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High Oil Prices, No End In Sight Says Local Industry Leaders

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By: Michael Dekker – Tulsa World – With oil and gasoline prices setting new records on a daily basis for weeks, there is no foreseeable end, and possibly much worse pain to come at the pump — and at grocery and other stores, local industry leaders said.

“I don’t think it’s going to get much better, that’s for sure,” said Dewey Bartlett Jr., president of Keener Oil and Gas Co., and a board member and former director of the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance.

The national average price of regular unleaded surpassed $5 per gallon for the first time on Thursday, according to gasbuddy.com, a fuel price-tracking service.

A multitude of factors, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a relatively stable but limited oil supply, limited refining capacity and high demand have all led to prices well beyond the highest set in 2008, analysts said.

“It is not just an American challenge, it’s a global challenge,” said Heather Boushey, an economist and member of President Joe Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, during a conference call Monday with journalists from Southern and Southwestern states.

Of the global market, she said, “as long as we are dependent on it, we will always be at the whim of autocrats that want to wage war in other countries without apologies.

“That is why from day one the president has been focused on energy independence,” she told the Tulsa World after being asked about high gas prices.

“That means doing what we can to manufacture clean energy in this country because that is really the way that we are both going to get prices down in the long-term and not be subject to the whims of this global marketplace.”

Local industry leaders and Republicans strongly disagree.

They blame the Biden administration’s energy policies and say fossil fuels remain the primary and only current, viable source for global energy needs.

What both sides do seem to agree on is a limited amount of oil that currently can be produced.

Tom Atkinson, founder and owner of Okie Crude Co., a Tulsa-based oil and gas producing company, said there is only a “margin” of about 2 million barrels of oil per day, globally.

“That is extremely thin,” he said. “We don’t have very much elasticity in supply.”

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That lack of ability to increase supply, combined with high demand, has caused prices to skyrocket, he said.

Atkinson said that after a 2009 oil slump, many oil rigs and equipment were “cannibalized,” and that it would take 18 to 24 months to get many of them back up and running.

His company operates about 100 wells in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Montana, he said.

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said a reduction in refining capacity is another reason prices have skyrocketed.

“You can have as much oil as you want, but there is only a finite amount of refining capacity,” he told the Tulsa World by phone.

During Monday’s conference call, Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and another member of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, also addressed the Tulsa World about gas prices.

“We … have tried to talk to international producers as well as domestic producers to get them to increase the supply, and respond to price signals that are instructing them very much to do so,” Bernstein said.

Both Bartlett and Atkinson said neither they nor their organizations, have been approached by anyone in the Biden administration.

Asked if he would welcome such an outreach, Bartlett, a former Tulsa mayor said, “Absolutely.”

“To me, it stuns me that they have not reached out to the industry,” Bartlett said, “To ask the question of what needs to be done in order to increase domestic and oil and natural gas production. That has not happened.”

We can’t get the rig count back to where we were because a lot of people have left the industry,” he said. “You can’t just turn on a switch.”

“Both the major and minor players in the industry … they know the problems and they can point out what they are,” Bartlett said.

Last month, the U.S. House — divided almost entirely on party lines — approved legislation to crack down on alleged price gouging by oil companies and other energy producers.

The bill backed by House Democrats would give Biden authority to declare an energy emergency that would make it unlawful to increase gasoline and home energy fuel prices in an “excessive” or exploitative manner. The bill directs the Federal Trade Commission to punish companies that engage in price gouging and adds a new unit at the FTC to monitor fuel markets.

ExxonMobil, Chevron and other major oil companies announced surging profits totaling more than $40 billion in the first quarter of the year, a fact Democrats repeatedly cited in floor debate. Many of the companies are spending billions on stock buybacks and dividend payments to investors.

“In my opinion it’s … a cheap-shot argument,” Bartlett said.

“Our system is built upon paying the market price. When the administration is all hell-bent on keeping prices up … then they say ‘Let’s make the process high so we can force a change into electric cars,’ or whatever it might be. Divert attention,” he said.

“They say, ‘They (oil and gas companies) don’t care about the rest of the country.’ That’s not true,” Bartlett said.

“Oil and gas companies do not control prices. The prices are controlled by markets. They want to blame us and it’s not fair,” he said.

“Nobody was saying anything when prices hit rock bottom a couple of years ago and the industry was really suffering. Nobody was saying anything to me when I was having to lay people off.”

Bartlett pointed out that the current sky-high prices also have affected the industry itself because diesel is used for engines in oil wells, as well as in semi-tractor trailers to transport oil and gas.

