US energy bill wouldn't lower gasoline prices

Bob Tippee

"Folks," Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said after the US House of Representatives passed comprehensive energy legislation Apr. 21, "it's about gas prices, gas prices, gas prices."

Well, that's malarkey, malarkey, malarkey.

It wasn't about "gas prices, gas prices, gas prices" when the House first drafted then passed basically the same energy bill in 2001-02. Gasoline then was cheap and therefore ineffective as a political lever.

Now, of course, expensive gasoline captures public attention. Lawmakers naturally try to harness the concern in service to energy legislation the White House wants them to pass despite past failures.

They shouldn't promise more than their bill can deliver.

It's true that pieces of the far-flung legislation might increase crude oil supply and encourage refinery expansion, which would tend to moderate gasoline prices. And a controversial provision would let refiners concentrate on making fuel instead of defending their bank accounts against opportunistic lawsuits. The legislation has its merits.

Overall, however, it would more likely increase than lower gasoline prices. Here's why: It would ban methyl tertiary butyl ether and require ethanol in reformulated gasoline. That combination would suppress supply and raise costs of bringing gasoline to market.

Ethanol can't extend supply to anywhere near the extent its supporters claim—if at all. It blends at lower volumes than the MTBE it displaces, requires rejection of light ends from blendstocks during summer, uses considerable amounts of energy in production, and contains less energy than gasoline.

It requires special handling and, because of high production costs, wouldn't be a fuel additive without a generous tax credit. Also, largely because of evaporative emissions, replacing MTBE with ethanol in reformulated gasoline aggravates ozone pollution in some areas and lifts prospects for more costly regulation.

Lawmakers serious about prices would not require ethanol in gasoline. Farm-state lawmakers, however, won't support an energy bill that lacks an ethanol mandate.

To many segments of the oil and gas industry, beneficial pieces of the energy bill justify a trade-off on ethanol.

But no one in the industry should join lawmakers in implying the bill would lower gasoline prices. It isn't so.

(Author's e-mail: bobt@ogjonline.com)

Related Articles

CNOOC subsidiary inks deal for grassroots refinery

02/02/2015 Hebei Zhongjie Petrochemical Group Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), has entered into a $700 million agreement w...

Union strike under way at US refineries, petchem plants

02/02/2015 The United Steelworkers Union (USW) has instituted a strike at nine US refining and petrochemical production plants following a breakdown in negoti...

Novel upgrading technology cuts diluent use, capital costs

02/02/2015 A novel bitumen upgrading process that decreases the amount of diluent required for pipeline transportation and reduces overall operating costs has...

E&Y: Oil-price collapse to boost global M&A activity in 2015

02/02/2015 The oil-price collapse will facilitate increased global transaction activity in 2015 as companies revise and implement new strategies, according to...

Trinidad ULSD plant won’t be built in 2015, Petrotrin executive says

01/28/2015 Trinidad and Tobago’s state-owned Petrotrin has announced that its $500 million ultralow-sulfur diesel (ULSD) plant cannot be commissioned because ...

Vietnam advances Dung Quat refinery expansion plans

01/26/2015 Binh Son Refining & Petrochemical Co. Ltd. (BSR), a subsidiary of state-owned Vietnam National Oil & Gas Group (PetroVietnam), has unveiled...

OGJ Newsletter

01/26/2015

International news for oil and gas professionals

Varo Energy plans upgrades for Swiss refinery

01/23/2015 Varo Energy BV, a midstream company owned by The Carlyle Group and Vitol Group, plans to invest more than 50 million Swiss francs ($56 million) thi...

Kuwait lets contract for Mina Abdullah refinery

01/22/2015 Kuwait National Petroleum Co. (KNPC), through a subcontractor, has let a contract to Mushrif Trading & Contracting Co. for work related to its ...
White Papers

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...

Accurate Thermo-Fluid Simulation in Real Time Environments

The crux of any task undertaken in System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis is striking a balance between ti...

6 ways for Energy, Chemical and Oil and Gas Companies to Avert the Impending Workforce Crisis

As many as half of the skilled workers in energy, chemical and oil & gas industries are quickly he...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

When Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


The Future of US Refining

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST


Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected