David Fuller and Eoin Treacy's Comment of the Day
Category - Energy

    Musings From the Oil Patch July 15th 2020

    Thanks to a subscriber for this report by Allen Brooks for PPHB. This issue includes a comprehensive discussion on the viability of a hydrogen economy. Here is a section:

    The conclusion that comes from our examination of hydrogen is that without some major technological breakthrough that reduces the cost of producing it substantially, the economic hurdle will not be overcome.  That means the only way hydrogen could become an important energy source is with government intervention in the energy market and assigning a price to carbon, or subsidizing the hydrogen fuel.  At this point in time, as governments around the world struggle to reopen their economies and repair the financial damage done to their citizens and businesses by the response to the pandemic, it is difficult to see them embracing carbon prices, which raises energy costs for their people and companies.  This is why the strong push, especially in Europe, for tying net-zero carbon emission policies in government stimulus efforts to rebuild their economies following Covid-19.  We suggest energy executives, analysts and investors worry more about the debates over the economic rebuilding efforts than the short-term moves in oil prices, demand and supply.  The long-term future of the oil market will be impacted by the success of governments instituting carbon prices.

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    Skai revises targets for its liquid-hydrogen, long-range eVTOL

    This article by Loz Blain for NewAtlas may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    One challenge for anyone who wants to work with liquid hydrogen is that you need to keep it extremely cold to keep it in its liquid state. At atmospheric pressure levels, we're talking just 20.28 kelvins above absolute zero (−252.87 °C, or −423.17 °F).

    That temperature can rise a little if you're willing to pressurize as well as cool (using a cryogenic system running between 250 and 700 bar of pressure), but Gunter says that's not part of Skai's plans, as "even a moderately pressurized system has significant weight penalties."

    So, super-cooling it'll be, and while that entails extra energy losses in the liquefaction stage, the cooling equipment, the conversion back into gas for use in the fuel cell and in boil-off in the tank itself, the net result will still be a much longer range aircraft than anyone dealing with gaseous hydrogen – or certainly lithium batteries – will be able to deliver.

    It'll be interesting to see how Skai gets the job done, as really you've got to look to NASA and other space programs to find liquid hydrogen being used in serious volumes.

    "The good thing in all of this," says Gunter, "is the notable developments that occur in this space on an increasing basis. The efficiencies we’ve seen in fuel cells and the same the industry is seeing regarding H2 production all point to increasing effectiveness of any form of H2 as a future focused solution."

    "There's a number of naysayers about what we're doing with hydrogen," says Hanvey, "but we believe we've gone from the question to the possible, and it's now the probable. We know we can fly with hydrogen, and the question is just how quickly we can get it to the market. And based on our experience, we think we can get there a lot quicker than perhaps the market will give us credit for."

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    The Gold-Oil Ratio Revisited

    Thanks to a subscriber for this article from Goehring & Rozencwajg which may be of interest. Here is a section:

    However, looking only when the gold-oil ratio has exceeded 30:1 (i.e., oil is cheap relative to gold), crude has returned 32% on average over the next twelve months (over four times its long-term average), while gold has returned 4% on average. Oil was lower only 13% of the time (70% less often). On average, oil outperformed gold by 28% during these periods compared with 2% normally.

    At the other extreme, when the gold-oil ratio was less than 10:1 (i.e., oil was expensive relative to gold), crude lost 7% on average over the next twelve months and was negative nearly 60% of the time. Gold returned 18% on average during these periods, outperforming oil by 25%. Since 80% of all observations occur when the ratio is between 10 and 30 you should expect the relative returns of both gold and oil to be like their long-run averages and that is exactly what occurred. When the ratio was between 10 and 30, oil returned 5% on average in the following 12 months, and was lower 41% of the time while gold returned 4% and was lower 33% of the time, roughly in line with long-term averages.

    We last used this analysis in early 2016 to justify our investments in oil-related securities. At that point, the gold-oil ratio hit a then-record 47:1. We argued that oil prices were set to surge and invested in oil-weighted E&P securities as a result. Over the next 30-months, oil rallied by 191% from $26 per barrel to $76 per barrel by October 2018. Gold on the other hand fell by 4% over the same period. Oil stocks (as measured by the XLE ETF) advanced by 56%, well in excess of gold stocks (as measured by the GDX) which rose only 3% but lagging the S&P 500 which advanced 69%.

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    China Has Already Declared Cold War on the U.S

    This article by Niall Ferguson for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Yet the book that has done the most to educate me about how China views America and the world today is, as I said, not a political text, but a work of science fiction. "The Dark Forest" was Liu Cixin’s 2008 sequel to the hugely successful "Three-Body Problem." It would be hard to overstate Liu’s influence in contemporary China: He is revered by the Shenzhen and Hangzhou tech companies, and was officially endorsed as one of the faces of 21st-century Chinese creativity by none other than … Wang Huning.

