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Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation on the future prospect of renewable energy

“Because energy can be generated by technologies, using the sun and wind, rather than concentrated natural resources in the form of oil and gas, which is not ubiquitous in geographic terms, many countries will be able to reduce their vulnerabilities to price spikes and outright supply disruptions by pivoting to renewable energy. Moreover, the strategic importance of chokepoints – the Straits of Hormuz, or the Straits of Malacca for instance – will diminish as fossil fuels lose their grip.”

Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation

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Peak Oil Review – 28 Jan 2019

Oil prices continue to hover in the low $50s in the US and low $60s in London – about where they have been since early January. The main issue affecting prices remains the efficacy of the OPEC+ production cut vs. US shale oil production and the slowing Chinese economy. Last week a political upheaval occurred in Venezuela, raising the possibility that Caracas would no longer be able to export 500,000 b/d to the US or that its production might fall below its current 1 million b/d level. So far, the Venezuelan turmoil has not moved oil prices, but with the world’s major powers lining up for or against the Maduro government, prices seem likely to be affected.

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DeSmog Blog on the viability of the US shale oil industry

“The fracking industry has helped set new records for US oil production while continuing to lose huge amounts of money — and that was before the recent crash in oil prices. But plenty of people in the industry and media make it sound like a much different, and more profitable, story… The explanation is pretty simple: Shale companies are not counting many of their operating expenses in the “break-even” calculations. Convenient for them, but highly misleading about the economics of fracking because factoring in the costs of running one of these companies often leads those so-called profits from the black and into the red.”

Justin Mikulka, DeSmog Blog (1/19)

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Peak Oil Review – 21 Jan 2019

Oil prices continue to climb steadily closing up about $3-4 a barrel by the end of last week. Behind the move are concerns that US shale oil production this year may not be as strong as forecast; lower OPEC production; and reports that the US and China are making progress towards ending their trade war. New York futures closed at $53.80 on Friday, while London closed at $62.70. This leaves London’s Brent about $12 a barrel higher than it was at the end of December, but $22 lower than it was in September. These prices should make the OPEC exporters happier but may not be high enough to keep shale oil production increasing as fast as predicted.

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Reuters on the global automakers’ plans for the future of EVs

“Global automakers are planning an unprecedented level of spending to develop and procure batteries and electric vehicles over the next five to 10 years, with a significant portion of their budgets targeted at China… Automakers’ plans to spend at least $300 billion on EVs are driven largely by environmental concerns and government policy, and supported by rapid technological advances that have improved battery cost, range and charging time.”

Paul Lienert and Christine Chan, Reuters

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Peak Oil Review – 14 Jan 2019

Oil prices continued to climb last week and are now some $10 a barrel higher than they were just before Christmas when recent lows were set. Prices now have retraced about 30 percent of the $35 a barrel drop that took place between late September and late December. Part of the recent price correction likely is due to technical factors such as closing out long positions in the futures markets. The news that the Saudis will cut even more production than specified in their recent pledge in hopes of raising world prices to $80 a barrel was an important part of last week’s price jump. Hopes that the US and China would settle their trade dispute during on-going talks was also an important factor in the recent price jump.

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The Wall Street Journal on US shale industry’s financial woes

“Shale companies have attracted huge amounts of capital from Wall Street over the past decade. So far, investors have largely lost money. Since 2008, an index of US oil and gas companies has fallen 43%, while the S&P 500 index has more than doubled in that time, including dividends. The 29 companies in the Journal’s analysis have spent $112 billion more in cash than they generated from operations in the last 10 years, according to data from FactSet, a financial-information firm.”

Bradley Olson, Rebecca Elliott and Christopher M. Matthews, The Wall Street Journal (1/2/19)

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Peak Oil Review – 7 Jan 2019

Since hitting a recent low on Dec 22nd, oil prices have climbed by $5-6 a barrel as the markets tried to sort out where supply and demand are going. With US oil prices still below $50 a barrel, it is hard to imagine that the optimistic forecasts for US shale oil production will be reached in 2019. There are continuing indications that China’s economy is headed for a dip, but there are reports that US/China trade negotiations are making progress. The US sanctions on Iran seem to be hurting Tehran’s exports, and the OPEC+ production cut is slow getting off the ground.

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S&P Global Platts on the potential of ANWR’s prospective resources

“Some geologists harbor doubts about ANWR’s prospective resources. ‘I don’t see (in the refuge’s geology) what I hear in the political talk,’ about the refuge’s potential, said Richard Garrard, an Alaskan-based exploration geologist. said. Geologically, the region is an extension of the Brooks Range, which is to the south. ‘How many oil fields have been discovered in the Brooks Range? None.’”

From S&P Global Platts

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Peak Oil Review – 31 Dec 2018

It was a volatile week for oil prices with WTI falling on Monday to nearly $42 a barrel and London falling to $51. Oil surged on Wednesday, after posting on Christmas day its strongest daily gain in more than two years from the steep losses on Monday that pushed crude benchmarks to lows not seen since 2017. Both US and Brent crude rose about 8 percent, their largest one-day increase since Nov. 30, 2016, when OPEC signed a landmark agreement to cut production. The week closed out with oil at $45.33 a barrel in New York and $53.21 in London.

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Deputy director, State Energy and Environmental Impact Center, NYU School of Law on proposed seismic testing off the east US coast

[about proposed seismic testing off the east US coast] “Almost every single one of those states is pretty adamant about not wanting that activity off their shore. The administration is pushing through the industry agenda on expanded oil and gas leasing despite all evidence that other stakeholders have other viewpoints about the appropriateness and the scope of that activity.”

