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

    Perspectives for the Clean Energy Transition

    This report from the International Energy Agency may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    In contrast to current trends, the Faster Transition Scenario sets out a vision for an extremely ambitious transformation of the energy sector. Energy-related emissions peak around 2020 and drop 75% to around 10 gigatonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) per year by 2050. The carbon intensity of the power sector falls by more than 90% and the end-use sectors see a 65% drop, thanks to energy efficiency, uptake of renewable energy technologies and shifts to low-carbon electricity.

    Electrification plays a major role in the transition, combined with clean power generation. Electricity’s share in final energy reaches about 35% by 2050, compared to less than 20% today. That growth is mainly due to adoption of heat pumps in buildings and industry, as well as a swift evolution in transport. Efficiency improvements keep electricity demand for other end uses, such as lighting and cooling, relatively stable, while access to electricity improves worldwide.

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    On Target

    Thanks to Martin Spring for this edition of his ever-interesting letter. Here is a section on the coal market which I found particularly illuminating: 

    While climate-change activists make a lot of fuss about the US, where emission of greenhouse gases has been in decline, they aren’t demonstrating loudly about China -- which attacks developed countries for not doing enough, while itself doing most to worsen it,

    The New York Times reports that China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases from coal, now admits it’s burning up to 17 per cent more coal than its government previously claimed when it signed up for the Paris accord.

    And it’s making things worse. Across China the government is building a fleet of new coal-fired stations with 259 gigawatts of capacity, while outside the country it’s financing even more new coal plants, providing $36 billion for 399 gigawatts.

    “Chinese bankers and project planners like coal-backed projects because they are cheap,” says the energy consultancy IEEFA. “While they are restricted by Chinese pollution and emissions targets at home, they are free to fund coal-backed projects abroad.”

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    Chevron Buys Anadarko in $33 Billion Bet on Shale Oil, LNG

    This article by By Kimberly Yuen, Javier Blas and Kelly Gilblom for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    "Chevron’s deal for Anadarko escalates the race with Exxon Mobil for the Permian and delivery of synergies and efficiencies will be critical in narrowing or overtaking its peer’s returns." --Fernando Valle, industry analyst, and Jonathan Mardini, associate analyst

    The deal may put pressure on Shell to seek assets in the Permian, where the Anglo-Dutch company has said it wants to grow. Oil executives and bankers had in the past speculated that Shell may buy Anadarko because they have adjacent acreage. Shell has in the past several months held talks with Endeavor Energy Resources LP, the largest privately-owned company in the Permian that bankers say might be valued at $10 billion to $15 billion.

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    Musings from the Oil Patch April 3rd 2019

    Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of Allen Brooks’ ever interesting report for PPHB. Here is a section on coal to gas power plant conversions:

    With an investment of roughly 50% of the value of an operating coalfired power plant, the benefits of converting to natural gas for fuel can make economic sense, based on our estimates.  However, as every technical article we read discussing fuel conversions pointed out, each project is different and requires an extensive analysis before reaching a conclusion.  We will not bore you with the extended lists of issues to be considered.  Natural gas makes for a cleaner environment and operating facility, and also requires less ongoing maintenance.  Gas plants are also less labor intensive, which may become a greater consideration in the future with a tighter labor market and an aging labor force.  

    Given the amount of natural gas resources in the world, it would be nice to say that this conversion option is a panacea for the expensive decarbonization efforts currently being proposed.  A global coal-to-gas conversion effort is not likely, even though we suspect many more switches could (may) be justified.  As the economics of the Joliet conversion highlights, the plant moved from a baseload to peaking status, which could be justified by current energy economics.  We doubt all regions have similar economics that facilitate such a move.  The world will continue to remain dependent on an “all of the above” energy slate for ensuring everyone has access to cost-effective electricity.  

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    Production of battery grade cobalt blows up First Cobalt's stock

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

    “Producing a battery grade cobalt sulfate is one of our most significant accomplishments as the majority of refined cobalt for the electric vehicle market is produced in Asia. With no cobalt sulfate production in North America today, First Cobalt stands to become the first such producer for the American electric vehicle market," Trent Mell, President & CEO said in the press release.

    “Electric vehicle demand in North America will keep growing," Henrik Fisker, First Cobalt director and CEO of electric vehicle manufacturer Fisker Inc., said. "Companies such as Fisker continue to introduce new, affordable EV models to the market. Automakers and battery manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure any materials we use in our batteries are sourced in an ethical way.  The restart of the First Cobalt Refinery is an important step towards producing battery materials in America with a clean record from mine to machine.”

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    Fastest Electric Car Chargers Waiting for Batteries to Catch Up

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

    “The charging capacities of electric vehicles have doubled in the space of a few years,’’ Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen said in an email. “We expect that fast-charging in public spaces will become the norm.’’

    Tesla, which has more than 12,000 chargers globally, is boosting the speed of its own refueling units to cut time at the pump by as much as half. The upgrade promises to add as much as 75 miles of charge in five minutes -- still lagging the ultra-fast models.

    The speed at which current EVs can recharge is limited by such factors as the size of their battery, the voltage the pack can accept and the charger’s current.

