Energy Industry Glossary (E-I)

Electric Power Industry: The privately, publicly, federally and cooperatively owned electric utilities of the United States taken as a whole. Does not include specialpurpose electric facilities.

Electric Power System: An individual electric power entity.

Electric Utility: A corporation, person, agency, authority or other legal entity or instrumentality that owns and/or operates facilities within the United States for the generation, transmission, distribution or sale of electric energy primarily for use by the public.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI): An accepted standard format for the exchange of data between various companies’ networks. EDI allows for the transfer of e-mail as well as orders, invoices and other files from one company to another.

EMEA: The region comprised of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Emission: The release or discharge of a substance into the environment. Generally refers to the release of gases or particulates into the air.

Energy: The capacity for doing work as measured by the capability of doing work (potential energy) or the conversion of this capability to motion (kinetic energy). Most of the world’s convertible energy comes from fossil fuels that are burned to produce heat that is then used as a transfer medium to mechanical or other means in order to accomplish tasks.

Energy Information Administration (EIA): An independent agency within the U.S. Department of Energy, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) develops surveys, collects energy data and does analytical and modeling analyses of energy issues.

Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR): Any enhancement of oil recovery methods, most typically involving flooding depleted reservoirs with water or gas in order to recover any remaining oil.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): An integrated information system that helps manage all aspects of a business, including accounting, ordering and human resources, typically across all locations of a major corporation or organization. ERP is considered to be a critical tool for management of large organizations. Suppliers of ERP tools include SAP and Oracle.

ERP: See “Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).”

Ethanol: A clear, colorless, flammable, oxygenated hydrocarbon, also called ethyl alcohol. In the U.S., it is used as a gasoline octane enhancer and oxygenate in a 10% blend called E10. Ethanol can be used in higher concentrations (such as an 85% blend called E85) in vehicles designed for its use. It is typically produced chemically from ethylene or biologically from fermentation of various sugars from carbohydrates found in agricultural crops and cellulose residues from crops or wood. Grain ethanol production is typically based on corn or sugarcane. Cellulosic ethanol production is based on agricultural waste, such as wheat stalks, that has been treated with enzymes to break the waste down into component sugars.

EU: See “European Union (EU).”

EU Competence: The jurisdiction in which the EU can take legal action.

European Community (EC): See “European Union (EU).”

European Union (EU): A consolidation of European countries (member states) functioning as one body to facilitate trade. Previously known as the European Community (EC), the EU expanded to include much of Eastern Europe in 2004, raising the total number of member states to 25. In 2002, the EU launched a unified currency, the Euro. See

Exempt Wholesale Generator (EWG): A non-utility electricity generator that is not a qualifying facility under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978.

Expansion-Gas Drive: A reservoir drive mechanism, also known as a volumetric drive, in which the initial production of a reservoir triggers a related reduction in pressure that, in turn, enables the gas to expand and produce energy sufficient to force the gas through surrounding rocks.

Exploration and Production (E&P): See “Upstream.”

Exploratory Well: A well drilled to find and produce oil and gas in an area previously considered unproductive, to find a new reservoir in a known field (i.e., one previously producing oil or gas in another reservoir) or to extend the limit of a known oil or gas reservoir.

Explosive Fracturing: A specific fracturing technique in which nitroglycerin is exploded at reservoir depth in order to create fracturing and stimulate production. This technique is also known as well shooting.

F.O.B. (Free On Board) Price: The price actually charged at the producing country’s port of loading. The reported price includes deductions for any rebates and discounts or additions of premiums where applicable and should be the actual price paid with no adjustment for credit terms.

Fast Reactor: An advanced technology nuclear reactor that uses a fast fission process utilizing fast neutrons that would split some of the U-258 atoms as well as transuranic isotopes. The goal is to use nuclear material more efficiently and safely in the production of nuclear energy.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC): A quasi-independent regulatory agency within the Department of Energy having jurisdiction over interstate electricity sales, wholesale electricity rates, hydro-electric licensing, natural gas pricing, oil pipeline rates and gas pipeline certification.

