Helping America Navigate a New Energy Reality

Tom Whipple

About Tom

Tom Whipple is the editor of ASPO-USA’s two flagship publications, Peak Oil News and Peak Oil Review. Tom is a former senior analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Since retiring from the CIA, Tom has become a well-known researcher and writer on energy and oil issues. Tom writes a weekly column on peak oil for the Falls Church News, a daily newspaper based in northern Virginia. Tom holds degrees from Rice University and the London School of Economics.

Senior Research Geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey on the Smith Bay, Alaska oilfield

By on 20 Mar 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

–David Houseknecht, a senior research geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, says the Smith Bay discovery in Alaska seems to have incredible potential. Then he adds: “But it’s the last one you’d want to bet your retirement money on.” (3/15)

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Peak Oil Review – 20 Mar 2017

By on 20 Mar 2017 in Peak Oil Review with 0 Comments

After a quick drop of $3-4 a barrel the week before last, oil prices steadied last week as the markets contemplated just how effective the OPEC/NOPEC production freeze will be in the short term. Speculators had enthusiastically embraced the production freeze when it was announced late last year and drove open interest in futures to record highs. The cuts, however, did not come fast enough or be deep enough to offset increasing oil production from other countries and lower demand. As one important trader put it, “The OPEC cuts were good enough to prevent a repeat of the glut of last year, but it’s a different story if you want to have oil at $60 or $70.” For now, the physical oil market continues to indicate an oversupply situation.

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Quotes from CERAWeek

By on 13 Mar 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“I want the states to see the EPA as a friend, as a partner, and not an adversary. Regulators ought not to use their authority to pick winners and losers.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

U.S. crude oil output “could go pretty high. But it’s going to have to be done in a measured way, or else we kill the market.”

Harold Hamm, CEO Continental Resources

“As an industry, we’re not investing enough for supply growth to keep up with demand growth.” Decreased spending, particularly in the resource-rich (but expensive) offshore, may cause supply to plateau or decline as global demand is rising, Hess said. A supply deficit is possible as soon as three years, and within five, when the reductions in capital investments should begin to show up in falling offshore supply, Hess said. “We’re not investing enough to keep the offshore investment pipeline full.”

John Hess, CEO Hess oil

“People might have drilled [the Eagle Ford} up very fast in the last two to three years, and they had to because they were measured on multiples of growth and had to grow very quickly. They probably regret it because they learned so much more about how to complete these wells more efficiently today than even what we knew two or three years ago.”

Ryan Lance, CEO ConocoPhillips

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Peak Oil Review – 13 Mar 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 13 Mar 2017

Last week was the most active in many months as oil prices, widely believed to be stuck in a narrow trading range for the foreseeable future, plunged some 8 percent in the last three days of trading. The price decline was triggered by an unexpected build of 8.2 million barrels in US crude stocks along with growing concern about increases in the US oil rig count. The week was highlighted by the annual “CERAWeek” conference in Houston which was attended by oil ministers and CEOs of oil companies from around the world. Many took advantage of the meeting to express opinions or issue warnings about where the global oil industry was headed.

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Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com on why low oil prices will keep oil in the ground

By on 6 Mar 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“Keep it in the ground’ has been the mantra of environmental groups worried about climate change. But it could be low oil prices and the lack of competitiveness of Canada’s oil sands that keep those reserves in the ground.”

Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

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Peak Oil Review – 6 Mar 2017

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On Thursday last week NY oil prices fell to near the bottom of the $52.50-$54.50 trading range they have been stuck in since early January. On Friday a falling dollar pushed prices higher to close at $53.33 in New York and $55.22 in London. There was much discussion last week about the status of OPEC’s production cuts and how they were being achieved. Much of the cut seems to be coming from the Saudis whose production was down by 90,000 b/d during February to 9.78 million. Overall OPEC production, however, only fell by 65,000 b/d during February. Ecuador, Venezuela, Angola, the UAE, and Iraq are still well below their targets under the production cut agreement. The Saudis finished February with a production cut of 157 percent of their target which was enough to bring all of OPEC close to its goal. The non-OPEC exporters participating in the cuts seemed to have implemented around 66 percent of their targeted cut.

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Lead researcher in a Harvard battery project and a professor of materials and energy technologies on energy storage cost targets

By on 27 Feb 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“If you can get anywhere near the cost target [$100 per kilowatt-hour of energy storage] then you can change the world. It becomes cost effective to put storage batteries in so many places – this research puts us one step closer to reaching that target.”

