Shale gas revolution stares down Russian hostilities

Ben Bernanke and his Jackson Hole speech may overshadow news coming from the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, yet it is in Russia that America’s new shale gas revolution is shaking things up.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke can make or break the oil market today. The market had been backing off expectations that Mr. Bernanke would signal QE3 at this historic gathering. And while the market has been downplaying those hopes, recent speeches by Mr. Bernanke seem to go against the expectations leading into the talk. I think we might see a signal that is a bit more of an aggressive policy as we move forward.

Mr. Bernanke’s job is on the line. If he sees the economy faltering it would increase the odds that Mitt Romney will become President. Of course if Mr. Romney is elected then Ben would no longer be Fed Chairman. Interesting decision don’t you think?

Power outages and flooding may slow Louisiana and other parts of the South that is trying to get back to normal. This is also true of the US energy industry. Phillips 66 said there was "some flooding" at the Alliance refinery in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said 94.99 percent of oil and 72.52 percent of natural gas production was disrupted by the hurricane in the Gulf.  Reuters News reported that companies including Royal Dutch Shell and Anadarko said they could begin restaffing and restarting shut-in offshore production platforms as early as Friday.  As of Thursday, 95 percent of oil production and 73 percent of natural gas production in the offshore Gulf of Mexico remained shut, U.S. government figures showed. Around 936,500 barrels per day (bpd), or 5.5 percent, of total U.S. refining capacity was still idle. It will likely take several days or a week to restore around 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of offshore oil output and 3.2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas production that is shut in, experts said. Refineries are also expected to restart gradually.

Bloomberg reports that Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Garyville refinery in Louisiana will stay at reduced rates until normal crude supply logistics return, Shane Pochard, a spokesman for the company. The refinery didn’t sustain significant damage from Hurricane Isaac, he said.

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