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Solar now ‘cheapest electricity in history’: How much will it matter?

Solar now ‘cheapest electricity in history’: How much will it matter?

The International Energy Agency (IEA), the Paris-based consortium of 30 countries, has told us in its flagship World Energy Outlook 2020 that solar-produced electricity is now the “cheapest electricity in history.”  That seems like very good news, that is, until the actual expected impact of that fact is examined more closely.

For those who are concerned about climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric generation, it is certainly good news—but not quite good enough to make a dent in fossil fuel emissions.

Setting aside any concerns about critical materials needed to make the solar revolution reach completion, it may surprise many readers of the “cheapest electricity in history” headline that growth in solar energy will likely NOT lead to a reduction of fossil fuel burning anytime soon. In fact, the IEA’s main forecast has natural gas consumption growing by 30 percent through 2040 while oil consumption levels off but does not decline. Coal use does continue to decline as a share of total energy.

With solar energy and other renewables expected to grow so much by 2040, how can this be so? The answer is that what the IEA calls non-hydro renewables (solar, wind, geothermal, biomass) will provide 80 percent of the INCREASE in expected global electricity demand. That means that the fossil fuel electricity infrastructure will continue to grow and that existing plants will remain in place rather than be supplanted by renewables.

Of course, for the part of the economy that runs on liquid fuels including transportation and many industrial processes requiring high heat, more renewable electricity doesn’t make much of a dent in fossil fuel use. Even where transportation is being electrified, the growth in internal combustion engine vehicles continues to dwarf those running on electricity…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

IHS Markit: Oil Demand Won’t Fully Recover Until 2022

IHS Markit: Oil Demand Won’t Fully Recover Until 2022

Global oil demand will likely take another year or so to return to pre-pandemic levels—by late 2021 or early 2022, energy expert and IHS Markit vice chairman Daniel Yergin told Al Arabiya English in a video interview on Monday.

Yergin’s expectations for oil demand are roughly in line with the forecasts by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and OPEC, which don’t expect annual oil demand to return to the pre-COVID levels next year, despite the projected rise compared to this year’s slump.

Continued low demand for jet fuel will account for 80 percent of next year’s 3.1-million-bpd gap in oil demand compared to pre-pandemic levels, the IEA said in its monthly Oil Market Report earlier this month. OPEC also revised down its oil demand projections for this year and next in its Monthly Oil Market Report for December, expecting 2021 oil demand at 95.89 million bpd, down 410,000 bpd from its projection of 96.3 million bpd from November.

IHS Markit’s Yergin doesn’t see the biggest disruption on the oil market as either bringing forward or delaying peak oil demand.

“At the end of the day, it won’t have much impact on peak oil demand, which I still think will be around 2030 or so,” Yergin told Al Arabiya English.

The Pulitzer-Prize winning energy author also discussed the U.S. shale patch and the chances of it returning to the rapid growth in production in the years just before the 2020 price crash.

“Let me give you a very simple answer, the answer is no,” Yergin told Al Arabiya English when asked if U.S. oil production could return to 1.5-million-bpd annual growth.

According to IHS Markit, shale production will stay relatively unchanged at around 11 million bpd until late 2021, before it starts rising, but it will increase at a much more moderate pace.

“So that 1.5 million barrels per day, that two million barrels per day that was so disruptive for the oil market, that’s history,” Yergin told Al Arabiya English.

Forget Peak Oil Demand, Supply Crisis Could be Hitting First

Forget Peak Oil Demand, Supply Crisis Could be Hitting First

In today’s IEA’s annual World Energy Outlook 2020 report, the OECD energy watchdog states that it doesn’t see a peak oil demand before 2040, only a possible oil demand flattening. The energy agency repeats that oil demand is effected by COVID, but all scenarios show that oil demand has not peaked yet. The energy agency contradicts here the views currently being proponed by BP and others that oil demand has peaked already. The report bluntly states that after recovering from the “exceptional ferocity” of the COVID-19 crisis, world oil demand will rise from 97.9 million bpd in 2019 to 104.1 million bpd in 2040.

Even that the agency acknowledges that demand has been hit and is lagging behind 2019 levels, overall demand will increase, only the increase will be slightly slower than expected. The Paris-based agency, financed by the OECD governments, and lately known as a main proponent of energy transition and renewables, expects that a slower increase of oil demand the coming years will be caused by clean transport policies and surging renewable energy. At the same time the IEA also reiterates that demand for petrochemicals and global growth of long-distance transport will be leading to a net increase of oil demand until 2040.

