Close this search box.




EPRINC studies energy economics and policy issue with special emphasis on oil, natural gas and petroleum product markets. We provide objective and technical analysis on a wide range of energy issues.

Browse by Category

Chart of the Week

U.S. Gulf Coast Refineries Continuing Reliance on Medium and Heavy Sour Crude Oil Imports

  • Refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast (USGC) account for over 9 million barrels per day (mbd), or 55%, of total U.S. refining capacity. While they process a wide slate of crudes, they are commercially optimized to refine medium and heavy sour varieties.


  • The North American shale revolution has grown to produce a bounty of crude oil, but of the light types. USGC refiners still need to import medium and heavy sour oil.


  • The core medium and heavy sour crude USGC suppliers have been Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, and Columbia. To a lesser degree, key OPEC+ countries (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Nigeria, and Russia, the last before 2022 sanctions) have also been a source.


  • However, three of the core suppliers’ imports have been or potentially might be limited.

The Energy Policy Research Foundation and the Global Gas Centre have jointly hosted a webinar on the “Future of North American Natural Gas In A Carbon-Constrained World.” A group of about 60 industry leaders, researchers, and senior policymakers participated in the workshop on June 3, 2021.

GCC and EPRINC are collaborating on a joint effort to evaluate the role of North American natural gas as governments worldwide undertake efforts to accelerate the energy transition. Among the more important objectives of this joint effort are identifying recent trends and longer-term uncertainties in North American natural gas markets, government and industry initiatives to address GHG emissions and the role of natural gas both in energy markets in North America as well as in the world market as an important fuel source through LNG exports. EPRINC and GCC staff, experts, policymakers, and a cross-section of industry executives continued this discussion on the current state of the North American natural gas market and an assessment of the new regulatory environment.

The agenda from the event is here, and the presentations that were given at the workshop can be found here. A full recording of the workshop can be accessed here.

EPRINC’s Rafael Sandrea has published another paper, this one entitled “With Global Oil Demand on the Rebound, What About Supply?” The piece analyzes the impact of COVID-19 and the Texas Freeze on global oil demand and supply. Rafael also examines future oil supplies moving forward into 2021 by discussing trends in exploration and providing fresh comparative economics regarding oil supply vs. renewables.


Rafael’s paper can be found here.

Yin Zou has joined EPRINC as a Distinguished Fellow. She brings extensive knowledge and insights into U.S. and Chinese policies on energy, climate, and renewable energy. Educated in both the U.S. and China, Yin worked in Washington D.C. as a government affairs consultant for APCO Worldwide on clean energy, climate policy, trade, and investment issues. She later joined Tend, a California-based fintech company to successfully launch its mobile app in Asian emerging markets and became a serial entrepreneur passionate about bringing meaningful social change through technologies. Ms. Zou holds a dual M.A in International Relations from Johns Hopkins SAIS – Nanjing University and a Master in International Environmental Policy from American University’s School of International Service. She currently resides in New York City.

EPRINC has hosted the first virtual workshop in its new Energy Security Series series, entitled “Energy Security and the North American Oil & Gas Production Platform.” The recording of the workshop available here.

Initiatives to limit U.S. oil and gas production can be expected in the near future. Are these policy initiatives effective measures to accelerate the energy transition and do they conflict with long-standing measures to sustain American energy security?

EPRINC staff and fellows Ivan Sandrea, Jeff Kissel, Max Pyziur, Michael Lynch, Larry Goldstein, Carmine Difiglio, Glen Sweetnam, and Lucian Pugliaresi as well as Aaron Annabel from the Canadian Embassy, Trisha Curtis (EPRINC fellow, PetroNerds), and Fred Hutchison from LNG Allies provided presentations and commentary on this important topic. Their presentations can be found here. The agenda for the event can be found here.

Recent months have seen a growing crescendo of claims that a peak in oil demand may be near, or even be past. Pandemic-related changes in behavior such as working from home are predicted to persist after the emergency ends, and advances in technology are said to make oil-fueled vehicles increasingly obsolete. Michael Lynch and Ivan Sandrea have examined these arguments in a new study by the Energy Policy Research Foundation and found strong reasons for skepticism. People in post-pandemic China do not show major changes in their behavior and the increasing demand globally for SUVs implies consumers are not focused on reducing emissions. Further, battery electric vehicles perform significantly worse than internal combustion engines in key metrics, whereas the previous transition, from horses to cars, was due to major improvements in range, speed and carrying capacity, as well as convenience.