Federal Power Act: Regulates licensing of non-federal hydroelectric projects, as well as the interstate transmission of electrical energy and rates for its sale at wholesale in interstate commerce. It was enacted in 1920 and amended in 1935.

Federal Power Commission: The predecessor agency of the FERC, abolished when the Department of Energy was created.

Fishing: The process of retrieving a foreign object (such as a tool or pipe) from a well in order to restore normal functionality.

Fishing String: A length of connected hollow tubes used to lower an attached fishing tool to the bottom of a well.

Flash Steam Generation: The most common type of hydroelectric power generation technique. Flash steam describes a system where a high temperature geothermal steam source can be used to directly drive a turbine. Also see “Binary Cycle Generation.”

Flat Plate Pumped: A medium-temperature solar thermal collector that typically consists of a metal frame, glazing, absorbers (usually metal) and insulation and that uses a pump liquid as the heat-transfer medium. Its predominant use is in water heating applications.

Float Collar: A special one-way coupling device inserted just above the bottom of the casing. The collar contains a check valve that permits fluid to flow downward but not return upward, preventing drilling mud from entering the casing and avoiding backflow of cement.

Flow Cell Battery: A massive electricity storage device based on a series of modules. Each module contains a large number of fuel cells. The flow cell battery technology receives electricity from a generating or transmission source, conditions it into appropriate format via transformers and stores it in the fuel cell modules using sophisticated technology. On a large scale, a flow cell battery has the ability to store enough electricity to power a small city. In the U.S., a large flow cell battery installation can be found at the Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi. Leading flow cell technology companies include Regenesys Technologies in Swindon, England, and VRB Power Systems in Vancouver, Canada.

Formation Density Compensated Log (FDC): A standard porosity tool that uses gamma rays to log the characteristics of a typically uncased hole, composed of two sets of detectors to compensate for the presence of mud and borehole irregularities. Also called a gammagamma log.

Fossil Fuel: Any naturally occurring organic fuel, such as petroleum, coal or natural gas.

Frac: See “Fracturing.”

Frac Job: A hydraulic fracturing method that uses injected fluids to break open reservoir rock and stimulate flow. The fluid carries suspended propping agents (such as sand grains, aluminum pellet and glass beads) in order to keep the newly formed pathways open and permeable.

Fractionating: Separation of crude oil into various products by means of controlled heating and evaporation, according to the characteristic boiling point of each component.

Fracturing: A procedure in which a fluid is pumped into a reservoir rock with great force, which splits the rock apart. This is an attempt to increase the flow of oil or gas from a well.

Fuel Cell: An environmentally friendly electrochemical engine that generates electricity using hydrogen and oxygen as fuel, emitting only heat and water as byproducts.

Fumarole: A vent from which steam or gases issue; a geyser or spring that emits gases.

Fusion: See “Nuclear Fusion.”

Futures Contract: An agreement to buy or sell a specified number of shares of a particular stock or commodity in a designated future month, at a price agreed upon by both buyer and seller. Futures contracts are frequently traded on the futures market. They differ from options in that options offer the right to buy or sell, while futures contracts bind the buyer and seller to an actual transaction.

Gas Hydrates: Gas hydrates are solid particles of methane (which is normally found in gas form) and water molecules in a crystalline form. They are widely found in many parts of the world, including the U.S., South Korea, India and China, often offshore. Gas hydrates have immense potential as a source of energy and may possibly exist in much larger quantities than all other known forms of fossil fuels. Unfortunately, they are not stable except under high pressure. Gas hydrate reserves could be very expensive and difficult to develop as a commercial source of energy. Nonetheless, today's very high prices for oil and gas may eventually make them a viable energy source.

Gas Injection: A production enhancement technique in which natural gas is injected into oil reservoirs, thereby maintaining reservoir pressure and continuing the flow of oil to operating wells.

Gas Turbine: Typically consists of an axial-flow air compressor and one or more combustion chambers where liquid or gaseous fuel is burned. The hot gases are passed to the turbine, in which they expand to drive the generator and are then used to run the compressor.

