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On Will the Iranian Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty become a Threat to U.S. Energy Security?

Lewis, per your suggestion, some edits have been made.  Thanks for your input.

August 29, 2015    View Comment    

On Will the Iranian Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty become a Threat to U.S. Energy Security?

Clifford, we are getting a bit off subject, but compared to alternative projections for U.S. energy supply-demand the EIA has one of the most sophisticated models (NEMS) and access to large data bases compared to other organizations.  Are their projections 100% accurate, no, none are, but they are generally more accurate, unbiased, and consistent than other sources (BP, IEA, etc.).  The EIA also continuously updates/corrects their data monthly.  As far as the EPA reference, it is an example of how the EPA addresses/regulates water issues via alternative non-CWA exemptions.  Also, if you research States’ Environmental Agencies you will find they have greater flexibility to regulate/address all potential environmental issues relative to hydraulic fracturing.  You either trust State and Federal Agencies to address significant concerns or not.

Back on the subject, it appears you may support the Iranian Nuclear Deal as written since you apparently believe that further restricting U.S. domestic oil production will somehow reduce U.S. Consumer demand.  Unfortunately, history and market fundamentals do not support this belief or political position, since without U.S. domestic production (i.e. continued world oil oversupply and drop in market WTI prices into the $30/Bbl. range possibly caused by the Iranian nuclear deal) imports from countries outside North America are going to increase.  Who benefits?  Not the global environment, not the U.S. economy or its Energy Security.  OPEC & Russia will of course likely benefit.  I hope you do not anticipate that implementing the nuclear agreement will restore Iranian crude oil imports, which have been blocked since 1980.

Anyway, time to move on Clifford.  I have enjoyed the debate and respect you views.  I look forward to further debate-exchanges with my next TEC article next month on the impacts of U.S. oil exports on U.S. Energy Security.

August 29, 2015    View Comment    

On Will the Iranian Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty become a Threat to U.S. Energy Security?

Clifford, I agree-to-disagree. Are you aware that DOE/EIA is an independent Federal Agency that routinely develops projections that are based on ‘existing regulations’ and are developed for other Federal Agencies and the general Public.  The routinely added new Federal and State regulations are one of the primary reasons the projection change with time, including changes to the overall economy’s health.  I have studied and analyzed these projections for decades and find them to be reasonable accurate most the time.  If you believe the DOE/EIA is corrupted by the Oil & Gas Industries, I suggest you file a complaint to your Congress representatives and/or the Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz.

As far as environmental impacts, I suggest you do some research and not just assume that oil & gas production to harmful to the environment; beginning with fuels switching from coal-to-natural gas historic impacts on fixed-stack emissions.  In the case of hydraulic fracturing being totally exempt from all regulations you might want to begin with researching the EPA’s regulatory authorities

As far as States favoring the Oil & Gas Industries, my experience and paradigm is California.  Suggest you start your research there first.

August 28, 2015    View Comment    

On Will the Iranian Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty become a Threat to U.S. Energy Security?

Lewis, the issue here is not whether the 2015 NPT is a formal ‘treaty-modification’ requiring Senate approval or whether the JCPOA is just ‘agreement’ between Iran and the UN P5+1 group (U.S., China, Russia, U.K., France and Germany), which may be completed by Executive action without Congress approval.  The issue here is the potential impacts on U.S. Energy Security if the agreement is implemented as currently written; including the apparent secret IAEA-Iran side agreements yet-to-be-fully presented to Congress.  The impacts in this case would be due to almost immediately lifting many sanctions, such as the restricted Iranian oil exports, which were put in place by the UN and agreed to by the current Administration and Congress in 2012; due to Iran’s violations of the latest NPT.  The JCPOA (or 2015 NPT as the State Department routinely references) will rapidly lift the recent 2012 oil export sanctions and past frozen Iran bank assets sanctions.  This U.S. Executive/P5+1 action will likely increase national and international risks without possibly any improvement in Iran’s compliance with the past NPT or the current JCPOA agreement.  In other words, what benefits will the U.S. and the UN get from this latest Iran NPT change in the short- and long-terms?   Definitely not increased U.S. Energy Security.