    "The Dark Forest," which continues the story of the invasion of Earth by the ruthless and technologically superior Trisolarans, introduces Liu’s three axioms of “cosmic sociology.”

    First, “Survival is the primary need of civilization.” Second, “Civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant.” Third, “chains of suspicion” and the risk of a “technological explosion” in another civilization mean that in space there can only be the law of the jungle. In the words of the book’s hero, Luo Ji: The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost … trying to tread without sound … The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. If he finds other life — another hunter, an angel or a demon, a delicate infant or a tottering old man, a fairy or a demigod — there’s only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them.

    In this forest, hell is other people … any life that exposes its own existence will be swiftly wiped out. Kissinger is often thought of (in my view, wrongly) as the supreme American exponent of Realpolitik. But this is something much harsher than realism. This is intergalactic Darwinism.

    Of course, you may say, it’s just sci-fi. Yes, but "The Dark Forest" gives us an insight into something we think too little about: how Xi’s China thinks. It’s not up to us whether or not we have a Cold War with China, if China has already declared Cold War on us. 

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    Email of the day on hydrogen

    I loved your article but why don't you mention the rise of hydrogen and the use of green hydrogen as being a valuable alternative as an energy storage tool for the future (we are talking about 2040!)? It's also more logical as energy source for trucks as batteries alone are far too heavy...

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    Tesla China Plant Might Have Come to the Rescue Last Quarter

    This article by Dana Hull for Bloomberg may be of interest. Here is a section:

    “The lesson learned by now is that TSLA shares tend to ‘work’ when something new has launched,” Jeffrey Osborne, a Cowen Inc. analyst with the equivalent of a sell rating on the stock, said in a report Tuesday. “At this point both the Model Y and China built cars are ramping up.”

    Musk, 49, suggested to Tesla employees early this week that the company could manage to avoid a quarterly loss.

    “Breaking even is looking super tight,” the CEO wrote to staff in an email seen by Bloomberg. “Really makes a difference for every car you build and deliver. Please go all out to ensure victory!”

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    Chesapeake's Collapse Is Latest in Long Line of Shale Busts

    This article by David Wethe for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    More than 200 North American oil and gas producers, owing over $130 billion in debt, have filed for bankruptcy since the beginning of 2015, according to a May report from law firm Haynes & Boone. This month alone, seven oil and gas companies have gone under, tying December 2015 for the busiest on record after crude prices plunged amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

    The shale boom spearheaded by the likes of Chesapeake a decade ago was fueled by debt. Profitability and shareholder returns have been consistently disappointing, and investors had already grown wary of throwing more money into shale before this year’s oil crash. The rate of default on high-yield energy debt stood at 11%, Fitch Ratings said in a June 11 report, the highest level since April 2017.

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    Occidental, AB InBev Lead Debt-Laden Firms Buying Back Bonds

    This article by Molly Smith for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV are seeking to buy back bonds through separate tender offers launched Thursday. Both are targeting debt due in the next three years.

    Companies are seeking breathing room on debt payments as they contend with lower earnings amid the coronavirus outbreak, threatening to push leverage even higher. Credit raters are running out of patience: Occidental, already one of the largest fallen angels of this cycle, may be cut again by Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings, while AB InBev was recently downgraded by S&P with a negative outlook.

    Both companies largely amassed their massive debt loads by funding acquisitions. Much of Occidental’s nearly $40 billion of debt came from borrowing to help finance its takeover of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. last year, while AB InBev’s roughly $103 billion of obligations mostly stems from its purchase of SABMiller Plc in 2016.

    While some firms are looking to buy back debt outright, others are pursuing different liability management exercises to push out maturities. Rite Aid Corp. launched a $750 million exchange offer Thursday, while Macy’s Inc. initiated one earlier this week. They’re also trying to amend certain covenants through what are known as consent solicitations.

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    BP Writes Off Billions as Covid Redraws Rules of Oil Demand

    This article by Laura Hurst and Amanda Jordan for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    BP Plc will make the biggest writedown on the value of its business since the Deepwater Horizon disaster a decade ago, as the coronavirus pandemic hurts long-term oil demand and accelerates the shift to cleaner energy.

    In a dramatic revision that prompted questions about the affordability of its dividend, the British giant cut its estimates for oil and gas prices in the coming decades between 20% and 30%. It also expects the cost of carbon emissions to be more than twice as high as before.

    Under its new Chief Executive Officer Bernard Looney, BP has been quicker than many of its peers to plan for a low-carbon world. Yet moves toward a more sustainable future are bringing financial pain today, and investors are asking fundamental questions about the value of oil majors.

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    Email of the day - on carbon credits

    First of all, thanks for the excellent service, I have been a subscriber since 1987. One thing that confuses me is the obsession with carbon emission in the world. This has become a political issue, and media deny to debate it. Could you please elaborate a bit on this theme, and let me know what you rely on these days, where do you get your information on this matter, or is it simply follow the money?

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