The US as an Energy Exporter

Several days ago OPEC, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, announced a cut in production to raise the price of oil. This was big news because Saudi Arabia and others had kept the price low in an attempt to undercut the nascent American shale oil and gas industry. Well…that didn’t work.

In this article from Bloomberg, you can see how the United States could be positioned to become an energy superpower. But, they also lay out the various snags and pitfalls that could dim that outlook. This map from the article details the destinations thus far of America’s natural gas, in liquefied state.

Where US liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been sent
Where US liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been sent

Credit for the piece goes the Bloomberg graphics department.

The Price of Petrol

How much does a gallon of milk cost? That, of course, is one of the classic election questions asked of candidates to see how in touch they are with the common man. But the same can be understood by enquiring whether or not they know how much a gallon of petrol or gasoline costs. And Bloomberg asked that very same question of the United States relative to the rest of the world. And as it turns out, here in the States, fueling our automobiles is, broadly speaking, not as painful as it would be in other countries.

The piece includes the below dot plot, where different countries are plotted on the three different metrics and the dots are colour coded by the country’s geographic region. But as is usually the case with data on geographies, the question of geographic pattern arises. And so the same three metrics presented in the dot plot are also presented on a geographic map. Those three maps are toggled on/off by buttons above the map.

How the US ranks compared to the rest of the world
How the US ranks compared to the rest of the world

A really nice touch that makes the piece applicable to an audience broader than the United States is the three controls in the upper-right of the dot plot. They allow you to control the date, but more importantly the currency and the volume. For most of the world, petrol is priced in litres in local currencies. And the piece allows the user to switch between gallons and litres and from US dollars to the koruna of the Czech Republic.

Credit for the piece goes to Tom Randall, Alex McIntyre, and Jeremy Scott Diamond.

Your State’s Power Sources

By now you should all know that I am a sucker for small multiples. They are a great way of separating out noise and letting each object be seen for its own. You should also know that I am a sucker for things industrial, e.g. nuclear power. So when you put the two together like NPR did earlier this month, well, I am going to be a huge fan.

All 50 states
All 50 states

Credit for the piece goes to Alyson Hurt.

Where’s Your Power Coming From?

A few weeks back the White House announced some new plans for clean electricity. The Washington Post put together an interactive graphic looking at the sources for American power.

America's power sources
America’s power sources

Credit for the piece goes to John Muyskens, Dan Keating, and Samuel Granados.

The Coal Century

The other day I misread a poster on the road that “The Cool Century” for “The Coal Century”. That is the origin of today’s title. The origin of today’s piece, however, is Bloomberg, which looked at the impact of some new environmental regulations on the coal industry vis-a-vis dozens of coal power plants.

Coal plants
Coal plants

Basically, you have a map with plant size indicated by the dot size, and the type of plant by the colour of the dot. The line chart to the right shows total coal capacity. Overall, it’s a nice, clear, concise graphic. Two buttons give the user immediate access to the story: the pre-regulated environment—see what I did there?—and then then post-regulated one.

Credit for the piece goes to Eric Roston and Blacki Migliozzi.

Sex, Drugs, and Rock Oil

North Dakota’s economy has been booming because of shale oil. Most of that economic growth has been centred on what was the small city of Williston, North Dakota. Economic growth often leads to population growth, however, and that can at times lead to growth in less than wholesome economic activities. The National Journal took a look at the population growth in the area and what has been happening concurrently in a few metrics of the less wholesome sectors of the economy, i.e. drugs and prostitution. Turns out, they are both up.

Population growth in North Dakota
Population growth in North Dakota

Credit for the piece goes to Clare Foran and Stephanie Stamm.

Coal vs. the Great Barrier Reef

Your humble author is away this week. But the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is still here. For now. The Guardian takes a look at the growing threat to the World Heritage site from the coal industry in Queensland, Australia. The author takes you through the narrative in a chapter format, using charts and maps to illustrate the points in the brief bit of text. A really nice job altogether.

Major ports and their volume
Major ports and their volume

Credit for the piece goes to Nick Evershed.

Mapping Nuclear Reactors

Today’s piece is a map from the Economist. It looks at the state of nuclear energy across the world. Slovakia caught my eye because when I recently traveled across that country I glimpsed from my train the massive complex near (I think) Trnava. Apparently those are also some of the youngest reactors out there.

Map of reactors
Map of reactors

Credit for the piece goes to O.M. and L.P.

Oil Imports

Oil, sweet oil. We Americans love the stuff. Like too much of anything, though, that can lead to some problems. This post isn’t about that. But rather it’s about a New York Times graphic on how even though we are learning to check our sweet tooth, we are importing more oil from the Middle East relative to other oil exporters, like Mexico.

Oil imports
Oil imports

Oil.

Oil, sweet oil. How we depend upon you for modern civilisation. BP published a report on world energy that Craig Bloodworth visualised using Tableau.

Oil production
Oil production

The piece has three tabs; one is for production, another consumption, and a third for reserves. (The screenshot above is for production.) But when I look at each view I wonder whether all the data views are truly necessary?

In production for example, is a map of a few countries truly informative? The usual problem of Russia, Canada, the US, and China dominating the map simply because they are geographically large countries reappears. Furthermore the map projection does not particularly help the issue because it expands the area of Siberia and the Canadian arctic at the expense of regions near the Equator, i.e. the Middle East. That strikes me as counter-intuitive since some of the largest oil producers are actually located within the Middle East.

A map could very well be useful if it showed more precisely where oil is produced. Where in the vastness of Russia is oil being sucked out of the ground? Where in Saudia Arabia? In the US? Leave the numbers to the charts. They are far more useful in comparing those countries like Kuwait that are major producers but tiny geographies.

Lastly about the maps (and the charts), the colour is a bit confusing because nowhere that I have found in my quick exploration of the application does the piece specify what the colours mean. That would be quite useful.

Finally, about the data, the total amount of oil produced, but more importantly consumed, is useful and valuable data. But seeing that China is the second largest consumer after the US is a bit misleading. Per capita consumption would add nuance to the consumption view, because China is over three-times as large as the US in population. Consequently, the average Chinese is not a major consumer. The problem is more that there are so many more Chinese consumers than consumers in any other nation—except India.

A bit of a hit and miss piece. I think the organisation and the idea is there: compare and contrast producers and consumers of oil (and consumers of other energy forms). Alas the execution does not quite match the idea.

Credit for the piece goes to Craig Bloodworth, via the Guardian.