Michael Aziz, lead researcher in a Harvard battery project and a professor of materials and energy technologies

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Peak Oil Review – 27 Feb 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 27 Feb 2017

Oil prices moved to the top of their trading range last week as many traders believe prices are about to move higher. Even though the EIA reported that US oil stocks rose the week before last by 600,000 barrels to an all-time high of 518 million barrels, some traders are saying that we have reached the end of the buildup in US crude stocks which has been going on for the last two months. A drop in US crude imports is being interpreted as the result of the OPEC production cut. Many are expecting that US crude inventories will continue to fall on lower imports and increased US crude exports, which are now up to circa 1.2 million b/d, the highest on record. The surge in exports of crude seems to be due to lower availability of OPEC crude in Asia, and the gap between Brent and US crude prices which have averaged $2.24 in recent trading.

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CEO of Graves & Co. on the impact of current prices on the state of the oil & gas sector

By on 20 Feb 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“There has been no recovery in offshore and international oil and gas activity with the price of crude in the $50 range … for companies with significant exposure, offshore and internationally, the downturn in the oil and gas industry is not over, and job cuts may continue.”

John Graves, CEO of Graves & Co.

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Peak Oil Review – 20 Feb 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 20 Feb 2017

Oil prices have moved little since they jumped from the mid-$40s to the mid-$50s in late November. Last week was no exception. OPEC hints about extending the price cuts beyond mid-year supported prices last week despite several indicators which suggested that the surplus may continue and it may be difficult to rebalance the markets in the short term.

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Carbon Tracker Initiative on solar energy vs. fossil fuel energy market share dynamics

By on 13 Feb 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“Fossil fuels may lose 10 percent of market share to PV and EVs within a single decade. This may not sound much but it can be the beginning of the end once demand starts to decline.”

Carbon Tracker Initiative

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Peak Oil Review – 13 Feb 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 13 Feb 2017

Oil prices rebounded last week as the IEA confirmed that the ten OPEC members obligated to cut oil production are making good progress and obtained 91 percent of their goal by the end of January. The agency also reported that OECD crude stocks fell by nearly 800,000 b/d in the 4th quarter of 2016 although stocks continued to grow in China and other emerging economies. If OPEC and the other production cutters can maintain this level of cuts for the next five months, the IEA says that global stockpiles should drop by about 600,000 b/d during the first half of this year. This was the kind of news that many oil speculators wanted to hear. Hedge fund bets on higher oil prices have surged in recent weeks as many markets participants say they are expecting higher oil prices later this year.

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Senior managing mirector at Evercore ISI on labor shortage of oilfield service companies

By on 6 Feb 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“Oilfield service companies have pressed fresh (green) blood into service amidst a vigorous ramp up in activity, and failure/HSE rates have already felt the negative impact. Not only is labor a bottleneck, it is shaping up to be the primary bottleneck in the early stages of the [North American] recovery…E&P’s will throw enough money at the North American labor problem to bring the sector back to equilibrium, sacrificing capital efficiency to hit production targets.”

James West, a senior managing director at Evercore ISI

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Peak Oil Review – 6 Feb 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 6 Feb 2017

With the advent of the Trump administration and Republican control of the Congress, the world oil situation seems likely to become more uncertain than usual. In the last two weeks, the new President has signed numerous executive orders that will have an impact on the oil industry in coming years. The President and the Republicans in Congress will soon have done everything they can to launch a new oil boom by reducing environmental and financial regulations; permitting whatever pipelines the oil industry wants to build; and opening federally-controlled property and offshore areas for drilling. Republicans have long held that America would be energy independent were it not for the restrictions unfairly placed on the industry. While these measures may eventually spur more drilling, for the time being, however, oil prices and the demand for oil will still determine investment decisions. Some are questioning whether the Keystone XL will be built in the near future given the relatively low oil prices and the shale oil boom that have become important since the pipeline was planned.

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John Kemp, Reuters energy columnist, on Trump administration’s pipeline approval policies

By on 30 Jan 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“The blunt reality for the Trump administration is that there is no way to make pipeline approvals conditional on the use of U.S. steel without undermining the goal of fair market access for U.S. exporters.”

