Bridge fuel? Gas overtook coal for first time, renewables account for majority of generation capacity additions

Fracking in places like Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale pushed gas to the top, helping to keep U.S. carbon emissions at 1992 levels according to federal reports.

(for more on fracking, Pittsburgh and more visit MatthewPitzarella.com)

Low prices for natural gas present challenges for the engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs in the natural gas industry (challenges they certainly seem up for), but those low prices also brought on “near-record low electricity prices” for consumers according to the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Enforcement Division of Energy Market Oversight’s latest report. This also presents challenges for the men and women who work in the incredible coal industry as well.

According to the authors:

“Overall in 2016 there were record low natural gas prices and near record low electricity prices. Although natural gas production fell for the first time since 2005, flat demand due to above average winter temperatures at the start of the year and high natural gas storage inventories contributed to the low prices. The low natural gas prices further incentivized gas-fired generation in 2016, and for the first time in history, natural gas’ share of total electricity generation output overtook coal’s on an annual basis.”

2016 spot gas prices FERC

The report touches on at how natural gas producers have responded to lower prices, by investing less dollars into new wells and thereby producing less gas, along with other interesting market dynamics at play:

“During 2016, U.S. natural gas production fell 2.5 percent, averaging 72.3 Bcfd, the first year-over-year drop since large scale shale production began in 2005. However, as oil prices recovered beginning in the first quarter of 2016, natural gas production rose 11 percent in the oil and natural gas liquids rich Bakken Shale in North Dakota, Marcellus and Utica shales in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio, and Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico. These gains were offset by an estimated 14 percent drop in conventional production, and by production declines in the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas, the Haynesville Shale in Texas and Louisiana and the Niobrara Shale in Colorado and Wyoming.

Natural gas production from the Marcellus and Utica shales accounted for 30 percent of the U.S. total in 2016, due to the prolific nature of these formations, relatively low production costs, and proximity to the large Northeast markets. In addition, new pipeline infrastructure reduced bottlenecks allowing additional gas to reach the demand centers. Total U.S. production is poised to rebound slightly in 2017, driven by a projected 26 percent increase in oil and gas exploration and production investment in North America from 2016 levels.”

This analysis comes on the heels of another report from the International Energy Agency or IEA indicating a “striking drop in carbon pollution in the US, where emissions fell back to what they were in 1992” according to Environment Correspondent Pilita Clark of the Financial Times:

“This is a very welcome development,” said Fatih Birol, IEA executive director. “It appears we now have the first signs of an established trend of flat emissions as a result of natural gas replacing coal in major markets and renewables becoming more and more affordable.”

IEA global carbon 2016

To read the full IEA document check out their posting “IEA finds CO2 emissions flat for third straight year even as global economy grew in 2016.”

“With the appropriate policies, and large amounts of shale reserves, natural gas production in the United States could keep growing strongly in the years to come. This could have three main consequences: it could boost domestic manufacturing, supply more competitive gas to Asia through to LNG exports, and provide alternative gas supplies to Europe. US and natural gas prospects will be explored in details in the next World Energy Outlook 2017.”

gas and renewables FERC 2016

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Pittsburgh Business Times: “Pitzarella joins Buchanan Ingersoll”

In a follow up to Paul Gough’s Pittsburgh Business Times piece last month “Pitzarella leaves Range Resources after 8 years” the paper’s Patty Tascarella followed up with “Pitzarella joins Buchanan Ingersoll.”

(for more news see “Great memories and relationships“)

As Tascarella’s story starts with:

“Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC has hired one of the most visible players in southwest Pennsylvania’s energy sector. Matt Pitzarella joined Pittsburgh’s third-largest law firm as director of the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Section.”

For the full story you really should check out the Business Times coverage or my initial thoughts on the decision “Pitzarella joins Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney.”

Influential Marcellus Shale writer Jim Willis posted to his site “Range Resources’ PR Chief Matt Pitzarella Jumps Ship to Law Firm.” If you’ve never visited his site Marcellus Drilling News be sure to check it out.

Be sure to follow Pittsburgh’s Matt Pitzarella on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Pittsburgh tops list of U.S. downtown “comebacks”

Readers of Realtor.com now know what the Pitzarella household has long maintained: downtown Pittsburgh has truly transformed itself. In fact the influential website listed Pittsburgh number one on their list of “Top 10 Cities Where Downtown Is Making a Comeback”

Make sure to check the post out for yourself right here, but the survey cites a 32% population growth with a 31% increase home price growth since 2012. Another recent report pointed to the boost in jobs thanks in part to natural gas from shale and “fracking” in the manufacturing field.