It needs to be reiterated that several major factors are very unsure that could have a major impact on global oil demand growth. The current assessments are all taking into account a wide range of proposed and/or signed energy transition and net-zero emission government policies.

These will have an impact if fully implemented by all. Looking at the current situation, especially due to COVID-related economic issues, renewable and emission reduction policies could however become sidelined, delayed or put on ice. The need for a revamp of the global economies is clear, but choices will be made by respective constituencies without full focus on climate change and renewables.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

CHART OF THE WEEK: The Surprising Drop In U.S. Crude Oil Production

CHART OF THE WEEK: The Surprising Drop In U.S. Crude Oil Production

U.S. crude oil production experienced a surprising drop last week, even though domestic demand for oil and petroleum products increased.  This came as a surprise to some energy analysts.  Furthermore, the IEA, International Energy Agency came out with a forecast for global oil demand to fall 8.1 million barrels per day in 2020.

I have to say, this is terrible news coming from the IEA.  Just last month, the IEA stated that global oil demand could fall to 7.1 mbd (million barrels per day), but only recently updated their forecast for an 8.1 mbd decline in 2020 due to “gloomy airline travel.”

Actually, we don’t really know what global oil demand will look like by the end of the year.  There are way too many variables.  Even though the Fed and central banks are planning to pump in more stimulus plans over the next few months, the negative SNOWBALL EFFECT of all the closed stores, unemployment, commercial real estate armageddon, collapse in airline travel, supply chain disruptions, and so forth, will likely impact oil demand to a greater degree by the end of 2020 and into 2021.

Another CURVEBALL to hit the United States is the coming collapse in U.S. Shale oil production.  While some companies have curtailed production, and are now bringing some of it back online, total U.S. crude oil production surprisingly declined to 10.7 mbd last week.

U.S. crude oil production reached a peak of 13.1 mbd in late February, right before the global contagion and shutdown of economies.  It fell to a low of 10.5 mbd in mid-June, then rebounded to 11.0 mbd for the next two months.  However, in the lasted EIA, U.S. Energy Information Agency weekly report, U.S. oil production fell from 11.0 mbd to 10.7 mbd last week.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Natural Gas Price Plunge Could Soon Lead To Shut-Ins

Natural Gas Price Plunge Could Soon Lead To Shut-Ins

Natural gas prices plunged to new lows this week, falling below $1.50/MMBtu, a catastrophically low price for U.S. gas drillers.  The factors afflicting the gas market are multiple. Prices had already fallen below $2/MMBtu at the start of 2020, weighed down by oversupply. But it wasn’t a problem confined to the U.S. There was also a global glut of LNG due to a wave of capacity additions in 2019.  

That was the situation heading into 2020. But just as the Covid-19 pandemic tore apart the oil market, natural gas also went into a tailspin. Global gas demand is expected to fall by 4 percent this year, “largest recorded demand shock” in history, according to the International Energy Agency. 

Buyers of U.S. LNG are now cancelling shipments at a rapid clip. U.S. LNG exports have declined by more than half compared to pre-pandemic levels.

“There would have been too much LNG in the world even without Covid-19,” Ben Chu, a director at Wood Mackenzie’s Genscape service, said in a statement. “Covid-19 has made it worse.”

Buyers abroad are willing to pay a cancellation fee instead of receiving shipment from U.S. exporters, a sign of how badly the market has deteriorated. For August delivery, between 40 and 45 cargoes have been cancelled, nearly double the rate of cancellation in June. 

Typically, cheaper gas can stimulate demand, particularly in the electric power sector. But that outlet is not as large as it may have been in the past, not least because gas has already been cheap for quite some time. Thus, the coal-to-gas option is limited. Without an export route, and without larger uptake from utilities, the gas glut has deepened. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

WTI Extends Losses Below $20 After Record Surge In Crude Inventories

WTI Extends Losses Below $20 After Record Surge In Crude Inventories

WTI crashed below $20 (tagging $19.20) overnight after API reported huge inventory builds and was not helped by comments from the International Energy Agency that a historic production cut deal won’t be enough to counter a record demand slump this year.

This appears to confirm a key gauge of the oil market’s health which is at its weakest in more than a decade as supplies build and futures contracts roll over. West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery traded at more than $7 a barrel below its June contract on Tuesday, the deepest contango since 2009. The May contract is nearing expiration and exchange-traded funds, including the United States Oil Fund, have been selling front-month contracts and buying second-month futures.

Source: Bloomberg

Simply put, this is an indication of extreme oversupply.

