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.

The Future of Self driving Vehicles

By on 13 Nov 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“There isn’t a viable alternative to fossil fuels on the horizon. We’re not buying into the long-term demand destruction for oil.”

 Alasdair McKinnon, portfolio manager at Scottish Investment Trust

“Vehicles of the future will no longer be driven by humans because in 15 to 20 years — at the latest — human-driven vehicles will be legislated off the highways. The tipping point will come when 20 to 30 percent of vehicles are fully autonomous. Countries will look at the accident statistics and figure out that human drivers are causing 99.9 percent of the accidents.”

Bob Lutz, former executive with major auto company

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Peak Oil Review – 13 Nov 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 13 Nov 2017

Oil prices leveled off last week with New York futures closing at $56.74, up more than $20 a barrel since June.  Brent closed about $7 higher at $63.52. As has become normal these days, multiple factors impacted the oil prices last week pulling the markets in both directions. While the arrest of over 200 important princes, ministers and industrial leaders in Saudi Arabia on charges of corruption early in the week roiled the markets for a few days, by the end of the week the markets were largely ignoring what could morph into a major Middle East crisis or even hostilities.

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Portfolio Manager for Century Management on the Future of US Shale Oil

By on 6 Nov 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“There’s a complacency that shale is going to continue to produce at the kind of volumes that we had in the past…If the world keeps believing we’ve got surplus oil as far as the eye can see—which I don’t believe—then the reality is going to smack everybody in the face. And it will be hard to catch up.”

Jim Brilliant, portfolio manager for Century Management

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Peak Oil Review – 6 Nov 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 6 Nov 2017

The price surge, which began in mid-September, continued last week with NY futures closing Friday at $55.64 and London at $62.07. The $6.50 spread is leading to ever higher US exports which are now above 2 million b/d. Crude prices are at their highest level in over two years. Behind the price surge has been the steady stream of hints from the Saudis and the Russians that they are ready to back an extension of the production freeze through 2018 at the November 30th meeting. Some are asking whether the major oil exporters will be willing to continue a production freeze if prices move much higher. There now is a solid perception among traders that the global crude stocks are declining and that demand is rising. This in addition to the OPEC hype is contributing to the price surge.

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Batteries & Offshore Oil Drilling in Gulf of Mexico

By on 30 Oct 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“There’s going to be a lot of excitement around batteries in the next five years. And I would say that the country will get blanketed with [battery] projects.”

Spencer Hanes, Duke Energy business development managing director

“In today’s low-price energy environment, providing the offshore industry access to the maximum amount of opportunities possible is part of our strategy to spur local and regional economic dynamism and job creation and a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy dominant.”

Ryan Zinke, US Secretary of the Interior, after announcing a record 77 million acres for lease in the Gulf of Mexico

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Peak Oil Review – 30 Oct 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 30 Oct 2017

London futures closed above $60 a barrel last week for the first time since 2015. New York futures are now about $6 a barrel lower than London, increasing the incentive for foreign refiners to buy and export more US oil.  The main impetus for the price surge on Friday was comments by Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman that he backs an extension of the OPEC production freeze until the end of next year. Coupled with the Prince’s statement were upbeat OPEC pronouncements about the increasing demand for its oil and the dubious proposition that compliance with the production cut was now at 120 percent of the agreed numbers. Beyond the hype, however, are real concerns that the Iraqi, Iranian, and Venezuelan situations could deteriorate and lead to lower exports.

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Analyst at FBR Capital Markets on the Future of Deepwater Oil

By on 23 Oct 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“Deepwater is going to be playing a much-reduced role on the global oil-supply stage relative to what the industry expected as recently as three years ago.”

Thomas Curran, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets in New York.

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Peak Oil Review – 23 Oct 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 23 Oct 2017

Oil prices were little changed last week with New York futures trading around $52 a barrel and London around $57. Numerous factors continue to affect oil prices: Baghdad’s seizure of the Kirkuk oil fields and the consequent reduction in exports; a stronger US dollar brought on by the prospect of a tax cut; a falling US oil-rig count; a large drop in US crude inventories due to the recent hurricanes and unprecedented exports; the brightening prospects for a nine-month extension of the OPEC production freeze; and finally a warning that the China’s economy may not be doing as well as many believe. When all these forces pulling in various directions were netted out, there was little change.

