Oil Supply Tightening While HB11 Technology Receives DOE Grant

Photo Credit: HB11 Energy

The United States, one of the world’s biggest importers of heavy-sour crude has realized a 14% decline in production since last year. The U.S. lost five rigs from last week’s count and the count fell by 1 unit, reaching 631 rigs working for the week ended Sept. 1, according to Baker Hughes data. The count is down 129 units from the 760 rigs working this time a year ago. This comes despite oil prices edging higher on Friday with U.S. West Texas Intermediate closing at $83.04, up from $82.89 a week before and a significant increase from $75.75 last month. Brent-WTI spread is currently at $4.95, a spread that may be inverted more often in the future due to the Russo-Ukraine War.

The International Energy Agency forecasted increasing global demand and tightening supplies, pushing prices into the seventh straight week of gains, the longest streak since 2022. OPEC and its allies, including Russia, agreed in April to widen crude oil production cuts to 3.66 million barrels per day (bpd) or 3.7% of global demand.

Another influence on the price of oil and it’s accompanying inflation are oil subsidies. According to the International Energy Agency, fossil fuel handouts hit a global high of $1 trillion in 2022 – the same year Big Oil pulled in a record $4 trillion of income. In the United States, by some estimates taxpayers pay about $20 billion dollars every year to the fossil fuel industry.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) awarded a grant to HB11 Energy as part of its Innovation Network for Fusion Energy (INFUSE) program with the objective, “to accelerate basic research to develop cost-effective, innovative fusion energy technologies in the private sector.” Hydrogen-boron 11 (HB11), also known as proton-boron, fusion reaction is a most promising candidate for large-scale energy production in a bid to curb the future use of climate-impacting fossil fuels.

As long as this isn’t another earmark and the funding is put to use, this could create a new energy market that is effectively more sustainable than the current fossil fuel-electric energy model. With TAE Technology’s first measurements of hydrogen-boron fusion in a magnetically confined fusion plasma earlier this year as well as their subsequent peer-reviewed paper published by the scientific journal, Nature Communications, it seems that cleaner and potentially more cost-effective energy sources could be on the horizon in the form of aneutronic HB11 Energy.

HB11 Energy, based in Australia, will have access to expertise from the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester, a partner of the National Ignition Facility. The research will focus on innovative hydrogen-boron fuel targets to develop clean and safe fusion energy.