“At least over the next month or so, before these cuts have an opportunity to kick in, we are going to be very stressed on inventories,” Bart Melek, head of commodity strategy at TD Securities, said by telephone.

And so all eyes are once again on the inventories for any positive signs…

API

  • Crude +13.143mm (+10.1mm exp)
  • Cushing +5.361mm
  • Gasoline +2.226mm (+7.1mm exp)
  • Distillates +5.64mm (+1.8mm exp)

DOE

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Many signs of peak oil and decline

Many signs of peak oil and decline

Preface.  Recently the IEA 2018 World Energy Outlook predicted an oil crunch could happen as soon as 2023.  Oil supermajors are expected to have 10 years of reserve life or more, Shell is down to just 8 years.

Political shortages are as big a problem as geological depletion. At least 90% of remaining global oil is in government hands, especially Saudi Arabia and other countries in the middle east that vulnerable to war, drought, and political instability.

And in 2018, the U.S. accounted for 98% of global oil production growth and since 2008, the U.S. accounted for 73.2% of the global increase in production (see Rapier below).   What really matters is peak diesel, which I explained in “When trucks stop running”, and fracked oil has very little diesel, much of it is only good for plastics, and yet America may well be the last gasp of the oil age if production isn’t going up elsewhere.

Related

2019. When will ‘peak oil’ hit global energy markets? dw.com.  Darren Woods, CEO of ExxonMobil predicts a 25% rise in global energy demand for the next two decades, due to “global demographic and macroeconomic growth trends. When you factor in depletion rates, the need for new oil grows at 8% a year,” he told analysts in March.

***

Clearly the depth of wells we need to drill show we are reaching peak oil production:  2019-11-19 The Truth About The World’s Deepest Oil Well

How deep into the ground do we have to go to tap the resources we need to keep the lights on? How deep into the ground are we able to go? 

The first oil well drilled in Texas in 1866 was a little over 100 feet deep: the No 1 Isaac C. Skillern struck oil at a depth that, from today’s perspective, is ridiculously shallow.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The “Twin Threats” Facing Big Oil

The “Twin Threats” Facing Big Oil

Wolfcamp rig

The global oil and gas industry is facing the “twin threats” of the loss of profitability and the loss of social acceptability as the climate crisis continues to worsen. The industry is not adequately responding to either of those threats, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“Oil and gas companies have been proficient at delivering the fuels that form the bedrock of today’s   energy system; the question that they now face is whether they can help deliver climate solutions,” the IEA said.

The report, whose publication was timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, critiques the oil industry for not doing enough to plan for the transition. The IEA said that companies are spending only about 1 percent of their capex on anything outside of their core oil and gas strategy. Even the companies doing the most are only spending about 5 percent of their budgets on non-oil and gas investments.

There are some investments here and there into solar, or electric vehicle recharging infrastructure, but by and large the oil majors are doing very little to overhaul their businesses. The top companies only spent about $2 billion on solar, wind, biofuels and carbon capture last year.

Before even getting to the transition risk due to climate change, the oil industry was already facing questions about profitability. Over the past decade the free cash flow from operations at the five largest oil majors trailed the total sent to shareholders by about $200 billion. In other words, they cannot afford to finance their operations and also keep up obligations to shareholders. Something will have to change. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

IEA: An Oil Glut Is Inevitable In 2020

IEA: An Oil Glut Is Inevitable In 2020

Sohar oil tanks

Despite the OPEC+ cuts, the oil market is still facing a supply surplus in 2020, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

OPEC+ announced additional cuts of 500,000 bpd, which sounds more impressive than it is because the group was already producing under its limit. In November, for instance, OPEC was producing 440,000 bpd below the agreed upon ceiling.

Saudi Arabia agreed to shoulder an additional 400,000 bpd of voluntary cuts. But the deal also exempts 1.5 million barrels per day (mb/d) of Russia’s condensate production, allowing Russia to actually increase condensate output by 0.8 mb/d.

Still, the deal should take supply off the market. “If all the countries comply with their new allocations and Saudi Arabia delivers the rest of its voluntary cut of 0.4 mb/d, the fall in production volume versus today will be about 0.5 mb/d,” the IEA said.

OPEC said in its own report that the oil market would be largely in balance in 2020, albeit with a temporary glut in the early part of the year. The IEA sees inventories building at a rate of 0.7 mb/d in the first quarter.

The IEA cut its forecast for non-OPEC supply growth from 2.3 mb/d to 2.1 mb/d, due to weaker growth from Brazil, Ghana and the United States. The U.S. typically gets all of the attention, but disappointing news from Brazil and Ghana also led the IEA to revise forecasts lower.

