National Fuels Policy the Controversy and the Data
- Claude S. Brinegar
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- September 1962
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 942 - 948
- 1962. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 5.7 Reserves Evaluation, 4.3.4 Scale, 7.4.4 Energy Policy and Regulation, 7.4.3 Market analysis /supply and demand forecasting/pricing, 4.6 Natural Gas
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BRINEGAR, CLAUDE S., UNION OIL CO. OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES, CALIF.
A U.S. Senate committee is currently making a comprehensive study, commonly known as the "fuels policy study", of the nation's energy situation and outlook. Considerable squabbling between the coal and petroleum industries preceded passage of the Senate resolution authorizing the study. This paper reviews the background of the controversy, outlines some of the nation's long-term energy trends, and points up a few of the problems the Senators face in dealing with available energy data. Particularly bothersome are data labeled as "reserves", which have different meanings in different industries. It seems likely that the Senate committee will conclude that: (1) the nation's consumption of energy will roughly double between 1960 and 1980; (2) petroleum's share of the total will fall slightly, while coal's share will rise; and (3) U.S. raw material reserves are ample to meet 1980 demands without appreciable increases in real unit costs.
In the closing days of the 1961 session of the United States Congress, the Senate passed Resolution 105, a resolution "to authorize a study of national fuels policy". The resolution was sponsored by 63 Senators including most of the Senate's big names and it was passed on a voice vote, with no floor debate and no evident opposition. A reading of Resolution 105 fails to give much indication either of its possible long-range significance or of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that preceded its passage. The preamble is limited to six paragraphs of "whereas's" a modest number by most standards-which declare, among other things, that (1) energy is essential to the continued prosperity and security of our nation, (2) our population should reach 250 million by 1980 and our consumption of energy should be about double the current rate, and (3) we now have many laws and policies that affect our energy resources. The final and key "whereas" deserves to be quoted in full. Whereas in view of theses and other considerations it appears that a Senate committee study of the fuels industries is desirable to determine what, if any, changes in and implementation of existing and prospective governmental policies and laws may be desirable in order to coordinate and provide and effective national fuels policy (emphasis added) in order to assure a continuation of the Nation's energy supremacy: Now, therefore, be it Resolved that the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs is authorized.... to make a full and complete investigation and study.....
The passage of this resolution commonly called the "National Fuels Policy" resolution marked the end of a two-year fight between various coal-industry and various oil-industry groups. The fight was bitter, it was confused, and it was costly. It included professional advertising campaigns, fancy brochures, and some high-class lobbying. Since coal advocated the Congressional study while oil people generally opposed it, the passage of Senate Resolution 105 could be considered as a victory for coal and a defeat for oil. Whether or not "victory" and "defeat" are the right words, however, we cannot yet tell. But why all the fuss between coal and oil? Congressional committees regularly spend millions of dollars every year in the study of an enormous variety of subjects. What is so unusual about this one? This paper is directed broadly to trying to bring some perspective to this somewhat confused controversy. In addition, the merits and demerits of some of the data the Senate group must use to reach its decisions are briefly discussed.
First, however, agreement should be reached on certain definitions and units of measurement. "Energy", in its broadest sense, refers to anything that contains the inherent power to perform work. Early in 1961, the U. S. Bureau of Mines, in conjunction with Resources for the Future, Inc., published a detailed balance sheet-type study of U. S. energy production and consumption for the year 1954. These six sources of primary energy were treated separately: (1) anthracite coal; (2) bituminous coal and lignite; (3) crude petroleum; (4) natural gas (unprocessed); (5) hydroelectric power; and (6) wood, wood waste and bagasse. In their original units tons, barrels, cubic feet, kilowatt-hours and cords these sources, of course, cannot be added together to yield a meaningful total. The almost universal aggregation procedure is to convert each to the British thermal unit (Btu) the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 lb of water, at its maximum density, by 1 degrees F.
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