Today in Energy

Jan 27, 2015

Hawaii’s electric system is changing with rooftop solar growth and new utility ownership

graph of residential and commercial net-metered solar PV capacity in Hawaii; average residential solar system size, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, EIA-861 and EIA-826
Note: Average residential solar photovoltaic (PV) system size calculated by dividing total installed capacity by number of meters. HECO, MECO, and HELCO are subsidiaries of Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc.; KIUC is an independent electric cooperative.

In December, NextEra Energy Inc. announced an agreement to acquire Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., owner of three electric utilities that together supply power to 95% of Hawaii's population. NextEra is one of the largest developers of renewable energy in the United States through its subsidiary NextEra Energy Resources and is also the owner of Florida Power & Light (FPL). While FPL does not rely heavily on solar photovoltaics (PV) and other forms of renewable energy to serve its Florida customers, solar PV already plays a large role in Hawaii, and that role is expected to grow significantly over time. The Hawaiian Electric utilities' solar PV programs continue to evolve as the utilities handle ever-larger amounts of customer-sited solar capacity on their small and isolated island grids.

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Jan 26, 2015

Lower 48 oil production outlook stable despite expected near-term reduction in rig count

graph of monthly oil production and rig count in the lower 48 states, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, January Short-Term Energy Outlook
Note: Graph does not include production from Alaska and the Federal Gulf of Mexico.

The sharp decline in oil prices over the last quarter of 2014, which has continued in January, is already having a significant effect on drilling activity in the United States, as shown by the 16% decline in the number of active onshore drilling rigs in the Lower 48 states between the weeks ending on October 31, 2014 and January 23, 2015, according to data from Baker-Hughes.

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Jan 23, 2015

Currency depreciation against the dollar affects oil importers and exporters differently

graph of daily Brent futures price, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Bloomberg

Widely traded futures contracts for North Sea Brent crude oil in global financial markets are typically priced in U.S. dollars (USD). The appreciation, or increase in value, of USD against most other currencies since last summer can either mitigate or exacerbate the effects of the recent sharp decline in USD-denominated crude oil prices, depending on whether a particular country is a net importer or a net exporter of crude oil.

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Jan 22, 2015

Northern Maine considers options to gain direct access to New England electric grid

map of generating capacity in northern Maine, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-860; Maine Office of GIS

Republished January 22, 2015, 2:45 p.m. to correct an error in the text.

Northern Maine is a unique power market: unlike any other part of the Lower 48 states, this region is connected to one of the three main power grids serving the United States and Canada only via transmission lines that run through Canada. Currently, grid operators are considering transmission options to give northern Maine direct links to the rest of New England in an effort to enhance reliability and expand access to electricity markets.

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Jan 21, 2015

EIA updates Eagle Ford maps to provide greater geologic detail

map of Eagle Ford Play, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, DrillingInfo, Inc., Texas Natural Resources Information, U.S. Geological Survey, University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology

Recent updates to the Energy Information Administration's maps and geologic information for the Eagle Ford tight oil and shale gas play in Texas help to characterize the formation's structure, thickness, and surface area, as well as the gas-to-oil ratio of its producing wells from January 2000 to June 2014. This information provides a better understanding of recent production within the context of key geologic parameters. The updates can be seen in the following four tabs. The first tab provides additional information on the mix of oil and natural gas hydrocarbons produced by well location. Tabs 2 through 4 provide updated geological information.

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Jan 20, 2015

NERC assessment examines winter power system reliability, fuel diversity

electricity generating capacity and reserve margins in select regions, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on NERC 2014-15 Winter Reliability Assessment

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation's (NERC) recently released 2014-15 Winter Reliability Assessment finds that all assessment areas have enough capacity resources to meet normal winter peak electricity demand. However, NERC highlights lower levels of reserves (spare capacity) in specific regions under an extreme winter scenario where the combination of demand increases and supply outages may stress electricity grids. NERC also discusses concerns about fuel diversity, specifically highlighting high dependence on natural gas-fired generation in certain regions.

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Jan 16, 2015

Regional differences in China’s vehicle adoption reflect differences in income

Maps of vehicle density and disposable income in China, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on the 2013 China Statistical Yearbook
Note: Vehicle density covers private vehicles, including passenger vehicles, trucks, and other.

Oil demand and imports in China have increased significantly as private passenger vehicle sales and use have increased. Sales of private passenger vehicles have grown by 29% annually over the past 13 years, which has increased gasoline consumption in China. China is currently the world's second-largest oil consumer, behind the United States. Increased sales have mainly been focused in China's wealthier, eastern provinces, where some provinces have now instituted policies to limit vehicle ownership. In other parts of the nation, the central government has encouraged policies to increase incomes, which will likely lead to increased vehicle use and energy consumption.

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Jan 15, 2015

Regional refinery trends evolve to accommodate increased domestic crude oil production

Map of U.S. regional refining capacity, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
Note: As of January 1, 2014, there were 133 operating refineries with atmospheric crude oil distillation units (ACDU) totaling capacity of 18.9 million barrels per stream day. Heavy capacity denotes refineries with coking capacity; light capacity denotes refineries without coking capacity.
Note: Click to enlarge.

Recent rapid growth in U.S. production of light tight oil has raised interest in understanding how U.S. refineries, many of which are configured to process heavier crude oil, might accommodate increased volumes of domestic light crude. The U.S. refinery fleet, which is distributed across Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts (PADDs), varies both within and across regions in capacity, quality of crude oil inputs, utilization rates, and sources of crude supply.

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Jan 14, 2015

Market expectations of oil price uncertainty have increased in recent months

graph of West Texas Intermediate crude oil price, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, January 2015
Note: Confidence interval derived from options market information for the five trading days ending Jan. 8, 2015. Intervals not calculated for months with sparse trading in near-the-money options contracts.

December was the sixth consecutive month in which monthly average Brent crude oil prices decreased, falling $17/barrel (bbl) from November to a monthly average of $62/bbl, the lowest since May 2009. The December price decline, and its continuation into early January, reflects continued growth in U.S. tight oil production, strong global supply, and weakening outlooks for the global economy and oil demand growth.

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Jan 13, 2015

Because of cold start, average natural gas spot prices were higher in 2014

graph of daily natural gas spot prices key trading locations, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI)

Driven by higher prices during the first three months of 2014, average wholesale (spot) prices for natural gas increased by 20% or more at most trading locations in the United States in 2014 compared to 2013. The average price of natural gas at Henry Hub in Erath, Louisiana, the primary benchmark location for natural gas pricing in the United States, rose 17% to $4.37 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) from the 2013 average price of $3.73/MMBtu. In calculating the annual average, those early high prices overwhelmed current prices that are in the $3/MMBtu range.

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