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

    US to create nationwide network of EV charging stations

    This article by John Anderson for Gizmag may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    The US government has announced "an unprecedented set of actions" to pump up the country's plug-in electric vehicle market, including US$4.5 billion in loan guarantees to create a nationwide network of commercial scale and fast charging stations. The initiative to push for greater electric car adoption calls for a collaboration between federal and state agencies, utilities, major automakers and other groups.

    The initiative will identify zero emission and alternative fuel corridors across the country, to determine the best locations to put in fast charging stations, as part of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

    As part of a partnership between the US departments of energy and transportation, a 2020 vision for a national fast charging network will be developed, with potential longer-term innovations that include up to 350 kW of direct current fast charging. According to the administration, a 350 kW DC system could charge a 200-mile-range battery in less than 10 minutes. For comparison, Tesla just boosted some of its Superchargers' power capacity to 145 kW, which is claimed the fastest currently available.

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    Fracklog in the Biggest U.S. Oil Field May All But Disappear

    This article by Ryan Collins and Meenal Vamburkar for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Crude in the $40- to $50-a-barrel range may wipe out most of the fracklog in Texas’s Permian Basin and as much as 70 percent of the inventory in its Eagle Ford play by the end of 2017, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Andrew Cosgrove. While bringing them online is the cheapest way of taking advantage of higher prices, the wave of new supply also threatens to kill the fragile recovery that oil and gas markets have seen so far this year.

    “We think that by the end of the third quarter, beginning of the fourth quarter, the bullish catalyst of falling U.S. production will be all but gone,” Cosgrove said in an interview Thursday. “You’ll start to see U.S. production flat lining.”

    Drillers that expanded operations in U.S. shale fields found that sidelining wells was the easiest way to cut costs when oil and gas prices plunged. Since then, these wells have been “just sitting around, basically waiting for a better price to come along,” said Het Shah, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

    U.S. oil producers extended the biggest shale drilling revival since last summer as rigs targeting oil and gas in the U.S. rose by 7 to 447 last week, according to Baker Hughes Inc. Dave Lesar, chief executive officer of Halliburton Co., the world’s largest provider of hydraulic-fracturing work, said Wednesday that the market in North America has turned and that he expects a “modest uptick” in drilling in the second half of the year.

     

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    Started from the Bottom Now We're Here

    Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Clarus Securities. Here is a section: 

    POSITIONING FOR BETTER PRICES: We are of the opinion that we have seen the worst of both the crude oil and natural gas markets and that prices should further improve as we enter 2017. We are currently forecasting ~US$50/bbl WTI for H2/16, which is a level where most producers fail to grow on a per share basis. In our updated growth tracker, we now expect average production per share to decline by 8% (-12% growth on a median basis); this compares to our estimates of -3% (median -8%) and 5% (median -3%) during Q2/16 and Q1/16, respectively. The decline in per share growth has been a result of dispositions to reduce debt, equity financings without concurrent M&A, or some combination thereof. Ultimately, only a few select companies are able to generate consistent per share growth. Most are natural gas operators but some oil-weighted names, chiefly RRX and SPE, continue to grow on a per share basis. 

    IMPLIED OIL PRICES: Despite the ~US$5/bbl pullback in WTI prices, there has not been panic selling of the equities. This benign response is attributed to the belief that the worst is behind us and that any weakness in oil prices will be short lived. However, with equities not pulling back, it is important to estimate the implied oil price by name. We looked at each company’s historical multiple relative to its current trading level in order to back out the oil price needed. Based on our analysis, very few names are pricing in US$50/bbl oil, with most between US$55/bbl and US$65/bbl. Companies with cheaper implied pricing generally possessed higher than average debt, which weighed on valuation. 

    IMPLIED GAS PRICES: Using the same methodology with the gas weighted names results in implied prices mostly ranging between $2.25/mcf to $3.50/mcf. The valuation for the gas names is generally a bit more difficult to assess because some producers are promising very high rates of growth which may be difficult to achieve (versus oil producers, where growth profiles are much lower and more manageable). Regardless, we see some opportunities for investors who are bullish on natural gas going into H2/16.

