National Petroleum Council
Origin and Operations

INTRODUCTION

The National Petroleum Council (NPC), a federally chartered and privately funded advisory committee, was established by the Secretary of the Interior in 1946 at the request of President Harry S. Truman. In 1977, the U.S. Department of Energy was established, and the NPC’s functions were transferred to the new Department. The purpose of the NPC is solely to advise, inform, and make recommendations to the Secretary of Energy and the entire Executive Branch with respect to any matter relating to oil and natural gas or to the oil and gas industries submitted to it or approved by the Secretary. The NPC does not concern itself with trade practices, nor does it engage in any of the usual trade association activities.

The NPC is chartered by the Secretary of Energy under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972. The Council membership of approximately 200 persons is selected and appointed by the Secretary of Energy (see “Council membership”). Individual members serve without compensation as representatives of their industry or associated interests as a whole.

In selecting the membership, special attention is given by the Secretary to assure a well-balanced representation from all segments of the oil and gas industries, all sections of the country, and from large and small companies. The Council also has members with interests outside of oil or gas operations, including representatives from academic, financial, research, Native American, and public interest organizations and institutions.

The advice of the NPC is transmitted to the Secretary in the form of reports approved by the Council and is rendered to the government as a public service. The cost of providing this service is borne by voluntary contributions from the Council members. None of these funds are paid to or received from the federal government. The NPC conducts studies in response to specific requests originating from or approved by the Secretary of Energy. The Council does, however, reserve the right to decline to undertake any study requested of it by the Secretary if it determines the subject matter to be inappropriate for Council consideration.

At the first meeting in each calendar year, the Council elects a Chair and Vice Chair, the chairs and members of the Agenda and the Appointment Committees, and the at-large members of the Cochairs’ Coordinating Committee. The function of the Agenda Committee is to review and make recommendations to the Council regarding requests from the Secretary of Energy for advice and information on specific subjects. The Appointment Committee advises the Chair of the Council in designating members of a committee to be responsible for conducting a particular study and developing and presenting a report to the Council for its consideration. Under the leadership of the NPC Chair and the Secretary of Energy, the Cochairs’ Coordinating Committee provides a flexible mechanism through which the leadership of the Council and the Department can jointly review the progress of ongoing studies and the industry resources allocated to them, as well as identify issues for possible future consideration by the Council.

ORIGIN OF THE NPC

The origin of the National Petroleum Council stems from the experience of government/industry cooperation during World War II. The importance of petroleum to the war effort was cited by President Roosevelt in appointing Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes as Petroleum Coordinator for Defense. Secretary Ickes in turn recognized the value of industry advice in the development of petroleum policies and appointed the Petroleum Industry War Council, whose charge was to:

...mobilize most effectively all resources and abilities of the petroleum industry to deal with the emergency conditions under which the industry must operate, and to provide a competent, responsible and representative body.

In May 1946, President Truman stated in a letter to the Secretary of the Interior that he had been impressed by the contribution made through government/industry cooperation to the success of the World War II petroleum program. He felt that it would be beneficial if this close relationship were to be continued and suggested that the Secretary of the Interior establish an industry organization to advise the Secretary on oil and natural gas matters. On June 18, 1946, the Secretary of the Interior established the National Petroleum Council as the peacetime successor to the Petroleum Industry War Council.


NPC STUDIES

Since its formation in 1946, the Council has prepared over 200 reports, which deal with virtually every aspect of oil and natural gas operations. NPC reports include: examinations of the ongoing and future operations and requirements of the U.S. oil and gas industries; statistical studies descriptive of these industries; delineations of the U.S. oil and gas resource base; and comprehensive analyses of the domestic energy supply/demand situation. On numerous occasions, the Council has provided advice on governmental response to emergency situations, both prospective and actual. Other reports have focused on environmental and energy conservation, technology, and legal issues. A list of reports of the Council since 1980 can be found here.