Gas Turbine Plant: A plant in which the prime mover is a gas turbine.

Gas Well: A well completed for the production of natural gas from one or more gas zones or reservoirs. (Wells producing both crude oil and natural gas are classified as oil wells.)

Gasification: Any chemical or heat process used to convert a feedstock to a gaseous fuel.

Gasohol: A blend of finished motor gasoline containing alcohol (generally ethanol but sometimes methanol) at a concentration of 10% or less by volume. Data on gasohol that has at least 2.7% oxygen, by weight, and is intended for sale inside carbon monoxide non-attainment areas are included in data on oxygenated gasoline.

Gas-to-Liquids (GTL): A special process that converts natural gas into liquids that can be burnt as fuel. Major investments by ExxonMobil and others in the nation of Qatar, which contains massive natural gas reserves, will create an immense GTL plant capable of making up to 750,000 of GTL daily. The product will be GTL diesel, a very low emission alternative to standard diesel fuel.

GDP: See “Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

Generating Unit: Any combination of physically connected generators, reactors, boilers, combustion turbines or other prime movers operated together to produce electric power.

Generation (Electricity): The process of producing electric energy; also, the amount of electric energy produced, expressed in watt-hours (Wh).

Geophysicist: A professional who applies the principles of physics to the field of geology. Geophysicists are involved in exploration for oil, gas, coal, geothermal and other underground energy sources.

Geothermal Electric Power Generation: Electricity derived from heat found under the earth’s surface. Also see “Flash Steam Generation,” “Binary Cycle Generation” and “Hot Dry Rock Geothermal Energy Technology (HDR).”

Geothermal Plant: A plant in which the prime mover is a steam turbine. The turbine is driven either by steam produced from hot water or by natural steam that derives its energy from heat found in rocks or fluids at various depths beneath the surface of the earth. The energy is extracted by drilling and/or pumping.

Gigawatt: Equal to one billion watts of power. It is also equal to one million kilowatts or 1,000 megawatts.

Global Warming: An increase in the near-surface temperature of the Earth. Global warming has occurred in the distant past as the result of natural influences, but the term is most often used to refer to a theory that warming occurs as a result of increased use of hydrocarbon fuels by man. See “Climate Change (Greenhouse Effect).”

Globalization: The increased mobility of goods, services, labor, technology and capital throughout the world. Although globalization is not a new development, its pace has increased with the advent of new technologies, especially in the areas of telecommunications, finance and shipping.

Green Pricing: In the case of renewable electricity, green pricing represents a market solution to the various problems associated with regulatory valuation of the nonmarket benefits of renewables. Green pricing programs allow electricity customers to express their willingness to pay for renewable energy development through direct payments on their monthly utility bills.

Grid (The): In the U.S., the networks of local electric lines that businesses and consumers depend on every day are connected with and interdependent upon a national series of major lines collectively called “the grid.” The grid is divided into three major regions: the East, West and Texas regions. The regions are also known as “interconnects.” In total, the grid consists of about 200,000 miles of high-voltage backbone lines and millions of miles of smaller local lines.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP): The total value of a nation's output, income and expenditures produced with a nation's physical borders.

Gross National Product (GNP): A country's total output of goods and services from all forms of economic activity measured at market prices for one calendar year. It differs from Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in that GNP includes income from investments made in foreign nations.

Group of Eight (G8): The eight major industrial countries, including the United States, Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Russia and Canada, whose leaders meet at annual economic summits to coordinate economic policies. The group was formerly known as the G7, before Russia was admitted in June 2002.

Heat Pump: A year-round heating and air-conditioning system employing a refrigeration cycle.

High-Temperature Collector: A solar thermal collector designed to operate at a temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Hot Dry Rock Geothermal Energy Technology (HDR): A technique that drills holes into the ground until rock of a suitably high temperature is reached. Pipes are then installed in a closed loop. Water is pumped down one pipe, where it is heated to extraordinarily high temperatures, and then is pumped up the other pipes as steam. The resulting steam shoots up to the surface, which drives a turbine to power an electric generating plant. As the steam cools, it returns to a liquid state which is then is pumped back into the ground. The technology was developed by the Los Alamos National labs in New Mexico.

