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.

CEO of Paris-based Total explaining why he isn’t expanding assets in the hot US shale oil market

By on 26 Jun 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“Shale oil is too expensive. Let’s concentrate on low-cost oil. Don’t tell me I need to invest in the highest technology barrels because low-cost oil is the answer to volatility and peak oil.”

Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of Paris-based Total, explaining why he isn’t expanding assets in the hot US shale oil market.

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Peak Oil Review – 26 June 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 26 June 2017

Oil prices continued to slide last week with Brent falling below $45 on Thursday and WTI falling below $43. Prices have now dropped by more than 20 percent since the start of the year, and Brent crude will likely post its worst first half since 1997. As normal of late, prices fell on increasing production in the US, Canada, Nigeria and Libya with little solid indication that the OPEC/NOPEC consortium is yet willing to make further production cuts.  While the sharp production gains in Libya and Nigeria are recoveries from geopolitical production outages, some are forecasting that the surge in US shale oil production could run on into 2018 provided oil prices remain high enough to support additional growth.

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Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance lead author on the unstoppable expansion of renewable electricity

By on 19 Jun 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“This year’s [New Energy Outlook] report suggests that the greening of the world’s electricity system is unstoppable, thanks to rapidly falling costs for solar and wind power, and a growing role for batteries, including those in electric vehicles, in balancing supply and demand.”

Seb Henbest, Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance lead author

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Peak Oil Review – 19 June 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 19 June 2017

In the last month, US oil prices have fallen from close to $52 a barrel to below $45. Partly due to the large exports of US crude which have been around 1 million b/d in recent weeks, London prices have been running only about $2 a barrel higher than the US. Last week a report from the IEA predicting that the oil glut would continue into 2018 or beyond, combined with an unexpected jump in US commercial petroleum stocks, to push oil prices down by $2 a barrel to touch a low of $44.50 on Thursday before a slight recovery on Friday.

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Bloomberg Analyst on Electric Vehicle Battery Cost and Energy Density

By on 12 Jun 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“As battery costs fall and their energy density increases, we could see cheaper battery-electric cars than their fuel-burning equivalents by 2030.”

Nikolas Soulopoulos, a London-based analyst with Bloomberg LP.

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Peak Oil Review – 12 June 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 12 June 2017

During the past month, there have been several important developments which could have a major impact on the course of oil prices and production in the next few years. First was the OPEC/NOPEC decision to extend the current 1.8 million b/d production cut for another 18 months despite increasing evidence that increasing US shale oil output and rebounding Libyan and Nigerian production are offsetting the production cut. Because of the timid nature of the OPEC decision, increasing stockpiles and higher oil production, the price of crude has fallen some 11-12 percent in the last three weeks leaving US futures below $46 and Brent below $48 a barrel.

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President of the League of Conservation Voters on litigation regarding Arctic and Atlantic permanent protections

By on 8 May 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“President Trump is trying to erase all the climate and environmental progress we’ve made. We aren’t about to go down without a fight, and by joining this litigation, we are signaling to Congress our resolute and growing commitment to defending the Arctic and Atlantic permanent protections and halting the expansion of risky offshore drilling.”

Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters

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Peak Oil Review – 8 May 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 8 May 2017

The price slump which began in early April continued last week with NY futures falling below $46 a barrel on Thursday, down from nearly $54 last month. Behind the move are fundamentals saying that a combination of higher US crude production and rebounding Libyan output are offsetting the 1.8 million b/d OPEC/NOPEC production cut. In the past week, several oil ministers supporting the production cut have issued reassuring statements as to how well the cut is being observed; that the cut likely to be extended until the end of the year; and that the 3rd quarter will see substantial progress in easing the oil glut. Outside analysts continue to say that deeper cuts and extending on into 2018 will be necessary to offset booming production in countries not subject to the cut.

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IEA’s executive director on the future of oil markets

By on 1 May 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“The key question for the future of the oil market is for how long can a surge in US shale supplies make up for the slow pace of growth elsewhere in the oil sector.”

–Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director

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Peak Oil Review – 1 May 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 1 May 2017

Oil prices fell again last week on concerns that the OPEC production cut will not be enough to offset increasing US shale oil production. The reopening of two Libyan oilfields which could bring Libyan production back to the vicinity of 700,000 b/d added to the pressure on oil prices. At week’s close, New York futures were below $50 a barrel with London a couple of dollars higher, both down about 8 percent from their April peak of $54-$55 a barrel.