Current Activity

By letter dated November 8, 2021, Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm formally requested the National Petroleum Council to undertake “a study on the deployment of low and zero carbon hydrogen energy at scale through the entire value chain….”  Pursuant to the NPC Articles of Organization, the NPC approved conducting this study at its December 14, 2021, meeting. (The request letter is provided here.)

This study will examine at-scale deployment of hydrogen energy through the entire value chain, including production, storage, liquefaction, transportation, and end use, to determine the cost of hydrogen relative to alternatives, how to reduce this cost, and the carbon footprint benefit that would be delivered for each relevant sector. This study will focus on production and delivery pathways (both from fossil fuel and renewable sources), the potential impact on the power generation, industrial process, residential, commercial, and transportation sectors, and the needed infrastructure and storage requirements. Policy, regulatory, and technical barriers to the use of hydrogen will be identified and recommendations proposed to enable use at scale. Additional research and development requirements to lower costs and increase deployment of hydrogen in these key energy sectors will be a focus.

Recent Studies

In December 2019, the Council completed and transmitted to the Secretary two studies:  (1) an analysis of the U.S. oil and natural gas transportation infrastructure; and (2) carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS) technologies. Earlier in 2019, the Council approved a Supplemental Assessment to its 2015 Arctic Report. (A listing of NPC studies can be found here.)

Infrastructure

The U.S. energy landscape has undergone dramatic changes in the past decade. America’s vast energy resources and the infrastructure to deliver them to market are vital to the nation’s economy and energy security. Dynamic Delivery – America’s Evolving Oil and Natural Gas Transportation Infrastructure, in its analysis through 2040, finds that public and private investment in new and existing pipelines, ports, rail facilities, and inland waterways will be essential in connecting America’s abundant energy supplies with domestic and global demand. Project uncertainty caused by regulations and litigation are creating bottlenecks to energy delivery in some regions. Regulations that enable new technology will improve safety and environmental performance. Addressing climate change and creating greater regulatory certainty is critical to ensure cost-effective and reliable energy supplies for consumers. America’s vast energy resources and the infrastructure to deliver them to market are vital to the nation’s economy and energy security.

CCUS

Carbon capture, use, and storage is essential to meeting the dual challenge of providing affordable, reliable energy while addressing the risks of climate change at the lowest cost. The United States is uniquely positioned as the world leader in CCUS, with approximately 80 percent of the world’s CCUS capacity and substantial capability to drive widespread deployment in the United States and abroad.

Building on expertise and previous research, Meeting the Dual Challenge:  A Roadmap to At-Scale Deployment of Carbon Capture, Use, and Storage addresses the entire CCUS supply chain and recognizes that at-scale success requires economic and operational integration across industries, harmonized local/state/federal regulations, innovation and technology development, and broad public acceptance. The reportdetails the actions needed to deploy carbon capture technologies at scale in the United States, an essential climate mitigation technology identified in the majority of global energy outlooks.

Arctic

The Arctic Supplemental Assessment provides the Departments of Energy and the Interior with the Council’s updated perspective on regulatory policy that supports prudent development in the offshore Arctic. The Assessment focuses on identifying what has changed in the four key areas in the Secretary’s request and considering how those changes might impact the findings and recommendations in the Council’s 2015 report, Arctic Potential: Realizing the Promise of U.S. Arctic Oil and Gas Resources.


NPC STUDY PROCEDURES

The procedures currently governing the preparation of Council reports are based on guidelines set forth in the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 and its implementing regulations, the NPC Articles of Organization as amended June 11, 1980 (see “Articles of Organization”), and on operational experience derived since the Council’s inception in 1946.

A request for the Council to undertake a study must originate from or be approved by the Secretary of Energy and be in the form of an official request letter. Upon receipt, a request letter is reviewed by the Council’s Agenda Committee for recommendation as to whether the request is proper and advisable for Council consideration. This recommendation is then submitted to the Council, which decides whether to accept or decline the study request.

Study Group Establishment

After a study request has been approved by the Council, the NPC Chair, with the advice of the Appointment Committee and the approval of the Secretary of Energy, appoints a representative group of Council members to a temporary Study Committee. The designated committee is responsible for developing a proposed response for the Council’s consideration.