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Chief Executive at Vitol on the Prospects of US Oil Production

By on 16 Oct 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“I think the question, a little bit in the longer term is – is this the last big rise in US production?… If you look at the economics on most of the big Permian players, not many of them make a lot of money.”

Ian Taylor, chief executive at Vitol, which trades more than 7 percent of global oil.

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Peak Oil Review – 16 Oct 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 16 Oct 2017

Prices climbed last week with Brent up almost 3 percent to $57.17 a barrel and WTI up over 4 percent to close the week at $51.45. The major developments affecting prices was an unexpected jump in Chinese oil exports of 1 million b/d in September to 9 million and the announcement that the President would not certify Iranian compliance to the nuclear accord. Statements by OPEC and Russian officials concerning a possible extension of the production freeze and the growing concerns that there will be hostilities in the aftermath of the Kurdish independence vote also supported prices.

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Head of the IEA’s renewable energy division on China’s Solar PV industry

By on 9 Oct 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“The solar PV story is a Chinese story. China has been for a long time the leader in manufacturing. What’s new is the share in the market. This year, it was equivalent to the total installed capacity of PV in Germany.”

Paolo Frankl, head of the IEA’s renewable energy division

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Peak Oil Review – 9 Oct 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 9 Oct 2017

US crude futures fell to $49.23 on Friday for a weekly loss of nearly 5 percent – the first weekly drop in more than a month. Hurricane Nate struck the US Gulf Coast Saturday night forcing the temporary closure of some 70 percent of US offshore oil production. In comparison with other recent hurricanes, Nate was relatively weak, so the damage to oil production and refining should be minimal and production back to normal in a day or two.

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Director of unconventional resources for IHS on the profitability of the Permian Basin

By on 2 Oct 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“The Permian Basin is America’s super basin in terms of its oil and gas production history, and for operators, it presents a significant variety of stacked targets that are profitable at today’s oil prices.”

Prithiraj Chungkham, director of unconventional resources for IHS

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Peak Oil Review – 2 Oct 2017

By on 2 Oct 2017 in Peak Oil Review with 0 Comments

After climbing steadily for over a month, oil prices slid downwards about a dollar a barrel last week ending up circa $51.50 in New York and $56 in London. The summer price surge took oil to the highest seen in two years with New York futures climbing from $42 a barrel in late May to peak above $52 last week. Several factors sustained the summer price surge. OPEC and the IEA released reports forecasting that global consumption would be higher. The Kurd’s independence referendum which led to Turkey threatening to block Kurdish oil exports was another factor, as were the effects of the hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.

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White House National Security Adviser on North Korea

By on 25 Sep 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

After the most recent missile launch and after the UN imposed fuel supply sanctions on North Korea: “We’ve been kicking the can down the road, and we’re out of road.”

H.R. McMaster, White House national security adviser

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Peak Oil Review – 25 Sep 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 25 Sep 2017

Oil prices continued to climb last week with US futures closing at $50.66 and London at $56.90. The $6 spread between NY and London is mostly due to the aftermath of the US hurricanes which have resulted in the growth of US crude inventories while elsewhere they have declined. Market sentiment has changed in the last few weeks with many now convinced that oil prices will be moving higher due to the OPEC production cuts and strong demand for oil products brought on by the relatively low prices. The IEA just upgraded its demand growth estimate for 2017 to 1.6 million b/d. If growth like this continues, it will eat through the global surplus rather quickly.

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The Global LNG Price Dynamics

By on 18 Sep 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

[In commenting on India forcing ExxonMobil to renegotiate LNG prices] “This trend is overall a negative for sellers, as they are forced to provide more flexibility to buyers’ needs to maintain their markets. The risk of price renegotiations will become more acute over the next couple years as spot LNG prices remain depressed, even if oil-linked prices rise. The elephant in the room will be how negotiations play out with traditional markets in Japan and Korea, and especially the Chinese national oil companies.”