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Arthur Berman (consulting geologist) on global oil inventories

By on 24 Apr 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“Global oil inventories are falling because of OPEC and non-OPEC production cuts, but the road to market balance will be long.”

–Arthur Berman, Consulting Geologist

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Peak Oil Review – 24 Apr 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 24 Apr 2017

Last week, oil prices underwent their biggest weekly decline in a month as the markets lost confidence in OPEC’s ability to reduce the global oil surplus in the near future. The move was supported by reports that a glut was developing in the physical oil market in the North Sea area as lower Asia purchases, increased shipments of US crude to the EU, and more supplies coming out of storage all served to drive down prices. At week’s end, US futures were once again trading below $50 a barrel and London’s Brent below $52.

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Head of analysis at Rystad Energy on new oil discoveries

By on 17 Apr 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“The shortcoming of oil replacement by the drill bit has been quite drastic … Discoveries are not keeping up with production.”

Per Magnus Nysveen, head of analysis, Rystad Energy. Last year, 10 billion barrels of oil were discovered, around one third of global consumption, including well-appraisal activity, said Nysveen. He added that supply could fall short by up to 2 million barrels per day within seven to eight years.

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Peak Oil Review – 17 Apr 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 17 Apr 2017

After climbing steadily since March 27th, oil prices stabilized at the $53-55 level late last week. As usual, prices got a boost from various oil minister’s comments about how well they were doing in meeting their production cut goals and how they are considering extending the cuts until the end of the year. The monthly OPEC report shows that the cartel’s production jumped by about 1.2 million b/d after production cuts were first seriously discussed last fall, and then fell about the same amount after cuts started in January. The net result was to leave OPEC’s production about where it was through most of 2016.

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Canadian Natural Resources Minister on the future of wind energy

By on 10 Apr 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“It’s clear that wind energy’s time has come. My message is a very simple one: our government is committed to addressing climate change, and we know that wind power will play a critical role in those efforts.”

Canadian Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.

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Peak Oil Review – 10 Apr 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 10 Apr 2017

After falling on Monday on the news that Libya was resuming production from its largest oilfield that was shut down the previous week, oil prices moved higher for the next three days on hopes that the OPEC production cut was having the desired effect. Some believe that oil traders have been too busy watching the well-publicized build in US crude stocks, while excess inventories in other parts of the world are shrinking away unnoticed. Futures prices, which were about $48 a barrel the US the week before last, climbed to over $51 a barrel by Thursday.

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President Trump & the founder and CEO of US’s largest coal company on the future of mining jobs in America

By on 3 Apr 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“My administration is putting an end to the war on coal…The miners are coming back.”

US President Donald Trump, as he signed the “energy independence” executive order

“I suggested that (Trump) temper his expectations. He can’t bring them back.”

Robert Murray, founder and CEO of Murray Energy, the biggest US coal company

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Peak Oil Review – 3 Apr 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 3 Apr 2017

Crude prices rebounded sharply last week erasing nearly half the $7-8 selloff that began in early March. The March price drop came on the consensus that increasing crude inventories and ever higher rig counts would offset the 1.8 million production cut that OPEC was trying to orchestrate. At the close Friday, New York futures were at $50.85, and London was at $53.83.

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Commodity Equity Business Unit Leader in EMEA at Goldman Sachs on Arctic Oil Exploration

By on 27 Mar 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“Overall the idea that we have to go into the Arctic to find new resources I think has been dispelled by the enormous cheap, easier to produce and quicker time-to-market resources in the Permian onshore US. We think there is almost no rationale for Arctic exploration. Immensely complex, expensive projects like the Arctic we think can move too high on the cost curve to be economically doable.”

Michele Della Vigna, commodity equity business unit leader in EMEA at Goldman Sachs

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Peak Oil Review – 27 Mar 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 27 Mar 2017

Last week oil prices fell for the third time in a month, closing in New York at just below $48 a barrel. Increasing US crude inventories remain the chief motivation for the price drop as many traders now see higher US production as largely offsetting the OPEC/NOPEC production cuts. OPEC and its allies met in Kuwait last week to consider the situation and to talk about extending the cuts until the end of the year. In the meantime, the US rig count continues to grow amid some doubts as to whether all the new drilling will result in a concomitant amount of production.

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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

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Peak Oil Review – 20 Mar 2017

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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