The primary findings:

  • Many of the forecasts are aspirational rather than predictive, that is, describing what needs to happen to achieve climate goals not what is likely to happen;
  • Forecasters too often presume transient market events like the pandemic will have permanent effects;
  • Consumer behavior generally shows little desire for sustainable practices;
  • The capability of electric vehicles is being exaggerated and their shortcomings downplayed; and
  • Past transitions do not suggest a peak and a decline in oil demand is likely.

The case for a near-term peak in oil demand is certainly more plausible than that of peak oil supply, but its popularity reflects a degree of exuberance that is not warranted by the data.

Click here to access the paper on this topic written by primary author Michael Lynch, Distinguished Fellow with EPRINC and the author of The Peak Oil Scare and the Coming Oil Flood (Praeger 2016), and Ivan Sandrea, trustee of EPRINC and the former CEO and founder of Sierra Oil and Gas.

EPRINC Fellow Emily Medina has published another piece on Mexican public policy and energy economics. This paper, entitled “The U.S.-Mexico Energy Relationship Going Forward,” examines the future of the relationship between the two countries focusing on bilateral energy integration, Mexico’s new nationalist policies, and the incoming Biden administration while keeping the geopolitics of the world in mind. The paper can be found here.

The piece has been published by Mexico Today, an English-language news service by the newspaper Reforma.

The Institute of Energy Economics Japan (IEEJ) and the Energy Policy Research Foundation, Inc. (EPRINC) jointly hosted a virtual workshop, “The Role of LNG in a Carbon-Constrained Market” on December 15, 2020, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm (Washington, D.C. – EST); December 16, 2020, 9:00 am – 11:00 am (Tokyo – JST).

This workshop was part of an ongoing cooperative program between IEEJ and EPRINC to explore the potential for LNG to meet rising energy demand and growing requirements for decarbonization in Asian markets. Japanese and U.S. energy research experts, senior representatives from U.S. and Japanese companies, officials from the Japanese Ministry of Economics, Trade, and Industry, and others came together for a discussion on policy and technology developments needed to address the challenges and opportunities for LNG as Asia’s growing energy consuming centers search for efforts to restrain carbon emissions and sustain economic growth.

The workshop agenda can be found here. The workshop was recorded and is accessible at this link using passcode: ?#?@s8cS

There were some excellent presentations given at the workshop, which can be downloaded here. In addition, EPRINC’s Max Pyziur provided all participants with a scene-setting presentation that is accessible here.

Offshore oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico extends from the United States into Mexico. Resources from U.S. offshore lands (federal and state) have played an active role in contributing to U.S. oil and gas production and today contributes 17% of total U.S. production. Although we do not yet know the details on U.S. policy on future oil and gas development in the U.S. Gulf, the incoming administration of President-elect Biden has announced it plans to curtail or halt oil and gas development in the U.S. lands in the Gulf.

The resources in the Gulf of Mexico are shared with Mexico and credible estimates indicate that 90% of these offshore oil and gas prospects remain unexplored. Mexico has been slow to develop their offshore prospects due to capital limitations from state oil and gas company, PEMEX, which held a monopoly on development until the passing of the 2013 energy reform laws. Although private companies have had some access to oil and gas development opportunities since the energy reforms, the new Mexican administration has largely halted private sector access to offshore opportunities.

The first bid rounds for deepwater oil and gas fields in the Perdido Fold Belt and Cuenca Salina were held in 2015 and demonstrated substantial interest among private oil and gas companies. Exploratory drilling by private companies on the Mexican side of the Gulf of Mexico increased, which further demonstrated Mexico’s favorable resource development potential. In the next decade, Mexico’s initial deepwater projects awarded to private companies are expected to bring new production to Mexico in the coming years, but the pace of future development will be determined by decisions of the Mexican government on whether to permit additional bid rounds.

Authors Rafael Sandrea and Peter Stark bring a wealth of experience and expertise in evaluating the resource potential of geologic basins worldwide. Their paper on the isoOIP model demonstrates how simple and inexpensive decision support tools can continue to contribute to cost effective development of the oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Institute of Energy Economics Japan (IEEJ) and the Energy Policy Research Foundation, Inc. (EPRINC) have jointly hosted a virtual workshop, “Coal in the Asian Power Market: A Discussion on the Potential for LNG and Decarbonization Technologies to Address Rising Carbon Emissions” on November 5, 2020.

This workshop was part of an ongoing cooperative program between IEEJ and EPRINC to explore the potential for LNG to meet rising energy demand and growing requirements for decarbonization in Asian markets.

