Updated National Energy and Petrochemical Map
Mapping and data support help by Paulina Hruskoci
We first released this map in February of 2020. In the year since, the world’s energy systems have experienced record changes. According to the International Energy Administration’s Global Energy Review 2021, global energy demand fell by 4% in 2020, the largest decline since World War II. Oil demand dropped significantly (by as much as 20% in April, 2020) as we stopped driving and flying.
Unlike all other fuels, renewable energy use actually increased 3% in 2020.
While global carbon dioxide emissions declined a record 5.8% in 2020, the Earth’s atmospheric CO2 levels reached a new peak at 419 parts per million – the highest concentration the planet has experienced in over four million years.
The world of publicly available energy datasets, meanwhile, changes at a slower pace, and not all of the datasets have been updated since we first made this map. The layers on the map (followed by facility count in parentheses) are listed below. We also include the date that the individual dataset was updated. FracTracker updated this map in April 2021 with datasets made by various public agencies throughout the past three years. We will continue to update the map on an annual basis with the most up-to-date data available.
National Energy and Petrochemical Map
This interactive map offers an extensive, though not exhaustive, view of current energy and petrochemical infrastructure in the US. View the map “Details” tab below in the top right corner to learn more and access the data, or click on the map to explore the dynamic version of this data. Data sources are also listed in Table 1 below. In order to turn layers on and off in the map, use the Layers dropdown menu. This tool is only available in Full Screen view.
- Offshore petroleum and gas production (166) – offshore drilling platforms that are large sources of greenhouse gasses (>25,000 MT CO2e/Year), and therefore included in the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. This dataset is from the 2019 reporting year, which is the most recent data available.
- Underground Coal Mines (145) – Underground coal mines that are large sources of greenhouse gasses (>25,000 MT CO2e/Year), and are therefore included in the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. This dataset is from the 2019 reporting year, which is the most recent data available.
Table 1. List of data sources for oil, gas, and petrochemical facilities in the US, compiled by FracTracker Alliance in April, 2021.
Read more about how this infrastructure relates to transportation, petrochemicals, and electricity in our previous article.
What’s new this year?
One of the biggest changes to this map was the natural gas compressor stations dataset. The number of compressors jumped 29% from 1,367 in 2019 to 1,768 in 2020. Note that while this is likely the most comprehensive national dataset, it is incomplete and still missing many facilities.
Map 1. Map of compressor stations and natural gas pipelines in the United States, with a limited selection in Canada. These are also shown on the interactive map linked above. Data from U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Compressor stations are large facilities built along a pipeline route that pressurize gas to keep it flowing through the pipeline. The increase in compressors goes hand in hand with an expansion of natural gas pipelines.
Electric Generating Power Plants
There are 9,943 plants in the electric generating power plant dataset. This dataset includes “all plants that are operating, on standby, or short- or long-term out of service with a combined nameplate capacity of 1 MW [megawatt] or more.” The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) notes that the exclusion of plants below 1 MW “may represent a significant portion of capacity for some technologies such as solar photovoltaic generation.”
If we break down the count of facilities by their primary source of energy, those that use solar energy as their primary source made up the biggest chunk (34%) followed by natural gas (18%), (which includes natural gas fired combined cycle, natural gas fired combustion turbine, natural gas internal combustion engine, natural gas steam turbine, and a category titled, “other natural gas”). In terms of megawatts of energy, natural gas produced the greatest amount of energy (43%), followed by coal (21%).
Map 2. Electric generating power plants. Note, this dataset is from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) “Monthly Update to Annual Electric Generator Report,” which is slightly different from the dataset used in the interactive map linked above. The nameplate capacities represented are the EIA’s preliminary estimates of capacity for the month of March, 2021.Data from EIA.
The retired and planned power plant datasets reveal the trajectory of electric power generation in the country (note these datasets are not included in our interactive national energy and petrochemical map, but are available to download in excel format, here).
Of the facilities that have been retired since 2002, 34% used natural gas technology, 28% used petroleum, and 14% used coal. Combined, these fossil fuel plants represent 93% of the megawatts of energy retired between 2002 and March, 2021.
Map 3. Retired utility-scale electric generator inventory, as of March 2021. These facilities are not included on the interactive map linked above.Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Looking forward to the facilities planned to come online over the next six years, just 15% of the facilities representing 30% of megawatt capacity use petroleum or natural gas technology. There are no coal plants planned. Meanwhile, 60% of the planned power plants use wind or solar technology, representing 58% of the planned energy capacity.
Map 4. Planned utility-scale electric generator inventory, as of March 2021. These facilities are not included on the interactive map linked above. Data from U.S. Energy Information Administration
It’s clear that the electric power sector is increasingly relying on renewable energy sources. Yet the oil and gas industry continues to plan new projects in power and other energy sectors, including LNG (liquefied natural gas) and oil export terminals to find markets abroad.
While the EIA’s LNG dataset includes just eight facilities, several more have been planned. Environmental Integrity Project’s database of new oil and gas projects shows 20 new LNG terminals, (with 14 of them in Louisiana and Texas).
Yet last year saw more hurdles for LNG exports, partially due to other countries committing to renewable energy. In the Fall of 2020, the French government stopped a contract to import LNG from NextDecade’s proposed Rio Grande LNG terminal in Texas. This has NextDecade and other export terminals seeking federal subsidies to implement carbon capture technology to greenwash their image. Yet this technology doesn’t stop the toxic burden these facilities impose on frontline communities, and it isn’t economically viable without much of a market for the carbon that’s been captured.
The petrochemical industry continues to exploit the public’s fear of contracting COVID-19 to push petroleum-based products like single-use plastic, despite health experts from around the world backing the safety of reusable items like masks and bags. While plastic resin production grew 0.9% in 2020, that’s actually less than the 1.2% growth the industry experienced in 2019.
Figure 1. Royal Dutch Shell Ethelyne Cracker Plant Construction in Beaver County, PA. Photo by Ted Auch, FracTracker Alliance, with aerial assistance by Lighthawk. June 2021.
Renewables have been hailed as the “success story of the COVID-19 era,” but they’re also crucial for preventing the next pandemic. Climate change is causing species to migrate to new habitats, thereby increasing the opportunities for pathogens to enter new hosts. Last year we learned how quickly we can adapt to new ways of life, and with cleaner energy technology readily available, our energy systems must adapt rapidly too.
Paulina Hruskoci is currently studying Geospatial Information Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. She plans to pursue a career in environmental policy advocacy.
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