Saul Kavonic, analyst with Wood Mackenzie

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Peak Oil Review – 18 Sep 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 18 Sep 2017

Oil prices rose steadily last week with US crude futures briefly topping the psychological barrier of $50 a barrel and with London futures closing at $55.62. Most analysts are talking about higher prices ahead. The IEA’s monthly report says that the global oil supply contracted in the past month and that demand remains strong. These judgments came despite the US hurricanes that shut down over 25 percent of US refining capacity and took a good, but as yet unknown, bite out US demand in the Southeastern US and along the Gulf Coast.

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The US Delusion with respect to Energy Abundance

By on 11 Sep 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“…The US is deluding itself when it comes to energy abundance (generally) and oil (specifically). Yet that’s not what we hear from the cheerleaders in the industry or in our media. From them, we hear a silver-tongued narrative of coming riches — a narrative that contains some truth, some myth, and a lot of fantasy. It’s those last two parts — the myths and fantasies — that are going to seriously hurt many investors, as well cause a lot of extremely poor policy and investment decisions.”

Chris Martenson, commentator at www.peakprosperity.com, former investments manager

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Peak Oil Review – 11 Sep 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 11 Sep 2017

Oil prices rose some $3 a barrel for the first three days last week and then collapsed on Thursday and Friday as Beijing announced its plans to reduce the capacity of its small “teapot” refineries, and Hurricane Irma closed in on Florida reducing demand for oil products in the state. Recovery from the Texas hurricane, Harvey, continues with 8 of 20 refineries that were closed by the hurricane now back to normal operations. The ports of Corpus Christi and Houston are returning to normal, and several other refineries report they will be back in operation in the next week or two. Gasoline prices in the US are starting to retreat from storm-induced spikes as refineries and pipelines return to normal. The unusually large crude and product reserves in stockpiles have helped cushion price increases.

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NAFTA and Energy Trade Across North American Borders

By on 4 Sep 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“Any changes that disrupt energy trade across our North American borders, reduce investment protection or revert to high tariffs and trade barriers that preceded NAFTA could put at risk tens of millions of jobs.”

From top oil and gas trade groups from the US, Canada. and Mexico, in a joint position paper released last month prior to new NAFTA-related talks.

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Peak Oil Review – 4 Sep 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 4 Sep 2017

As the severe flooding spread further east last week, closing down numerous refineries and causing widespread devastation, it is becoming apparent that it will be several weeks before the full impact on the US oil industry and indeed global oil markets can be assessed. At one point last week the hurricane shut down a quarter of US refining capacity, some 4.0-4.4 million b/d, but oil production outages mostly from Gulf production came to less than 1 million b/d. With a lot of oil going into storage and refinery demand well below normal, US oil prices have moved very little in the past week, while Brent has remained stronger in anticipation that Europe will be called on to replace the missing US barrels in the next few weeks.

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Drilling off the Atlantic Coast

By on 28 Aug 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“It will likely be years before the oil and gas industry can start drilling off the Atlantic coast, even in the best-case scenario. But even then, it is unclear if there will be any interest. The Atlantic has not been explored very much, and as a result, the exact nature of the oil and gas reserves in place is unknown. That likely means that development costs will be high. If oil prices fail to rise much from current levels, it is not at all clear that the Atlantic will be very competitive.”

Nick Cunningham, Oilprice.com

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Peak Oil Review – 28 Aug 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 28 Aug 2017

It likely will take several weeks to assess the impact that Hurricane Harvey will have on the US oil industry.  As of Monday morning, the storm is still dumping large amounts of rain on Houston and its refineries. Weather forecasts are predicting that the storm will continue to cause heavy flooding along the Gulf Coast and will move further east, possibly closing or damaging additional oil production facilities in Louisiana.

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The Correlation between Interest Rates and Oil Prices

By on 21 Aug 2017 in quotes with 0 Comments

“When interest rates fall, this tends to allow oil prices to rise, and thus allows increased production. This postpones the Peak Oil crisis, but makes the ultimate crisis worse…Falling interest rates between 1981 and 2014 are one of the things that allowed Peak Oil to be postponed for many years…. Peak Economy is likely not very far away. We do not need to encourage it, by raising interest rates and selling securities held by the Federal Reserve. We badly need more people to understand the connection between interest rates and oil prices, and how important it is that interest rates not rise.”

Gail Tverberg, actuary and commentator (8/16)

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