The Study Committee determines an organizational structure that will best fulfill its needs in completing the study. Depending upon the nature of the study request, a Study Committee is generally aided by a coordinating subcommittee or, in the case of a larger study, numerous additional working groups. A coordinating subcommittee assists in supervising and compiling the input of various single-purpose task groups, subgroups, or ad hoc groups. The members of a subcommittee and other working groups do not have to be Council members or affiliated with Council members’ organizations. The nucleus of a coordinating subcommittee is usually composed of the chairs of the task groups and the coordinating subcommittee’s subgroups.

The Chair of the Council establishes all NPC Study Committees and appoints their membership. The Secretary of Energy, or the designated representative of the Secretary, approves these actions and designates a full-time government official to serve as the government cochair of each Study Committee, subcommittee, and task group. Subgroups and ad hoc groups are less formal in structure and membership, and do not have formal government cochairs but often have government participants. Subcommittees, task groups, and other working groups are typically established by the parent Study Committee with the concurrence of the relevant government cochair.

Study Execution

Following a Study Committee’s organizational meeting, its coordinating subcommittee, task groups, and other work groups hold a series of meetings to develop, compile, and analyze the data and analyses requested in the study plan approved by the Committee. The data and analyses are documented in the form of working drafts or separate sections thereof and are assimilated into a comprehensive draft report at progressive levels of organization under the ongoing supervision of the coordinating subcommittee and/or Study Committee.

Study Approval

When a draft report is completed by a Study Committee, it is presented to the full Council for its consideration. The Council decides whether to reject, modify, or adopt the report. A draft report is not a “report of the National Petroleum Council” until its adoption by the Council in plenary session. Upon adoption, a report is formally transmitted to the Secretary of Energy by the Chair of the Council. Digital copies of all NPC reports are available to the public to view and download at no charge and printed copies may be ordered for purchase.

All Study Committees, subcommittees, and task groups are established in response to specific requests and are disbanded upon completion of their individual assignments, which typically include post-approval presentations of the report to interested parties.


MEETING PROCEDURES

National Petroleum Council and Study Committees

The National Petroleum Council meets in Washington, D.C., at least once a year and Study Committees meet as necessary and in locations convenient to the committee membership. The time, place, and agenda of each Council and Study Committee meeting are determined by its respective chair, with the concurrence of the Department of Energy.

To constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at a Council meeting, one-third of the membership must be present. One-half of the membership of a Study Committee must be in attendance in order to transact business at a meeting. Action at a Council or Study Committee meeting is taken by a majority of members in attendance. Council meetings are open to the public. Documents discussed or presented at a Council meeting and meeting minutes are available for inspection and duplication by members of the public at the NPC office, or electronically from DOE’s NPC webpage. The government representative in whose presence a Council or Committee meeting is conducted is authorized to adjourn a meeting whenever the representative considers adjournment to be in the public interest.

Study Subcommittees and Task Groups

Subcommittees and task groups meet at dates and locations as determined by the groups’ chairs with the concurrence of the Department of Energy. One-half of the membership of a subcommittee or task group must be in attendance in order to transact business at a meeting. Action at a meeting is taken by a majority of members in attendance. Records of meetings are maintained by the NPC. The government representative in whose presence a meeting is conducted is authorized to adjourn a meeting whenever the representative considers adjournment to be in the public interest.


NPC STAFF AND FINANCES

The NPC maintains a small staff in Washington, D.C., headed by an Executive Director. The function of this staff is to assist in the coordination of study efforts and to provide administrative and logistical support to the preparation and distribution of Council studies.

The Council’s operations are privately funded through the voluntary contributions of its members, based on a budget approved annually by the membership. These funds are used exclusively to cover the expenses of NPC meetings and the NPC office, including employee salaries and expenses, rent, printing, etc. None of these funds are paid to or received from the federal government.


NPC OFFICERS

Darren W. Woods, Chair
Alan S. Armstrong, Vice Chair
Marshall W. Nichols, Executive Director

Revised 5/11/22