Infrastructure, Exports, Cybersecurity To Be Key Energy Trends In 2015

on December 11, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Battle Looms For Coastal Wetland In Southern California

2014 was certainly a busy and productive year for the energy industry and energy policy. We saw a relaxation of crude export regulations for the first time in decades, allowing the glut of condensate the United States is producing to be shipped overseas. We saw high profile political battles over greenhouse gas emissions, hydraulic fracturing, and other issues. At the ballot box, the Senate’s change in leadership will change the committee priorities of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee as the 114th Congress convenes in January.

As with most issues, these are all harbingers of energy trends that remain to be seen in 2015 and beyond.

Most notably (and, perhaps, most recently), the Senate’s majority switch makes it increasingly likely that a relaxation of our policy prohibiting crude oil exports will be on the agenda next year. We’re already seeing action on this issue with Texas Rep. Joe Barton introducing legislation this week to end the four-decade-old ban on exporting U.S. crude.

Bennett Resnik, an expert who has worked in public and private arenas focused on federal- and state-level energy and environmental regulations, agrees. “Right now, the discussion is about condensate but in the near term we’ll see a relaxing on the Commerce Department’s ban on exporting crude oil,” he told LEVICK Energy in a phone interview.

Resnik asserts this is all part of a larger trend of countries in the Western hemisphere working together to enhance North American energy independence and transform the continent into an energy powerhouse. As such, hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – will continue to be on the radar as the United States looks to continue producing record amounts of super light oil that can be made into various products domestically and shipped to hungry markets like Asia.

This increase in production will continue to necessitate the infrastructure to transport, store, process, and use it, and Resnik says that in the coming months, “with the increase in upstream production, we’re going to need pipeline infrastructure, additional oil by rail, and other components to move the landlocked resources like what we’re extracting from North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation.”

Resnik also sees this as the foundation for a third trend to watch for in the coming year – an increased focus on cybersecurity for the U.S. energy sector’s critical infrastructure, noting that “with an increasing amount of data security in the cloud, companies should look to advocate for legislation promoting an increase in cyber risk management and promote stronger internal management processes.”

While the energy industry has made major advances in just the past year, there is little doubt that the United States (and countries all across the globe) is just at the beginning of a full-scale transformation in how we produce, consume, and view our energy resources. We can expect that the energy trends and gains made in the past year – and the speed with we saw them enacted – will only continue in 2015 and beyond.

Posted by Andrew Ricci, Director at LEVICK.

Andrew Ricci is the editor of LEVICK Energy. In addition to this role, he also consults for LEVICK’s energy clients and creates engaging content for a number of LEVICK’s client teams.