US Government weekly Oil Report Site

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Sep 19, 2008

This US government official site is of real interest if you want to follow refinery utilization, what fuels are made/imported/exported and in what quantities, the total amount of crude available in the US , etc. It is generally updated every Wednesday at 10:30 AM unless there is a holiday which will postpone it a day.

This info is used by investors, by utilities and others looking to understand where things are and where they might be headed in the petroluem supply world.
After viewing several government sites it appears that with the threat that America might step up drilling now, the price of oil from the Mid-East is getting cheaper. It's about time we got some relief from our government.
OPEC has had us by the huevos for decades so it's past time that we don't have to depend on those pirates for crude oil so much. The Green River oil shale formation in Colorado and Utah is said to contain over three trillion barrels of oil so the US will probably be the leading exporter of oil for many years too came. Now we will be setting the price and those OPEC countries will be coming to us with their hats,make that their kufiyas, in their hands asking us to increase production.
The shale oil in Western Colorado is very tightly held by the formations. It has to be "cooked" out of the rock, then quenched to suppress the thermal cracking reactions. Low crude oil prices in most of the late 80's and 90's caused most, if not all, of that shale oil (kerogen) mining to be abandoned. One of my projects in the 90's was relocating some idled facilities that had been used for refining such shale oil to Texas for use with refining conventional crude oils.

That shale oil is also very high in arsene, and releases into waters contaminate those waters badly for many years. Last I knew, the reactors used in one such shale oil mining / refining process to remove the arsene compounds that was idled would not be accepted by any scrap metal facility, so they were encased in concrete and abandoned in place.

Shell had developed a process of freezing the subsurface water surrounding the mining site but I didn't keep up with the demonstration tests with it. That process reduced the recoverable amount of oil significantly vs. the earlier methods though.
My impression: Unfortunately OPEC still has the upper hand, because their oil is much cheaper to extract than ours. Now that our production (US & Canada) has ramped up, OPEC might lower their prices to the point that our production is no longer profitable, yet they can still make a good profit. It's hard to imagine the lucrative profits some OPEC nations have been making this last decade at the prices that traders have been happy to play.
"Nyogtha" correctly states the difficulty of extracting oil from the Colorado shale, many oil field geologists call it oil shale, and not shale oil. The difference is huge, if you crack and frac the shale oil fields the oil can easily be pumped out. If you frac or even shatter the oil shale, nothing comes out. Nothing. You can mine it, then heat it a lot and some comes out, hopefully enough to overcome the tremendous energy required to mine it and cook it. You can also attempt to heat it underground in place, with similar difficulties.

Even while crude oil prices were peaking at $100 a barrel or more, Shell oil ended its experiments and stated that prices closer to $200 would be required to make it competitive. And, of course you would need to mine the entire state, and ignore the tremendous carbon dioxide release to the atmosphere resulting from using 2 or 3 gallons of crude to release one gallon net.

We are getting almost 1 million barrels a day from North Dakota.....but we have reduced our overall demand from 21 million barrels a day to 18 million......3 million extra through energy efficiency. Waste not, want not plays a bigger role than most realized!
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There is a ton of info on the EIA site.

Yesterday, I saw a segment on tv where a Dem and a Repub were debating the Keystone XL pipeline. The Repub Congressman rebutted the Administration claim that if its built most or all of the oil or refined product that results from the pipeline will be sold to other countries and little if any will find its way into U.S. gas tanks. The Repub claimed that the EIA has said that oil from the XL pipeline WILL be sold in the U.S. Presumably WILL be sold, not can be sold.

I can't find that info anywhere on the EIA site (I surfed the site and also entered "markets for Keystone XL pipeline oil" in their search engine). Does anyone know if its there?

The articles I've read (at least a year ago) indicated that four major oil companies would take the XL pipeline oil (if it's ever built): Royal Dutch Shell, Valero, Total, and Sasol. The last two don't have retail outlets in the U.S. Valero does although on a limited scale (I believe they are mainly in the refining business), but Valero indicated in a investor prospectus that they intended to refine the oil as diesel and sell it to China. Other articles indicated that the heavy crude (bitumen) coming out of the XL pipeline would be refined as diesel and would be sold abroad to countries that have heavy diesel demand. If any of this is true, the XL pipeline would have a very limited benefit for the U.S. But the public perception I think is that the pipeline will increase the gas supply in the U.S.
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Valero has significant retail presence in both the USA and Canada. When they purchased Ultramar Diamond Shamrock (itself a merger between Ultramar and Diamond Shamrock, which had purchased Total's US refineries and retail) it went from a merchant refiner to a refiner / retailer in a big way. Since then Valero bought out Mapco's refinery and others with retail networks (Premcor / Clark for example).

Valero changed from primarily being in the natural gas and natural gas liquids business with one refinery (which wasn't really a complete refinery) to one of the major US refining companies by volume over the past 15 years or so.
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