John Kemp, Reuters energy columnist

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Peak Oil Review – 30 Jan 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 30 Jan 2017

Prices moved slightly higher last week as the markets continued to watch the decline in oil production by most OPEC members and a few other exporters interested in seeing oil move higher. The evidence continues to accumulate that progress is being made in achieving OPEC’s 1.8 million b/d cut. In addition to a number of OPEC luminaries who assured the world that the cuts are happening and that the markets would be balanced shortly, tanker-tracker Petro-Logistics said that its information indicates that OPEC will reduce its supply by 900,000 b/d in January. This number does not include 11 non-OPEC members that are also supposed to be cutting production 600,000 b/d. The CEO of Petro-Logistics which has been monitoring tanker movements for 30 years said this suggests “a high level of compliance thus far.”

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Paul Frankel, economist, on the nature of the petroleum industry

By on 23 Jan 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“The basic feature of the petroleum industry … that matters most is that it is not self-adjusting.” The industry has “an inherent tendency to extreme crises” and “hectic prosperity is followed all too swiftly by complete collapse.”

Paul Frankel, economist, “Essentials of Petroleum,” 1946 (from energy columnist John Kemp)

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Peak Oil Review – 23 Jan 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 23 Jan 2017

Three themes dominated the oil news last week. 1. Will OPEC with Russian help succeed in cutting production enough to rebalance the oil markets and move prices significantly higher? 2. Will the US oil industry rebound so vigorously as to offset the OPEC cuts? 3. And finally what will the be the impact of all the new energy policies the Trump administration is beginning to implement?

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President of American Petroleum Institute on the regulatory environment impacting the petroleum industry

By on 9 Jan 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“We must break from the recent past [and] re-examine the regulatory onslaught of the last few years that has proposed or imposed some 145 regulations and other executive actions on our industry, and instead work to implement smart energy regulations.”

Jack Gerard, President, American Petroleum Institute

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Peak Oil Review – 9 Jan 2017

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For the last month oil prices have been stuck in a trading range in New York of between $52 and $54 a barrel. In London, oil has been trading two or three dollars higher. After a 30 percent jump in the last six weeks of 2016 in response to the OPEC production freeze, prices have stabilized as the markets wait to see the degree of compliance with the pledged production cuts. It may take several months to establish a clear trend as so many nations are involved in the cut. While a few countries, particularly the US, publish oil production and inventory statistics weekly, others do a poor job of collecting statistics. A few release incorrect production numbers they know to be untrue for a variety of political reasons.

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California Governor Jerry Brown on California’s contribution to mitigating climate change

By on 2 Jan 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“California can make a significant contribution to advancing the cause of dealing with climate change, irrespective of what goes on in Washington. I wouldn’t underestimate California’s resolve if everything moves in this extreme climate denial direction. Yes, we will take action.”

California Governor Jerry Brown

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Peak Oil Review – 2 Jan 2017

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Most of the discussion last week focused on the year just past and what 2017 will bring. Oil prices barely moved during the holiday week closing out the year at $53.72 in New York and $56.82. During 2016, however, US futures closed up about 45 percent for the year and London about 52 percent. It was quite the year for the oil industry with prices ranging from $30 to $55 a barrel; the election of fossil-fuel-friendly Donald Trump to the US presidency; and the OPEC/Russia production cut agreement deemed responsible for the record price rebound during the year.

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Peak Oil Review – 26 Dec 2016

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For the last two weeks, oil prices have hovered around $53 a barrel in New York, and a couple of dollars higher in London. Optimism that an agreement among the major oil producers will actually lead to a 1.8 million b/d production cut during 2017 is being balanced off by a stronger dollar, the revival of Libyan and Nigerian oil production, and a steady increase in the US shale-oil rig count.

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Angus Rodger, Wood Mackenzie’s research director for upstream oil and gas

By on 26 Dec 2016 in quotes with 0 Comments

“If we stay (at $55 a barrel), the world’s biggest oil companies start to make money again. If we go back down to $50 (or lower) in 2017…then those companies are in the negative territory and they go back into survival mode where they have been in the last two years.”

Angus Rodger, Wood Mackenzie’s research director for upstream oil and gas

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Energy researcher for IHS Markit on incentives for electric vehicle adoption

By on 12 Dec 2016 in quotes with 0 Comments

“Significant advances in battery technology, financial support from governments, regulations and values of Millennials will be key factors leading to increases in electric vehicle adoption.”

Jim Burkhard, energy researcher for IHS Markit

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