Last updateThu, 22 Mar 2018 4pm


BSEE Increases Safety Inspection Time Offshore

Beginning April 1, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is increasing physical inspection time offshore. Exploring ways to make inspections more efficient and reduce helicopter operating expenses, a team of BSEE leaders in the Gulf of Mexico Region developed the new approach.

Taking advantage of technology allowing for access to electronic records onshore, BSEE’s inspectors will now have significantly more time to inspect operations offshore, ensuring safety at more than 2,200 facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Electricity Generation from Fossil Fuels Declined in 2017

According to U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Electric Power Monthly, total U.S. net electricity generation fell slightly (down 1.5%) in 2017, reflecting lower electricity demand. Natural gas and coal generation fell by 7.7% and 2.5% from 2016, respectively, as generation from several renewable fuels, particularly hydro, wind, and solar, increased from 2016 levels.

Although natural gas continued to be most-used fuel for electricity generation for the third consecutive year, natural gas-fired electricity generation fell by 105 billion kilowatthours in 2017, the largest annual decline on record. Coal-fired electricity generation also fell, but to a lesser extent, marking the first year since 2008 that both natural gas- and coal-fired electricity generation fell in the same year. 

U.S. Petroleum Demand Near Highest Level in 11 Years

Led by gasoline and seasonal demand for heating fuels, U.S. petroleum demand hit 20.3 million barrels per day in February. According to the American Petroleum Institute, demand was up by more than a million barrels per day from February of last year, nearing record highs not seen for more than a decade.

In addition, the U.S. rig count climbed to 984 rigs as of March 9 and has averaged 959 rigs through Q1 2018 to date; this represents an increase of 4.0% above the average for Q4 2017 and should position U.S. production for continued growth. 

Exxon Confirms Gulf Coast Refining Expansion

“A top Exxon Mobil Corp official confirmed a multi-billion dollar plan under consideration to double U.S. light crude oil refining capacity along the U.S. Gulf Coast to take advantage of the nation's growing shale oil production,” Reuters  reports.

“Exxon's proposed project, which has not received a final investment decision, would be the first major expansion of gasoline and motor fuels production in the nation in six years.” The company “plans to invest $9 billion in six refinery projects globally in the next eight years and forecasts returns from its downstream to grow by 20% on average.” 

Could the U.S. Get Carbon Capture Back on Track?

The 2018 U.S. Budget Bill, passed by the House and Senate in mid-February, will shape funding for energy technologies for the next decade. Alongside the extension of renewable tax credits and credits for energy efficiency, nuclear and fuel cells, the bill contains a provision that could provide the first significant stimulus to the global fortunes of carbon capture for several years.

According to IEA energy technology analysts Simon Bennett and Tristan Stanley, the bill aims to stimulate investment in carbon capture by expanding incentives to companies that can use captured CO2 and reduce emissions as a result. It raises the existing so-called “45Q” tax credit for storing CO2 permanently underground from USD 22 today to USD 50 in 2026. 



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