“I don’t gloat over these high energy prices. I know it hurts people and the people who work for me,” Atkinson said.

Bartlett also said that because of a perception that the Biden administration wants to “kill oil and gas,” many industry leaders are unwilling to take financial risks to increase production.

“We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s a lot of money for us. Do we want to spend that money on drilling when the president of the United States has said he wants to get rid of the industry? That makes it tough,” Bartlett said.

Boushey during last week’s conference call, also said Biden has “encouraged firms that have leases to use them, to drill on them.”

But Bartlett said: “You may have the lease, but there are a bunch of hoops you have to jump through. You have a bunch of red tape in order to get permits in order to drill.”

As high as the price of oil has been heading — benchmark U.S. crude oil for July delivery eclipsed $122 per barrel on Wednesday — Atkinson said he would not be shocked if it reached $200 per barrel in the coming months.

“That’s more than scary territory,” Bartlett said.

“If it did go up to $175, to $190 or to $200, that would trigger a very big recession in my view,” he said.

Asked what would happen to gas prices if the price of oil reaches those levels, De Haan said: “You don’t want to know.”

De Haan, who has been at GasBuddy for 13 years, said that until a few months ago, he could not have imagined current gas prices so high.

“Never,” he said. “It’s like on a nice March day in Oklahoma, and a warm front comes through, and then suddenly you have tornadoes all around you. The environment is just juiced for gas prices to surge.”

Bartlett said prices aren’t likely coming down anytime soon because the U.S. has just started the summer travel season.

“It’s going to take a downturn in demand,” he said. “It’s going to take people changing how they drive, and sometimes driving less. It’s going to take people to change their driving habits.”

He said if there is a drop in demand, it won’t likely occur until the fall.

“Once demand starts to go down, there should be a pretty good drop” in prices, he said.

“If that’s going to happen it will probably be sometime in the fall. I’d say probably late fall,” Bartlett said.

“I just hope we get back to some kind of equilibrium that’s fair for everyone,” Atkinson said.


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RRH Graphic, Oil

WHY WERE CARBON CREDITS CREATED?

The burning of fossil fuels is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and the carbon credit concept came into existence as a result of increasing awareness of the need for controlling these emissions and to limit global warming. Credits are a valuable tool in the fight against climate change, by helping companies with a carbon footprint, especially those generating global emissions in developing countries. They are units of carbon dioxide that can be traded in carbon markets. The credits are generated by carbon projects, such as planting trees, which offset carbon emissions from things like factories and power plants. By buying carbon credits, businesses and individuals can offset their own carbon emissions. The carbon market is a way to put a price on carbon, which incentivizes businesses to reduce their emissions. Carbon markets can also be used to fund carbon projects, which help to offset carbon emissions and create jobs in the renewable energy sector. Credits are an important part of the fight against climate change, and they provide a way for businesses and individuals to offset their carbon emissions.

Figure 1: The Carbon Credit Ecosystem, by the Paia Team

Figure 1: The Carbon Credit Ecosystem, by the Paia Team

WHAT IS A CARBON CREDIT?

A credit is a permit that allows the owner to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. One credit permits the emission of one ton of carbon dioxide or the equivalent in other greenhouse gases.

The credit is half of a so-called “cap-and-trade” program. Companies that pollute are awarded credits that allow them to continue to pollute up to a certain limit. That limit is reduced periodically. Meanwhile, the company may sell any unneeded credits to another company that needs them.

CARBON CREDIT HISTORY

Since it’s difficult to understand just how much a ton of carbon is, the term “carbon offset” gives emissions a manageable metric.

The concept of using carbon credits to measure emissions started in the early twentieth century. The decision to market them, however, didn’t begin until the 1997 UN Kyoto Protocol, the first international agreement to cut CO2 emissions.

Since then, carbon credits and their cousins, carbon offsets, have become a popular revenue generation tool for farmers, ranchers, and landowners.

CARBON CREDIT TYPES

There are two types of credits. Voluntary emissions reduction (VER) is a carbon offset that is exchanged in the over-the-counter or voluntary market for credits. Certified emissions reduction (CER) relies on emission units (or credits) created through a regulatory framework with the purpose of offsetting a project’s emissions.

WHAT IS A CARBON CREDIT WORTH?

The value of carbon credits can vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of project they are associated with and the country or region in which they are generated. For example, carbon credits from projects that help reduce deforestation in developing countries are typically worth more than those from industrial gas-reduction projects in developed countries. In summary, the price of carbon offsets varies widely from <$1 per ton to >$50 per ton.

