today.
President Barack Obama’s decision yesterday to reject a permit for TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline may prompt Canada to turn to China for oil exports.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a telephone call yesterday, told Obama “Canada will continue to work to diversify its energy exports,” according to details provided by Harper’s office. Canadian Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver said relying less on the U.S. would help strengthen the country’s “financial security.”
The “decision by the Obama administration underlines the importance of diversifying and expanding our markets, including the growing Asian market,” Oliver told reporters in Ottawa.
Currently, 99 percent of Canada’s crude exports go to the U.S., a figure that Harper wants to reduce in his bid to make Canada a “superpower” in global energy markets.
Canada accounts for more than 90 percent of all proven reserves outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, according to data compiled in the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Most of Canada’s crude is produced from oil-sands deposits in the landlocked province of Alberta, where output is expected to double over the next eight years, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently that the U.S. jobless rate remains a dreadful 9%. But look more closely at the data and you can see which industries are bucking the jobless trend. One is oil and gas production, which now employs some 440,000 workers, an 80% increase, or 200,000 more jobs, since 2003. Oil and gas jobs account for more than one in five of all net new private jobs in that period.
The ironies here are richer than the shale deposits in North Dakota’s Bakken formation. While Washington has tried to force-feed renewable energy with tens of billions in special subsidies, oil and gas production has boomed thanks to private investment. And while renewable technology breakthroughs never seem to arrive, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have revolutionized oil and gas extraction—with no Energy Department loan guarantees needed.
The oil and gas rush has led to a jobs boom. North Dakota has the nation’s lowest jobless rate, at 3.5%, and the state now has some 200 rigs pumping 440,000 barrels of oil a day, four times the amount in 2006. The state reports more than 16,000 current job openings, and places like Williston have become meccas for workers seeking jobs that often pay more than $100,000 a year.
Or take production in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale formation, which the state Department of Labor and Industry says created 18,000 new jobs in the first half of 2011. Some 214,000 jobs are now tied to a natural gas industry that barely existed in the Keystone State a decade ago. Energy firms are also rushing to develop the Utica shale in eastern Ohio, and they are expanding operations in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, among other places.