pump jack

A pump jack operates in Williams County.

Crude oil prices inched downward Wednesday after the Energy Information Administration said the U.S. added 4.3 million barrels to its inventories (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) for the week through Oct. 22.

While that is 6 percent below the five-year average for this time of year, the previous week EIA had reported a modest draw of 400,000 barrels, with expectations of adding just 1.65 million barrels to inventories.

WTI was down $1.60 in early morning trading Wednesday, Oct. 27 to $83.05 and Brent crude was down $1.68 in early morning trades to $84.72 on reports of increased supply.

Crude oil refinery output, meanwhile, averaged 15 million barrels per day for the week ending Oct. 22, which was 58,000 barrels per day more on average than EIA reported the previous week. Refineries were operating at 85 percent of capacity.

Gasoline production also increased for the week, averaging 10.1 million barrels per day, and distillate fuel production increased, averaging 4.6 million barrels per day.

Oil prices have been driven by continued demand into a tight global supply. While OPEC+ is sitting on 5 million barrels of reserves and could release additional supply to ease the situation, the cartel has been cool to the idea so far. Their current plan is to continue increasing production releases by 400,000 barrels of oil per day each month.

Several analysts, including Goldman Sachs, have been predicting oil prices will reach $90 per barrel or more by the end of the year.

Clean Power Week to highlight North Dakota solar, wind

Solar and wind power generate $22.5 million in tax revenue in North Dakota, a point that will be highlighted for the first annual American Clean Power Week.

The American Clean Power Association ranks North Dakota 11th in operational wind and solar power and energy storage capacity. North Dakota wind and solar generates 31 percent of the state’s electricity, which can power the equivalent of 1.1 million homes across the state.

To learn more about wind and solar in North Dakota, follow Powering North Dakota on Facebook or Twitter throughout the week. The associated hashtags are #AmericanCleanPowerWeek or #PoweringAmericanJobs.

Powering North Dakota is a statewide coalition of business and community leaders that support expanding wind and solar energy. They are affiliated with the American Clean Power Association.

North Dakota has clean diesel grants

The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality has $337,000 in funds from the U.S. EPA for grants to help schools, cities, counties and other government agencies purchase new or newer diesel-powered, zero-emission, hybrid, or alternatively fueled vehicles.

The purpose of the funding is to help reduce diesel emissions in accordance with the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of the Energy Policy Act of 2010.

So far, North Dakota has replaced 102 older vehicles using this funding source, with a reduction in air emissions of about 200 tons over the lifetimes of those vehicles.

For an application and program guidelines, visit https://deq.nd.gov/AQ/News.aspx.

The applications are due by 5 p.m. Nov. 30. They can be emailed to airquality@nd.gov or mailed to the Division of Air Quality, 4201 Normandy Street, Bismarck, ND 58503-1324.

EIA predicting higher heating bills

The Energy Information Agency is out with its Winter Fuels Outlook, which says heating bills are likely to be 30 percent for natural gas consumers this winter year over year.

Almost half of U.S. homes rely on natural gas for heat. They will spend $746 on average this winter, according to the EIA report. That’s $172 more than last year.

That figure is dependent, of course, on how cold it is this winter. If temperatures are 10 percent colder this year than last, costs could rise 50 percent higher than last year.

Propane users face an even steeper rise, according to the report. They could be spending 54 percent more this year than last, if temperatures remain the same as last year. For a colder winter, that figure jumps to 94 percent.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-North Dakota, on a GOP Energy panel held on Tuesday blamed Democrats and said their policies are causing an energy crisis.

“North Dakota is an energy powerhouse. We have got notice from two of our utilities that people are going to pay upwards of 150 to 200 dollars more for their energy costs this winter. When you say you are not taxing anybody who makes under 400,000 dollars per year, people who are paying 200 dollars more to heat their home in North Dakota in the winter will disagree with you.”

EPA plans to release methane restrictions Thursday

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to release its proposal for curbing methane emissions Thursday, according to a Politico report.

Those regulations are separate from the methane fee that has been proposed in the Democrats reconciliation bill for Biden’s climate agenda.

The fate of the methane fee is still being debated. Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate whose vote will be critical to passing the reconciliation bill, has said he does not favor the methane fee and pointed to the EPA’s methane regulations as a better vehicle for reducing methane emissions.

Likewise, many in the oil and gas industry have also pointed to the regulations as the best way to reduce methane emissions than the tax, which would apply a complex formula that includes methane intensity for a given basin.

“This is nothing more than a tax on natural gas at a time when policymakers should be focused on solutions that support affordable, reliable energy while reducing emissions,” Frank Macchiarola, American Petroleum Institute senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs, said in a statement of Congress’ methane fee. “The direct regulation of methane by the EPA is the most impactful way to build on the downward trend of methane emission rates in key producing regions rather than a duplicative and punitive natural gas tax that would only hurt American consumers and undermine the economic recovery.”

Meetings & more

Williston Petroleum Conference sponsorships are still available, through Nov. 5, for the event that is set for 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Williston State College Well. Find out more online at WillistonAPI.com/Banquet.

McKenzie County MSW Landfill comment period open for permit modification/renewal through Nov. 11. Online at https://deq.nd.gov/wm/PublicNotices/default.aspx.

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