Energy Picture Changing in the United States

As we watch current developments of LENR, and wait for its emergence in the commercial realm, it’s important to realize that there are other developments afoot in the energy world, which may have an influence on the prospects of LENR. I have come across some news stories lately that I think are quite interesting, and may have an impact on how LENR is received.

1. U.S. oil output to overtake Saudi Arabia’s by 2020, IEA Says (Washington Post)

Around 2017, the U.S. will be the largest oil producer of the world, overtaking Saudi Arabia,” IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol said at a press conference in London today. “This is of course a major development and definitely will have significant implications.

2. An American Oil Find that Holds More Oil than all of OPEC (ABC News)

A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that if half of the oil bound up in the rock of the Green River Formation could be recovered it would be “equal to the entire world’s proven oil reserves.”

Both the GAO and private industry estimate the amount of oil recoverable to be 3 trillion barrels.

“In the past 100 years — in all of human history — we have consumed 1 trillion barrels of oil. There are several times that much here,” said Roger Day, vice president for operations for American Shale Oil (AMSO).

3. GE, Pickens’ Clean Energy in natural-gas supply deal for trucks (Reuters)

General Electric Co (GE.N) reached a deal to sell equipment to Clean Energy Fuels Corp (CLNE.O), which is building out a series of liquefied natural gas fueling stations for U.S. truckers . . .

Clean Energy, which counts T. Boone Pickens as its largest investor, agreed to buy two GE-made MicroLNG plants to provide liquefied natural gas for a network of 70 natural gas fueling stations it is opening at truck stops along U.S. interstate highways this year, the company said in a statement released on Tuesday.

4. A Market in Emissions Is Set to Open in California (New York Times)

California’s fledging market-based system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions makes its formal debut on Wednesday with its auction of state-issued pollution allowances.

All these reports are dealing with the energy situation in the United States, and stories 1-3 are connected with the resurgence of the U.S. as an energy producer. It will be interesting to see what the effect of the emergence of E-Cat power might have on this oil and gas boom. Would commercial and political forces welcome a new form of energy if the oil and natural gas industries are doing well?

It should be noted that U.S. oil production from shale remains profitable only when oil prices remain relatively high (e.g. in Utah/Colorado), since a great deal of heat is required to liquify the oil trapped within the shale rock. Shale production break even price is estimated to be around $65 per barrel. It is around $40-45 per barrel in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota and Montana, where oil is extracted by hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

There are also environmental regulations to consider — and story no. 4 shows that California at least is trying a new way to reduce the amount of carbon produced. Whether the Federal government will try again to implement a nationwide cap and trade program remains to be seen. The recent Obama victory may embolden environmentalists to make another push in this direction, although cap and trade legislation failed in Obama’s first term.

Government mandated reductions of carbon emmissions should help the cause of LENR, also if there is more regulation of fracking, something which is being pushed by many environmentalists in the U.S. However it turns out, the prospects for LENR commercialization are going to be influenced by the wider energy picture — and that picture appears to be a changing one.