Today in Energy

Mar 4, 2015

U.S. crude oil storage capacity utilization now up to 60%

graph of U.S. crude oil storage capacity, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Weekly Petroleum Status Report and Working and Net Available Crude Oil Storage Capacity
Note: Inventories shown in the graph do not include pipeline fill, lease stocks, or oil in transit from Alaska. PADD is the Petroleum Administration for Defense District.

Crude oil inventory data for the week ending February 20 show that total utilization of crude oil storage capacity in the United States stands at approximately 60%, compared with 48% at the same time last year. Most U.S. crude oil stocks are held in the Midwest and Gulf Coast, where storage tanks were at 69% and 56% of capacity, respectively, as of February 20. This capacity use calculation reflects only crude oil stored in tanks or underground caverns at tank farms and refineries, and excludes some crude oil that is included in commercial inventory data, such as pipeline fill and lease stocks held in production areas.

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Mar 3, 2015

Oil production in federal Gulf of Mexico expected to continue increasing

graph of monthly oil production from the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
Note: Production data have not yet been reported for four of the eight fields (Cardamom Deep, Jack, St. Malo, and Tubular Bells).

Because of the long timelines associated with Gulf of Mexico (GOM) projects, the recent downturn in oil prices is expected to have minimal direct impact on GOM crude oil production through 2016. EIA projects GOM production to reach 1.52 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2015 and 1.61 million bbl/d in 2016, or about 16% and 17% of total U.S. crude oil production in those two years, respectively.

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Mar 2, 2015

Voluntary agreement continues to reduce energy consumption of television set-top boxes

graph of daily energy consumption of a representative set-top box in various modes, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Navigant Consulting, Inc. Analysis and Representation of Miscellaneous Electric Loads in NEMS
Note: Assumes set-top box has automatic power down enabled.

About 85% of U.S. households have at least one set-top box (STB) designed to deliver subscription-based television service by cable, satellite, or other telecommunication signals, according to 2013 data from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the Consumer Electronics Association. In most cases, these STBs operate at almost full power whether they're actively being used or inactive. Energy efficiency advocates, set-top box manufacturers, service providers, and the federal government have voluntarily agreed to improve energy efficiency of set-top boxes, generally based on the ENERGY STAR® program's product specifications.

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Feb 27, 2015

Petroleum refinery outage in California highlights markets’ quick price reaction

map of West Coast petroleum product supply, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, This Week in Petroleum
Note: Click to see the entirety of PADD 5.

On February 18, an explosion and fire occurred at ExxonMobil's refinery in Torrance, California. The Torrance refinery, the third-largest refinery in Southern California, has about 20% of the region's fluid catalytic cracking capacity and is an important source of gasoline and distillate fuel oil supply for Southern California.

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Feb 26, 2015

Rise in salt cavern storage capacity for natural gas offsets declines in other capacities

graph of demonstrated maximum working gas volume, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Natural Gas Underground Storage Report

With natural gas storage at low levels in most of 2014 and production relatively high, minimal new natural gas storage capacity was built, except for salt facilities in the Producing region. Capacity in the East region of the United States fell slightly, resulting in relatively unchanged national total capacity.

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Feb 25, 2015

Wind generation seasonal patterns vary across the United States

graph of monthly median wind plant capacity factors by region, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Forms EIA-860 and EIA-923
Note: Data include facilities with a net summer capacity of 1 MW and above only.

Wind plant generation performance varies throughout the year as a result of highly seasonal wind patterns. Nationally, wind plant performance tends to be highest during the spring and lowest during the mid- to late summer, while performance during the winter (November through February) is around the annual median. However, this pattern can vary considerably across regions, mostly based on local atmospheric and geographic conditions.

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Feb 24, 2015

Large reduction in distillate fuel sulfur content has only minor effect on energy content

graph of daily spot prices of wholesale gasoline, ethanol, and RINS, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Supply Monthly, Monthly Energy Review
Note: Distillate fuel volumes with sulfur content below 15 parts per million produced before 2004 are included in the 'between 15 and 500 ppm' category. Distillate fuel supply for 2014 includes estimated volumes for December 2014 from the Short-Term Energy Outlook, February 2015.

Republished February 24, 2015, 9:30 a.m. to correct an error.

Distillate fuel oil supply consists primarily of diesel fuel used for transportation and of heating oil burned in furnaces and boilers. Over the past 20 years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has regulated the amount of sulfur contained in diesel fuel to enable reductions in harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter from diesel engines. Since 2006, most distillate fuel has had less than 15 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur, a drastic change from the early 1990s, when high-sulfur diesel had an average sulfur content of 3,000 ppm. This change has improved air quality by reducing sulfur emissions with only a minor effect on the average energy content of distillate fuel consumed in the United States.

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Feb 23, 2015

Higher RIN prices support continued ethanol blending despite lower gasoline prices

graph of daily spot prices of wholesale gasoline, ethanol, and RINS, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Oil Price Information Service, Thomson-Reuters
Note: RBOB is reformulated blendstock for oxygenate blending.

With the exception of two short periods in late 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, when winter-related logistical bottlenecks drove up ethanol prices, spot ethanol prices have consistently been lower than gasoline prices from December 2011 through October 2014. However, with the sharp decline in crude oil and gasoline prices in the latter months of 2014, gasoline spot prices fell below ethanol spot prices in early November. For most of December through mid-January, ethanol was priced about 30 cents per gallon more than wholesale gasoline; since that time, the gap between the spot prices of ethanol and gasoline has narrowed.

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Feb 20, 2015

Natural gas inventory exceeds five-year average for first time since November 2013

graph of daily spot prices of wholesale gasoline, ethanol, and RINS, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report, Short-Term Energy Outlook

Working natural gas in storage has surpassed five-year average levels for the first time in more than a year. At 2,157 billion cubic feet (Bcf) as of February 13, stocks are 58 Bcf greater than the five-year average. Recent extremely cold weather may result in high stock withdrawals for the week ending February 20, which could again push stocks below their five-year average. However, natural gas production in February and March that is forecast to average 5 Bcf/day above the year-ago level is likely to contribute to healthy inventories and moderate prices as the nation moves from winter into spring.

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Feb 19, 2015

Wind generates more than 10% of Texas electricity in 2014

graph of Texas (ERCOT) annual electricity generation mix, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)

In 2014, more than 10% of the electricity used in the grid covering most of Texas came from wind generation, according to the grid's operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Wind's share of the ERCOT generation mix grew from 6.2% in 2009 to 10.6% in 2014 as total electricity generation increased over the same period by 11.3%. The growth in wind generation is a result of new wind plants coming online and grid expansions that have allowed more wind power to flow through the system to consumers.

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