August 28, 2015    View Comment    

On Will the Iranian Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty become a Threat to U.S. Energy Security?

Clifford, yes “maybe you are missing something”.  You’re missing some of the facts on several major issues that do not fully support the current 2015 NPT as written and apparently agreed to by Iran.  First, the U.S. currently relies on over 23% of its total energy supplies from petroleum and natural gas liquid fuels.  The EIA AEO 2015 projects the U.S. will still require about 26% of its total energy supplies from petroleum and natural gas liquid hydrocarbons by 2030; for an increase up to 40% over the next 15-odd years.  As you may be aware, the Transportation Sector currently requires 96% of its total energy supplies from petroleum hydrocarbon liquids/fuels.  This level or reliance on petroleum motor fuels is only projected to be reduced by about 1% in 2030.  This projection indicates that despite current CAFE, Renewable Fuels Standards and substantially subsidies for alternative motor fuels, such as EV’s, that the growth in the U.S. economy and population will generally offset these policy petroleum consumption reductions.  This will result in continued-substantial risk to U.S. Energy Security should its current and future supplies be significantly disrupted.  As I cover in detail within this TEC article, the 2015 NPT is overly generous and too quick in lifting substantial financial sanctions could very likely facilitate such an increase in U.S. Energy Security risk.

The EIA’s AEO 2015 forecast also projects that U.S.’s total exposure to crude and petroleum oil imports could be reduced from about 30% today, possibly down to 21% by 2030; which represents a significant increase in U.S. Energy Security.  This projection, however, assumes that domestic production, largely from hydraulic fracturing technologies, will enable a 50% increase in domestic crude and natural gas liquids by 2030.  So, the “time they (these domestic productions) are actually needed” is ‘today and the foreseeable future’.  I’ll leave your “more harmful environmental” comments debate for another time, but take note that with nearly insignificant exceptions, all oil & gas production is currently in full compliance with State and Federal (EPA) regulations.  If and when they are not, State and Federal Agencies normally take appropriate actions to correct or shutdown production facilities not in full compliance.  Can you reference actual-credible significant examples that indicate otherwise? 

August 27, 2015    View Comment    

On Will the Iranian Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty become a Threat to U.S. Energy Security?

Yes, I have seen lots of kids shovel snow (when I was younger), but with the development of snow blower technologies shoveling is so inefficient and time consuming.  Petroleum fueled snow blowers have been around for over 100 years and are far easier for cleaning off one’s driveway during the winter; assuming you can afford one.  They have even become ‘green’ in recent years with the development of the newer ‘electric snow blowers’.

Rick, I’m just kidding, but I couldn’t resist joking in support of your comment.  Agreed, the problem statement is sometimes better educating folks of how past and many current populations have significantly different lifestyles and standards of living; and associated opinions on many subjects.

August 26, 2015    View Comment    

On Will the Iranian Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty become a Threat to U.S. Energy Security?

Mark, it sounds like we are in agreement that remote detection of Iranian nuclear activities will be difficult-to-impossible to determine remotely.  Unless the UN/IAEA has access to all Iranian nuclear facilities, especially those underground, and has the unconstrained ability to sample and analyze the operations under controlled-independent laboratory conditions, no one outside the Iranian regime will know whether Iran is in compliance with the 2015 NPT or grossly violating it.

August 24, 2015    View Comment    

On Will the Iranian Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty become a Threat to U.S. Energy Security?

Mark, the enrichment level of the actual uranium can be estimated from the radiation levels emitted by measuring the raw uranium material.  Refer to a past related study on the subject.  However, to accurately determine the actual level of uranium enrichment the UN inspectors will need to get samples from the Iranians and have them analyzed in a certified lab.  The problem statement of this action is Iran’s denying access to any of their nuclear facilities by UN or IAEA inspectors under the 2015 NPT as currently written (including the confidential-secret side agreements), and the likelihood of the Iranians never giving up actual uranium samples for verification of the enrichment levels.  These factors make verifying Iran’s supposed limited enrichment over the next 10-15 years highly questionable.