     

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    TerraForm Global Rises amid Talks with SunEdison to Sell Stake

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

    TerraForm Global and SunEdison are in talks regarding “a jointly managed sales process and accompanying protocol for managing the marketing process,” according to a presentation posted on TerraForm Global’s website Tuesday. SunEdison is currently involved in the biggest ever sale of clean energy assets after filing for bankruptcy protection in April with $16.1 billion in liabilities. It has not announced a process for selling its controlling stake in TerraForm Global or its sister yieldco TerraForm Power Inc.

    TerraForm Global, a yield company formed by SunEdison to buy clean power plants built by SunEdison outside of the U.S., owns 917 megawatts of solar and wind energy plants, mostly in southeast Asia and South America. The company had revenue of as much as $52 million in the first quarter, according to the presentation.

    It also reported preliminary losses of as much as $350 million for the second half of last year, and a preliminary loss of as much as $8 million for the first quarter of this year.

    TerraForm Global has not filed results since the third quarter because it relies on SunEdison for some accounting systems, and the parent company’s results are also delinquent.

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    US shale is lowest cost oil prospect

    Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Ed Crooks from the Financial Times which may be of interest. Here is a section: 

    US shale regions that two years ago were in the middle of the cost curve for future oil supplies are now down towards the lower end.

    Investments in the Eagle Ford shale of south Texas on average need a Brent crude price of $48 a barrel to break even, on Wood Mackenzie’s calculations, while projects in the Wolfcamp formation in the Permian Basin in west Texas need $39.

    “There are more opportunities to invest in the US, and that’s where the investment will take place,” said Mr Flowers.

    “If your investment options are in deep water, you’ve got quite a task on your hands. You might be asking: ‘Should we be getting into tight [shale] oil?’”

    Brent was trading at $47.59 per barrel on Wednesday.

    US companies that have shale oil reserves, including Chevron and ExxonMobil, have stressed the flexibility of those assets, which are developed with many wells costing a few million dollars each, rather than the multibillion dollar projects often required for offshore production.

    On Wood Mackenzie’s calculations, Brazil’s deepwater oilfields are so large that some will be commercially viable, but higher cost regions could struggle to attract investment.

    The number of large projects being given the go ahead by oil and gas companies averaged 40 a year between 2007 and 2013 but dropped to just eight last year, according to Angus Rodger, also of Wood Mackenzie. 

     

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    Samsung in Talks With BYD to Buy Stake in Electric-Car Maker

    This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

    BYD said Samsung has been actively pushing forward talks about buying its shares in a private placement. Talks are still underway, the Chinese company said, denying a report by the Korea Economic Daily that an agreement was reached to acquire a 4 percent stake.

    Samsung is pursuing the investment after its affiliate was among foreign battery makers left off a list of suppliers approved by China, where sales of electric vehicles are surging and the government has sped up construction of charging points.

    The talks with BYD also add to the global trend of technology companies and automakers collaborating as car buyers increasingly demand more advanced powertrains and features that improve connectivity and safety.

    “It puts Samsung into the electric-vehicle subsystem supply chain for a key Chinese electric vehicle and battery manufacturer,” said Bill Russo, a Shanghai-based managing director at Gao Feng Advisory Co. “BYD gets a technology innovation pipeline partner with a reputable brand.”

     

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    Oil Tumbles After U.S. Fuel Stockpiles Unexpectedly Increase

    This article by Mark Shenk for Bloomberg highlights the nuanced picture evident in the crude oil market. Here is a section: 

    U.S. gasoline demand dropped 0.9 percent to 9.67 million barrels a day last week as refiners produced 10.2 million barrels a day of gasoline a day.

    "The gasoline data is very bearish," said Thomas Finlon, director of Energy Analytics Group LLC in Wellington, Florida.

    "Gasoline production is outstripping demand by more than 500,000 barrels a day." Stockpiles of distillate fuel, a category that includes diesel and heating oil, surged 4.06 million barrels, the most since January.

    Gasoline futures for August delivery dropped 4.2 percent to $1.37 a gallon. August diesel tumbled 5.2 percent to $1.3865 after earlier touching $1.3782, a two-month low.
    Seasonal Highs

    U.S. crude supplies fell 2.55 million barrels to 521.8 million last week, EIA data show. Inventories remain at the highest seasonal level in at least a decade. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a 3 million barrel decline. The industry-funded American Petroleum Institute said stockpiles climbed 2.2 million barrels last week.