Hydraulic Fracturing: See “Frac Job.” Sometimes called hydrofracture.

Hydraulic Pump: An artificial lift method used to raise oil to the surface once reservoir pressure has diminished to the point where the well no longer produces by means of natural energy. This system employs a surface pump to inject power oil into the well, which in turn drives a pump connected to a sucker-rod pump at the bottom of the well.

Hydrocarbons: Organic compounds of hydrogen and carbon. Mixtures including various hydrocarbons include crude oil, natural gas, natural gas condensate and methane.

Hydroelectric Energy: The production of electricity from kinetic energy in flowing water.

Hydroelectric Plant: An electric generating plant in which the turbine generators are driven by falling water, typically located at a dam or major waterfall.

Hydroelectric Power Generation: Electricity generated by an electric power plant whose turbines are driven by falling water. It includes electric utility and industrial generation of hydroelectricity, unless otherwise specified. Generation is reported on a net basis, i.e., on the amount of electric energy generated after deducting the energy consumed by station auxiliaries and the losses in the transformers that are considered integral parts of the station.

ICE: Intercontinental Exchange. An electronic futures and commodities exchange headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, focused on energy markets.

IEEE: The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. The IEEE sets global technical standards and acts as an authority in technical areas including computer engineering, biomedical technology, telecommunications, electric power, aerospace and consumer electronics, among others.

Improved Oil Recovery: Any of the conventional methods of secondary recovery (in which water is injected into a reservoir in order to move remaining oil toward producing wells) or enhanced oil recovery methods that are used to optimize production from increasingly depleted reservoirs.

Independent (Oil Company): Any domestic oil company that is not one of the major international oil companies such as BP, ExxonMobil or Royal Dutch/Shell. It also refers to any U.S. oil company that is not part of the 18 to 20 largest integrated oil companies in the United States.

Independent Power Producer: A corporation, person, agency, authority or other legal entity or instrumentality that owns electric generating capacity and is a wholesale electric producer without a designated franchised service area.

Induction Log: Measures conductivity or resistivity by generating magnetic fields that in turn cause receiver coils to induce signals at low conductivities proportional to the surrounding formation. Induction logging is often combined with other measuring devices, and can safely be used in nonconductive borehole fluids that preclude the use of other logging techniques. It is utilized in uncased drilling sites.

Infrastructure: 1) The equipment that comprises a system. 2) Public-use assets such as roads, bridges, sewers and other assets necessary for public accommodation and utilities. 3) The underlying base of a system or network.

Initial Public Offering (IPO): A company's first effort to sell its stock to investors (the public). Investors in an uptrending market eagerly seek stocks offered in many IPOs because the stocks of newly public companies that seem to have great promise may appreciate very rapidly in price, reaping great profits for those who were able to get the stock at the first offering. In the United States, IPOs are regulated by the SEC (U.S. Securities Exchange Commission) and by the state-level regulatory agencies of the states in which the IPO shares are offered.

Interconnects: See “Grid (The).”

Investor-Owned Electric Utility: A class of utility that is investor-owned and organized as a tax-paying business.

Independent System Operator (ISO): One of many independent, nonprofit organizations created by many states in the U.S. during the deregulation of the electricity industry. Its function is to ensure that electric generating companies have equal access to the power grid. It may be replaced by larger Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs), which would each cover a major area of the U.S.

ISO: See “Independent System Operator (ISO).”

ISO 9000, 9001, 9002, 9003: Standards set by the International Organization for Standardization. ISO 9000, 9001, 9002 and 9003 are the highest quality certifications awarded to organizations that meet exacting standards in their operating practices and procedures.

IT-Enabled Services (ITES): The portion of the Information Technology industry focused on providing business services, such as call centers, insurance claims processing and medical records transcription, by utilizing the power of IT, especially the Internet. Most ITES functions are considered to be back-office procedures. Also, see “Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).”

ITES: See “IT-Enabled Services (ITES).”