This virtual workshop included presentations on future prospects for coal use in China, India, Japan, and other Asian countries. The workshop examined the potential for lowering carbon emissions through greater use of LNG and carbon capture technologies. Researchers from IEEJ, EPRINC, China, and industry executives participated in a timely discussion on this critical issue. The workshop was recorded is accessible here, (use passcode: +xn7.678). The agenda from the workshop is available here, and the presentations can be found here.

EPRINC is excited to announce the addition of Tristan Abbey to our team as a new EPRINC Distinguished Fellow. Tristan is President of Comarus Analytics LLC. Prior to its founding, he served for nearly a decade in senior policy roles at the Senate and the White House.

As a senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources from 2019 to 2020, Tristan developed and implemented Chairman Lisa Murkowski’s Strategic Energy Initiative. He also supported her efforts to address global energy market volatility at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the White House from 2017 to 2019, Tristan served as the National Security Council’s Director for Energy and Environment (also with the National Economic Council) and then as Director for Strategic Planning. His responsibilities included developing national energy strategies and overseeing policy development for critical minerals, advanced nuclear technology, and related trade and finance concerns, among other issues.

A more extensive bio for Tristan is available here.

Lucian Pugliaresi participated in the annual symposium of the Hellenic Association of Energy Economists.  This year’s program examined energy transitions and the symposium was held in a virtual format from Athens, Greece between September 30 to October 2, 2020.  He presented recent EPRINC findings on proposals to prohibit the use of  hydraulic fracturing in producing oil and gas from unconventional reserves.  His presentation, The Curious Idea to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing in the U.S.  can be found here.

EPRINC has hosted another virtual workshop, this one entitled “Keeping the Lights on in California: Some Simple Lessons for Sustaining Reliable Power Generation.” 

California has historically faced persistent challenges to the operation of its electric power complex. Commentators have long pointed out that a state with the fifth largest economy in the world, home to advanced technological breakthroughs and a well-educated population, should be able to figure out how to keep the lights on. The roots of the breakdown in California’s power system cannot be tied a single failure, but a perfect storm of operational setbacks, difficult environmental conditions, and technical constraints. Among the operational challenges have been an aggressive program of incorporating renewable and intermittent power generation into the utility system.
The workshop included a discussion of EPRINC’s forthcoming assessment of California power by EPRINC’s Max Pyziur, with accompanying commentary by Erik Rakhou, the former Dutch Utility Energy regulator; KK Sharma, former Director of Operations at India’s largest utility, NTPC; Ash Shastri, EPRINC Fellow and adviser to the European Gas Center; Carmine Difiglio, Professor, Sabanci University (Istanbul); and Ed Randolph, Director, California Public Utility Commission’s Office of Energy Policy (invited). The agenda for the event can be found here and the presentations for the event are here. The workshop recording is available “on demand” here.

The Institute of Energy Economics Japan (IEEJ) and the Energy Policy Research Foundation, Inc. (EPRINC) have jointly hosted a virtual workshop, “Future of Asian LNG: Finding a Path Forward” on September 17, 2020, at 7:30 -11:00 am EDT (20:30 – 24:00 pm JST).
U.S., Japanese, and international experts, policy makers, and industry executives provided presentations and a discussion on government initiatives and market developments of importance in sustaining a path forward to LNG growth in the Indo-Pacific market. The workshop highlighted critical issues facing the LNG industry. 
Hon. Takeshi Soda, Director, Oil & Gas Division, Agency for Natural Resources, METI and Hon. Steve Winberg, Assistant Secretary, Fossil Energy, U.S. DOE kicked off the workshop. As in recent years, the workshop will also inform the joint IEEJ-EPRINC recommendations to be presented at the Annual LNG Consumer Producer Conference on October 12, 2020 in Tokyo.

The agenda for the event can be found here, and the link to the presentations from the workshop is here.

On July 27, 2020, the Energy Policy Research Foundation and the Institute for Energy Research jointly hosted a virtual workshop on the recently adopted regulation setting fuel efficiency standards for passenger cars and light trucks. 

Current and former officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), representatives from the auto industry, EPRINC and IER staff, and a cross section of stakeholders discussed the new rule  and its broader implications for energy markets and the future of the U.S. auto industry. 

The video recording of the workshop can be accessed here, and the presentation from Heidi King is here and the one from Max Pyziur is here.


Get the latest news and updates on energy economics and policy issues.


Follow us on Twitter to get the latest updates from us in real-time.