    "Crude supplies are down a little, but it doesn’t change the overall picture," Finlon said. "They remain at historic highs for this time of the year."

     

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    Putin's Military Buildup in the Baltic Stokes Invasion Fears

    This article by Henry Mayer may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

    “NATO could not have militarily prevented a determined Soviet effort to overrun West Berlin, nor can it militarily prevent a determined Russian effort to overrun the Baltic states. But if the Soviets had overrun West Berlin, that would have meant war with NATO,” said Thomas Graham, a senior White House aide at the time the three countries joined the alliance more than a decade ago. “In theory, the same thing should hold true if the Russians made an effort to overrun any Baltic state.”

    To help dispel doubts about its commitment, NATO this week will approve plans to deploy four battalions to rotate through the region. But though bigger than what the military bloc has ever placed there before, the units will still be dwarfed by Russia’s forces on the other side of the border.

    The Kremlin, which is spending 20 trillion rubles (about $313 billion) on an ambitious defense upgrade through 2020, argues that it’s just responding to NATO’s encroachment toward Russian borders. In May, Russia announced plans to put two new divisions in the Western region and another in the south. That could be about 30,000 troops, compared to 4,000 in NATO’s plan.

     

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    What Really Drives White Metals Prices

    Thanks to a subscriber for this report from ETF securities which may be of interest. Here is a section:

    Silver supply drivers
    While overall silver stocks are high globally, over the last few years silver has experienced what is known as a “supply deficit,” as annual production has been less than the demand for the metal, gradually eating away at current stocks. What many investors may not realize is that only 25% of silver production is derived from silver mines; the rest—roughly 75%—is a byproduct of mining for other metals, most notably lead, zinc, copper, and gold. As of year-end 2015, as mining capital expenditures for these other metals has been scaled back in response to relatively low prices, silver production has correspondingly fallen.

    Silver demand drivers
    Although it may not be the first thing that comes to investors’ minds when they think of silver, industrial applications are a significant demand driver, accounting for more than half of the precious metal’s usage worldwide. Silver’s unique characteristics include its outstanding thermal and electrical conductivity, along with its ductility, malleability, optical reflectivity, and antibacterial properties. These features make the precious metal invaluable as an input in myriad industrial applications including electrical components, batteries, photovoltaics (solar panels), auto parts, pollution abatement technology, ethylene oxide (an important chemical precursor), as well as brazing alloys and solders. 

    Of the white metals, silver also tracks gold most closely, boasting a correlation of 0.8 over the past five years. Since gold is seen as a defensive asset in times of expanded bank balance sheets or quantitative easing programs by central banks, monetary policy tends to have a “shadow impact” on silver—far less so than gold, but still noticeable. Lastly, albeit accounting for just 20% of silver use worldwide, it’s worth noting that jewelry demand has held more or less stable over the past decade. 

    Looking forward 
    Deep capital expenditures cuts in the industrial metals space is likely to have a significant effect on silver supplies, as the majority of silver is mined as a byproduct of zinc and copper. In the context of weakening global demand, especially from China, low commodity prices have reduced production incentives. Looking forward, as the global growth outlook improves, demand for commodities, including silver, is likely to rise.

     

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    California's Last Nuclear Plant Is Closing, Edged Out by Renewables

    This article by Jim Polson and Jonathan Crawford for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

    Economics have achieved what environmentalists have sought for years: the shutdown of California’s nuclear power plants.

    PG&E Corp. is proposing to close two reactors at Diablo Canyon in a decade that would end up costing more to keep alive as California expands its use of renewable energy, Chief Executive Officer Tony Earley said Tuesday. They won’t be needed after 2025 as wind and solar costs decline and electricity from the reactors becomes increasingly expensive, he said.

    Diablo Canyon became California’s only operating nuclear power plant after Edison International three years ago shut its San Onofre plant north of San Diego after a leak. Tuesday’s announcement follows decisions this month to retire three other U.S. nuclear plants struggling to make money amid historically low power prices and cheap natural gas.

    “It’s going to cost less overall as a total package than if you just continued to operate Diablo Canyon,” Earley said. “It’s going to operate less because of the energy policies that are in place.”

     

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