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Adam Sieminski, administrator for the U.S. Energy Information Administration and a Williamsport native, shared insights into the status of global energy supplies and consumption with more than 120 people during a public presentation held at Lycoming College on Oct. 22.
According to Sieminski, U.S. energy use will grow slowly through 2040 as the economy recovers and industry-wide energy efficiency measures improve. As the economy improves, it will be shaped by the growing domestic production of oil and natural gas. With the anticipated growth in shale gas production, natural gas is expected to become the largest source of U.S. electric power generation, surpassing coal within 5 to 10 years. Coal and gas now represent about 40 and 30 percent of U.S. power production respectively.
Shale gas production has slowed in central Pennsylvania because supplies are exceeding demand, and because of a lack of infrastructure to get gas to areas further from production sites. Potential trade agreements with foreign countries that are eager to purchase liquefied natural gas from the U.S. could possibly produce another economic boom in the area in upcoming years. Not only will strong growth in domestic natural gas production support increased exports of both pipeline and liquefied natural gas, U.S. dependence on imported fuels will fall sharply.
The U.S. has experienced a rapid increase in natural gas and oil production from shale and other tight resources over the past five years. Tight oil production increased from about 500,000 barrels per day to 4,500,000 per day since 2010 and shale gas production increased from about 10 billion cubic feet per day to more than 40 billion cubic feet per day. In September, estimated U.S. tight oil production was about 50 percent of total U.S. production and estimated U.S. shale gas production about 56 percent of total U.S. production. Production growth in the top crude producing regions in the U.S. started to reverse in early 2015.
Oil supply and demand will begin to rebalance in 2016. Although prices and economic growth are important factors regarding demand, policy, preferences, and technology may have a bigger long-term impact. Iranian crude oil production is expected to begin increasing in the second quarter of 2016, which is expected to drive down oil prices world-wide.
The share of U.S. energy consumption from renewable energy sources is at its highest since the 1930s. The U.S. is second in the world with renewable electricity production, behind China, which has about double the capacity of the U.S. Both countries are expected to continue to increase renewable energy production.
Because of the growing concern about the climate, renewable energy and nuclear power are the fastest growing sources of world energy consumption. The international energy outlook compiled in 2015 will show the growth of carbon emissions is slowing.
Improved efficiency of energy use and a shift away from carbon-intensive fuels will keep U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions below their 2005 levels through 2040. With the proposed Clean Power Plan, the electricity mix will continue to shift to lower-carbon options, led initially by growth in natural gas and later by renewable generation.
The Lycoming College Institute for Management Studies sponsored the presentation as a part of its James W. Harding Executive Speaker Series. The series, named for a 1938 graduate of Lycoming College, provides students with the opportunity to meet and network with some of America’s top business executives from internationally-recognized organizations.