HOW LARGE IS THE CARBON CREDIT MARKET?

Estimates of the size of the credit voluntary market vary wildly, due to the different regulations in each market and other geographical distinctions. Some analysts take a very optimistic view of the carbon credit markets, and though designed to combat climate change and reduce overall emissions, revenues generated are still growing while the carbon dioxide removed has been somewhat insignificant. The voluntary carbon market, consisting largely of companies that buy carbon offsets for CSR reasons, had an estimated value of $1 billion in 2021, according to some figures. The market for compliance credits, related to regulatory carbon caps, is substantially larger, with estimates ranging as high as $272 billion for the year 2020.

ARE STATES CREATING ANY KIND OF MARKET FOR CARBON TRADING?

California is the only state with a state cap-and-trade market for carbon. By 2030, the state aims to lower emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels. About 450 entities targeted by the market must deliver an overall 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to the ”business-as-usual” scenario in 2020. Companies covered by the state law can purchase a certain percentage of credits to stay under the emissions cap. California carbon credits are expected to increase by about 66 percent to $41 by 2030, according to the International Emissions Trading Association.

Aside from California, Oregon considered a bill this year that would limit emissions from regulated sectors to reach a 45 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2035, and an 80 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2050.

Washington recently passed a law this year that puts a limit on the number of greenhouse gases that can be emitted and then auction off allowances to certain highly pollutive sectors until that cap is reached. The state’s goal is to reduce emissions by 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Each year until then, the cap will be reduced allowing total emissions to fall. The program’s first compliance period will begin in 2023

WHERE CAN YOU BUY AND SELL CARBON CREDITS?

Financial transactions for carbon credits, once issued, are handled on carbon exchanges, or through brokers and retailers. Through these third parties, project developers may sell issued credits to interested buyers such as companies looking to offset their unavoidable emissions.

Credit buyers may choose to engage directly with project developers, at any point from methodology development, to after credits have been issued. Getting involved at earlier project stages enables credit buyers to understand the offsets project more deeply, and skipping third parties such as brokers or retailers also gives buyers access to lower prices.

For buyers interested in a range of readily available offsets, and saving time on engaging directly with project developers, third parties may be more suitable. Carbon exchanges – such as Climate Impact X (CIX), a global carbon exchange headquartered in Singapore – allow for quick transactions and large volumes of carbon credits. Brokers offer similar benefits while helping buyers access more project information, though at higher costs. Retailers suit buyers looking to buy credits at smaller volumes

MEASURING YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

You can visit the website “Our World in Data” to find the C02 profile for the United States which is an excellent resource for C02 emissions and statistics and total emissions. The average person in the United States produces annual greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 16.16 metric tons.

SEE: LIVE CARBON PRICES TODAY

RELATED:  SOURCES OF GREENHOUSE GASES

The question of what are greenhouse gases must have come to your mind also because the word Greenhouse gases originate from many sources and is why we have the carbon credit marketplace. Some gases, such as methane, are produced through agricultural methods, which include everything from the feces of livestock to dead bodies. Gases such as CO2 are generated largely by natural processes such as respiration and the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas.

Deforestation is also another cause of CO2 release. When trees are cut down for wood or cultivation land, they release carbon that is normally stored for photosynthesis. According to the 2010 Global Forest Resources Assessment, this process releases about one billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year.

Large industries and steel factories have also been involved in greenhouse gas emissions. According to NASA, since the Industrial Revolution began, atmospheric CO2 levels have risen by about 38 percent and methane levels by 148 percent, and much of this growth has occurred in the last 50 years.

greenhouse gas emissions

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Credits were devised as a mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Companies get a set number of credits, which decline over time. They can sell any excess to another company.
  • Credits create a monetary incentive for companies to reduce their carbon emissions. Those that cannot easily reduce emissions can still operate, at a higher financial cost.
  • Credits generated are based on the “cap-and-trade system” model that was used to reduce sulfur pollution in the 1990s.
  • Negotiators at the Glasgow COP26 climate change summit in November 2021 agreed to create a global credit offset trading market.

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LEASING OR SELLING OIL & GAS MINERAL RIGHTS

If you or your family members are considering leasing to an oil company or selling your mineral rights in Oklahoma or Texas, go visit redriverhub.com, the premier oil, and gas mineral rights platform where mineral owners can lease or sell their mineral rights. Red River Hub is a site built by mineral owners for mineral owners.  Visit RedRiverHub.

 

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