August 23, 2015    View Comment    

On Will the Iranian Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty become a Threat to U.S. Energy Security?

Rick, per you suggestion I refer folks to the following map.  Yes, Iran has numerous known nuclear facilities and who knows how many yet to be discovered or under construction sites.  And with added funding Iran will very likely seek nuclear technologies and materials/weapons from countries such as Pakistan and very likely North Korea.  Russia and China may also become involved in this market, particularly when other countries such as Saudi Arabia enter the potentially new-growing nuclear race within this region.

As you state, part of the problem with understanding the importance of U.S. Energy Security is due to knowledge, perception and personal experiences.  Since you and I lived through the energy crises of the 1970’s and 80’s we have personal experience with gasoline station lines, even-odd access days and restrictions to purchasing petroleum related goods and services created by supply shortages/restrictions and the unintentional consequences of Federal price controls.  Also, if you lived at and near the coast prior to major hurricanes, you also have similar experiences such as stores running out of food, bottle water, batteries and other potentially needed (off-grid and markets supplies) as everyone in the area stocked up and in some cases hoarded potentially needed supplies to survive the storm, utility outages and possible infrastructure-residential damage. 

The potential issue with some of the younger generations is that many can become spoiled and use to accessing whatever we want and whenever we want it.  It will be a new and less than pleasant experience for many if the U.S. were subjected to another large energy crisis such as loss of only 5% of petroleum oil supplies.  The gas-lines will start fairly quickly and prices will skyrocket, followed by shortages of other goods that must be transported large distances in order to supply normal market demand.

August 23, 2015    View Comment    

On Will the Iranian Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty become a Threat to U.S. Energy Security?

Hops, one detail the former U.S. Ambassador may have not fully explained: detecting radiation months after the event depends on how sloppy the Iranian lab/production facilities’ containment practices were and the ability of the U.S. to physically-closely access (feet-yards, not miles) the facilities.  I use to work in a lab that dealt with radioactive materials and detection/identifying leakage was absolutely critical to safe operations.  Yes, technologies have improved over the years.  Refer to a recent CRS report for example. But, our ability to identify radiation from drones or space is quite limited; particularly if the Iranians shield their facilities from external detection.  Having access to the actual facilities and on an on-demand/timely basis will be absolutely critical to ensure Iran complies with the 2015 NPT. 

August 22, 2015    View Comment    

On Will the Iranian Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty become a Threat to U.S. Energy Security?

Mark, you may be right with modern double hulled tankers as far as smaller vessel/weapons having more difficulty in sinking these vessels.  But, don’t forget there are still numerous single hulled tankers in operation that will be much more vulnerable to smaller weapons attacks.

I hope you are correct that Iran won’t want to attack the Strait of Hormuz shipping for any reason in the future.  Assuming the 2015 NPT is implemented as currently written and with IAEA inspections or lack thereof that will likely enable Iran to continue with their nuclear development program.  The Country at greatest risk could soon become Saudi Arabia; Iran’s major OPEC/oil market competitor.  That’s why we are likely to see the Saudi’s soon seek nuclear weapons in their own defense.  How safe do you think our international security will become under these conditions?

August 22, 2015    View Comment    

On Will the Iranian Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty become a Threat to U.S. Energy Security?

Hops, perhaps the IAEA’s competence, or lack thereof, was the issue.  Congress is currently strongly debating the 2015 NPT and has major concerns with the IAEA, who are responsible to inspect/verify Iran’s compliance with the treaty.  The IAEA is apparently trying to block Congresses access to the inspection side-agreements with Iran; saying its confidential.  But, what has yet to be covered in the Media is the fact that the IAEA was also responsible to inspect/verify North Korea’s compliance with the 1992/94 NPT agreement.  How well did that work?

August 22, 2015    View Comment