Elizabeth Klein, deputy director, State Energy and Environmental Impact Center, NYU School of Law

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Peak Oil Review – 24 Dec 2018

Oil prices fell by more than 11 percent last week to their lowest since mid-2017 with London futures closing at $53.82 and New York at $45.59. There is much debate as to whether the rapid fall in prices is due to oversupply or fears of a global economic recession slowing the demand for oil. Forecasts of rapidly growing US shale oil production next year that could offset much of the OPEC+ production cut and growing political chaos in Washington, London, Paris, and other world capitals is adding to concerns about the future.

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Peak Oil Review – 17 Dec 2018

Oil prices were volatile last week trading inside a narrow range of about $1.50 a barrel and climbing or falling in response to the news of the day. Reports of the OPEC production freeze, the Iran sanctions, or production slowdowns in Libya and Venezuela push prices up while news of economic problems and falling equity markets tend to push prices down. At week’s end, New York futures settled at $51.20, about where they have been since the $7 a barrel price in mid-November. London futures closed $9 higher at $60.28 which is about they have been since November 22nd.

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White House economic advisor on the cancellation of subsidies for EVs

“As a matter of our policy, we want to end all of those subsidies [for electric vehicles]. And by the way, other subsidies that were imposed during the Obama administration, we are ending, whether it’s for renewables and so forth…It’s just all going to end in the near future. I don’t know whether it will end in 2020 or 2021.”

Larry Kudlow, White House economic advisor

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Peak Oil Review – 10 Dec 2018

Oil prices surged briefly on Friday after the announcement of a 1.2 million b/d OPEC+ production cut; however, by the close NY futures were up only $1.61 to close at $52.61, and London was up about the same to close at $61.67. The bulk of the cut is to come from the Saudis and their Gulf Arab allies. Moscow is to cut production by 228,000 b/d but does not expect its cuts to start until spring, and the Iranians were exempted from the cut. Despite the announcement, oil prices were still down slightly for the week.

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US EIA on US oil reserves

“Total US oil reserves in 2017 exceeded a … 47-year-old record, highlighting the importance of crude oil development in shales and low permeability plays, mainly in the Southwest.”

US EIA

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Differential between Canada and the US oil prices

“In my 36 years in this [petroleum] business, I have never seen such a wide differential in sentiment between Canada and the US. I’ve never seen more frustration among our customers and our competitors and in our peer-group companies than right now.”

Kevin Neveu, chief executive officer of the oilfield-service company Precision Drilling Corp.

“The assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid…With continued growth in [greenhouse gas] emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century – more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many US states,”

The Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II, compiled through combined efforts of 13 US government agencies

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Peak Oil Review – 26 Nov 2018

Oil prices slid more than 6 percent on Friday to the lowest levels in more than a year. New York futures closed at $50.42, down almost $26 a barrel since early October, and London closed at $58.80, down more than $27. The reasons for the plunge, which some observers are calling excessive, are well known. Inventories continue to build as US shale oil production increases; there are signs of a weaker global economy ahead; Washington has granted six-month waivers for Iranian oil importers; Moscow is not interested in cutting production; and there are doubts that the Saudis will make a significant cut in production while under pressure from President Trump to keep up production. Trump’s support for Crown Prince bin Salman in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is likely to complicate decision-making in Riyadh, to say the least.

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Excerpt from “Thoughts on the Future of World Oil Production”

“It is likely that in the coming years world oil production will decline (at around 5 percent per year) and that LTO [light tight oil] will decline more sharply. This will come as a shock because it is contrary to the official forecasts, which see oil production rising up to 2040.”

Jean Laherrère, retired geologist-geophysicist involved in oil and gas exploration worldwide; from “Thoughts on the Future of World Oil Production,” 11/18

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Peak Oil Review – 19 Nov 2018

The $20 a barrel price plunge, which began in early October, continued last week with New York futures closing at $56.46 and London at $66.76. Behind the drop is weaker demand; Washington’s issuance of waivers that would allow Iran to keep exporting at least some of its production for the next six months; increasing production of US shale oil; and the rapid buildup of US crude inventories. The EIA reported last week that the US crude stockpile climbed by 10.3 million barrels during the week before last to 442.1 million barrels, the highest level since early December 2017. The EIA also reported that US crude production climbed by 100,000 b/d to 11.7 million b/d, the highest on record.

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US oil production data & Global warming trends

“US crude oil production reached 11.3 million barrels per day (b/d) in August 2018, up from 10.9 million b/d in July. This is the firded the Russian Ministry of Energy’s estimated August production of 11.2 million b/d, making the United States the leading crude oil producer in the world.”
US EIA monthly report

“We thought that we got away with not a lot of warming in both the ocean and the atmosphere for the amount of CO2 that we emitted. But we were wrong. The planet warmed more than we thought. It was hidden from us just because we didn’t sample it right. But it was there. It was in the ocean already.”
Laure Resplandy, Princeton University research team leader

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Peak Oil Review – 5 Nov 2018

The plunge in oil prices, which began in early October, continued last week with New York oil futures closing Friday at $63.14, down about $14 a barrel in the past month. London futures have followed a similar pattern falling from $86 to $72.83 on Friday. During September the threat of the renewed US sanctions on Iranian exports forced world prices into the high $80s with many predicting that we would soon see $100 oil again. During the past month, however, market sentiment changed as it appeared the sanctions might not be as effective as some hoped, the global oil production increase, higher prices and the brewing US-China trade war threaten demand in the coming years.

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The mirage of the US oil & gas industry

“To outward appearances, the US oil and gas industry is in the midst of a decade-long boom. [However] America’s fracking boom has been a world-class [financial] bust …. Even after two and a half years of rising oil prices and growing expectations for improved financial results, a review of 33 publicly traded oil and gas fracking companies shows the companies posting $3.9 billion in negative free cash flows through June.”

Report from Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, and the Sightline Institute

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