Further from the Realtor.com post:

In the downtown “Golden Triangle,” there are rooftop bars, hipsterfied eateries, and craft breweries. The renovated Market Square Place is buzzing day and night, and there’s even an influx of experimental public art. The latest installation: an “interactive jukebox” that played sound tracks while 6,000 LED lights flashed, making the square look like a giant spinning record in the sky. Cool, right?

As I recently shared, it’s a real joy to return to working in downtown Pittsburgh in my new position. And it appears that the timing couldn’t be better.

Be sure to follow Pittsburgh’s Matt Pitzarella on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Matt Pitzarella joins Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney

During my career I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some of the most dynamic and exciting organizations on a variety of issues – none more so than responsible energy development. So it’s with great privilege to join Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney PC as their Director – Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Section out of their Pittsburgh office.

I was immediately attracted to Buchanan’s historic past and valued reputation. Having worked as a consultant and for companies involved in pipelines, public utilities, power generation, and energy exploration and production I’ve long held the firm and their attorneys in incredibly high regard. It’s particularly exciting to now work alongside those dynamic men and women.

If you’ve not had the chance please check out knowingEnergyLaw, a Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney blog, Trending in Energy: Natural Gas for Current Legal, Political and Business Issues Shaping E&P, Midstream and Downstream Natural Gas Markets, and Trend in Energy: Renewables for Current Legal, Political and Business Issues Shaping Utility Scale Wind and Solar Energy Development.

Be sure to follow Pittsburgh’s Matt Pitzarella on Twitter and LinkedIn

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Pittsburgh region, “tip of the ethane iceberg”

Beaver County, home to nearby Marcellus Shale development (and several members of the extended Pitzarella family), is poised for growth thanks to Shell’s announced ethane “cracker.”

In a three part series from Natural Gas Intel, the editors gathered with industry experts and analysts to see what the downstream future for natural gas related products like ethane could mean for the region.

Panelists indicated the hope is for the announced facility to be the “tip of the iceberg” for more such facilities. From the report:

The Appalachian Basin’s shale formations helped to birth the natural gas renaissance in North America, and the region now is poised to join the Gulf Coast as a major petrochemical hub, a group of experts said Monday.


Be sure to follow Pittsburgh’s Matt Pitzarella on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Pittsburgh Most Livable City

The Pitzarella household, like many, can attest that Pittsburgh is indeed a terrific city. Since the turn of the century, Pittsburgh has consistently ranked at or near the tops of several such lists.

NEXTPIttsburgh recently wrote of a report from The Economist Intelligence Unit:

The Economist has ranked Pittsburgh as the most livable city in the continental Unites States squeaking in just under Honolulu.

That’s not all, Forbes also ranked Pittsburgh the Most Liveable Scott in America. National Urban Media indicated “in compiling their list, Forbes.com measured five data points in the nation’s 200 largest metropolitan statistical areas and averaged them to arrive at a final score. Those data points included: unemployment, crime, income growth, the cost of living, and artistic and cultural opportunities. Forbes.com utilized information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Moody’s, the FBI, and Sperling’s Best Places Arts and Leisure index.”

That’s not all, in one of their more recent lists Money magazine also found the Steel City to be the best city to live in the northeastern United States. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote at the time:

Pittsburgh’s transformation into a high-tech hub has catapulted the former rust-belt city to the No. 1 spot as best urban area to live in the Northeast by Money magazine.

The magazine includes the steel city among five “urban gems” across the country that offer an “abundance of amenities at livable prices.”

For more be sure to check out Travel + Leisure’s post on Pittsburgh.

Be sure to follow Pittsburgh’s Matt Pitzarella on Twitter and LinkedIn

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Great memories and relationships

As I shared with the Pittsburgh Business Times the last day of January 2017 in the article “Pitzarella leaves Range Resources after 8 years”

“I’m proud of the work that we accomplished together and will take with me a lot of great memories and relationships. Right now, I’m enjoying time with my family, but this was the right thing at the right time. I’m really appreciative of the opportunity that Range afforded me.”

Be sure to follow Pittsburgh’s Matt Pitzarella on Twitter and LinkedIn

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