    While it may be years before battery packs able to handle the power surge from ultra-fast chargers go mainstream, some new EVs -- including Hyundai Motor Co.’s Kona Electric and Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc’s I-Pace -- already can recharge faster than previous generations.

    Volkswagen’s Porsche brand will introduce its electric Taycan sports car later this year. It’s the first vehicle capable of taking full advantage of the fastest chargers, with a larger battery and the ability to operate at a higher voltage.

    “The cars are coming,” said Marty Andrews, CEO of Chargefox Pty, which installed ABB’s fastest units at some Australia charging stations. “The carmakers want ultra-rapid chargers because they want this to be future-proof. This is not a six-month plan, it’s a 10-year plan.”

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    The Biggest Saudi Oil Field Is Fading Faster Than Anyone Guessed

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

    The new maximum production rate for Ghawar means that the Permian in the U.S., which pumped 4.1 million barrels a day last month according to government data, is already the largest oil production basin. The comparison isn’t exact -- the Saudi field is a conventional reservoir, while the Permian is an unconventional shale formation -- yet it shows the shifting balance of power in the market.

    Ghawar is so important for Saudi Arabia because the field has "accounted for more than half of the total cumulative crude oil production in the kingdom," according to the bond prospectus. The country has been pumping since the discovery of the Dammam No. 7 well in 1938.

    On top of Ghawar, which was found in 1948 by an American geologist, Saudi Arabia relies heavily on two other mega-fields: Khurais, which was discovered in 1957, and can pump 1.45 million barrels a day, and Safaniyah, found in 1951 and still today the world’s largest offshore oil field with capacity of 1.3 million. In total, Aramco operates 101 oilfields.

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    Aramco to Buy $69 Billion Sabic Stake in Record Mideast Deal

    This article by Matthew Martin, Dinesh Nair, and Archana Narayanan for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

    Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, will buy a majority stake in local chemical giant Sabic from the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund for $69.1 billion.

    The Middle East’s biggest deal will transfer a big slug of cash into the Public Investment Fund, helping Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman finance his economic agenda. It also weights Aramco away from its core oil production business, pumping 10 percent of the world’s crude, and more toward the production of fuels and chemicals.

    “This transaction is a major step in accelerating Saudi Aramco’s transformative downstream growth strategy of integrated refining and petrochemicals," Amin Nasser, chief executive officer of Aramco, said in the statement.

    The deal, first mooted last year, values the Public Investment Fund’s 70 percent stake at 123.4 riyals per share according to a statement. The remaining shares, traded on the Saudi stock market, aren’t part of the transaction.

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    Oil 2019: Analysis and forecast to 2024

    This summary report from IEA may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    The United States leads global supply growth The United States continues to dominate supply growth in the medium term. Following the unprecedented expansion seen in 2018, when total liquids production increased by a record 2.2 million barrels per day (mb/d), the United States will account for 70% of the increase in global production capacity until 2024, adding a total of 4 mb/d.


    Important contributions will also come from other non-OPEC countries, including Brazil, Canada, a resurgent Norway, and newcomer Guyana, which together add another 2.6 mb/d in the next five years. In total, non-OPEC production is set to increase by 6.1 mb/d through to 2024.


    Among OPEC countries, only Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have significant plans to increase capacity. These gains have to offset steep losses from Iran and Venezuela, which are subject to sanctions and political or economic turmoil. As a result, OPEC’s effective production capacity falls by 0.4 mb/d by 2024.

    The United States is also turning into a major player in the global oil trade
    As a result of its strong oil production growth, the United States will become a net oil exporter in 2021, as its crude and products exports exceed its imports. Towards the end of forecast, US gross exports will reach 9 mb/d, overtaking Russia and catching up on Saudi Arabia. The transformation of the United States into a major exporter is another consequence of its shale revolution.

    Greater US exports to global markets strengthen oil security around the world. Buyers of crude oil, particularly in Asia, where demand is growing fastest, have a wider choice of suppliers. This gives them more operational and trading flexibility, reducing their reliance on traditional, long term supply contracts.

    Global trade is not simply a story for the United States. The second-largest increase in crude exports comes from Brazil, which ships an extra 0.8 mb/d of oil by 2024. Following Brazil, Norway is enjoying a renaissance and will overtake Kazakhstan and Kuwait in the next five years a remarkable achievement.

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    Wild Week Ahead for Trump, Kim, Brexit, Cohen and Fed's Powell

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

    After days of buildup, Trump kicked off the week by delaying a threatened increase in U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports and dangling a summit with President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida retreat, if “both sides make additional progress.” Along the way, he slapped down Lighthizer on a semantic point. Earlier, the two sides were haggling over how to ensure Beijing lives up to its promise to not weaken the yuan. Trump then reported substantial progress, including on currency.


    Look for Powell to offer signals on what’s next for the Fed during two days of congressional testimony. When they last met, policy makers broadly backed ending the runoff of the central bank’s balance sheet. Lighthizer, who testifies Wednesday, may give a sense of how likely the U.S. is to impose tariffs on auto imports. The European Union is threatening to hit back. U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product, due Thursday, is expected to show 2.5 percent expansion last year, short of the Trump administration’s ambitious goal.

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