Notably, Tullow Oil revealed a major disappointment from its Ghana operations, causing a complete meltdown in its share price this week. Its stock fell nearly 70 percent in a single day as investors overhauled their valuation of the company. Tullow admitted that its production from Ghana would decline in the years ahead.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Country Using The Most Electricity May Surprise You

The Country Using The Most Electricity May Surprise You

In 2017, global electricity consumption increased 2.5 percent to reach 25,721 Twh.

When it comes to consumption, China uses the most of any country at 25.9 percent, followed by the United States with 17.5 percent; but, as Statista’s Niall McCarthy noteson a per capita basis, the situation is different.

According to the IEA Atlas of Energy, electricity consumption in Iceland was 54.4 megwatt hours per capita in 2017, the highest level of any country.

Infographic: Which Countries Use The Most Electricity?  | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

That’s primarily due to abundant natural resources that make electricity production affordable along with energy-intensive industries. The harsh and dark Icelandic climate also contributes to heavy demand for electricity.

The situation is similar in Norway which comes second with 23.7 megawatt hours per capita.

Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait follow due to considerable demand for air conditioning.

Many signs of peak oil and decline

Many signs of peak oil and decline

Preface.  Recently the IEA 2018 World Energy Outlook predicted an oil crunch could happen as soon as 2023.  Oil supermajors are expected to have 10 years of reserve life or more, Shell is down to just 8 years.

Political shortages are as big a problem as geological depletion. At least 90% of remaining global oil is in government hands, especially Saudi Arabia and other countries in the middle east that vulnerable to war, drought, and political instability.

And in 2018, the U.S. accounted for 98% of global oil production growth and since 2008, the U.S. accounted for 73.2% of the global increase in production (see Rapier below).   What really matters is peak diesel, which I explained in “When trucks stop running”, and fracked oil has very little diesel, much of it is only good for plastics, and yet America may well be the last gasp of the oil age if production isn’t going up elsewhere.

Related articles:

2019-6-10 World crude production outside US and Iraq is flat since 2005

***

Rapier, R. 2019. The U.S. accounted for 98% of global oil production growth in 2018. Forbes.

Earlier this month BP released its Statistical Review of World Energy 2019.   The U.S. extended its lead as the world’s top oil producer to a record 15.3 million BPD (my comment: minus 4.3 million BPD natural gas liquids, which really shouldn’t be included since they aren’t transportation fuels). In addition, the U.S. led all countries in increasing production over the previous year, with a gain of 2.18 million BPD (equal to 98% of the total of global additions),… which helped offset declines from Venezuela (-582,000 BPD), Iran (-308,000 BPD), Mexico (-156,000 BPD), Angola (-143,000 BPD), and Norway (-119,000 BPD).

Peak demand?  Hardly: “the world set a new oil production record of 94.7 million BPD, which is the ninth straight year global oil demand has increased.

Fickling, D. 2019. Sunset for Oil Is No Longer Just Talk. Bloomberg.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Renewables power forward

Renewables power forward 

Renewable energy continues to outperform and outmuscle traditional sources of energy in the majority of countries across the globe. Renewables are now the cheapest power technology for new electricity generation across two-thirds of the world.  This is the startling finding of a new study from an authoritative agency published earlier this month. 

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s assessment of the global energy picture is more objective that those of the oil and gas companies (like British Petroleum), or even of supposedly non-aligned agencies like the International Energy Agency, which tend to assume that that world will deviate only slowly from a business-as-usual path. On the other hand, BNEF is more concerned with global finance and investment opportunities: it tends to be clear-eyed and much more realistic about what the future holds.

Megawatt-scale wind turbine blades delivered

The numbers speak for themselves: solar photovoltaic modules, wind turbines and utility-scale lithium-ion batteries (the essential partner for solar and wind), are set to continue down strong cost-reduction curves of 28%, 14% and 18% respectively for each doubling in global installed capacity. This irresistible market pressure means that by 2030, the energy generated or stored and dispatched by this triumvirate of transformative technologies will undercut electricity generated by existing coal and gas plants almost everywhere.

In the BNEF scenario, the electrification of the major economic sectors substantially drives up the global demand for electricity.  But this power is not generated by carbon-based fuels. The world changes from two-thirds fossil fuels in 2018 to two-thirds zero carbon energy by 2050. For wind and solar this is 50-by-50: supplying 50% of the worlds electricity by 2050–effectively ending the era of fossil-fuel dominance in the power sector.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘High’ Oil Prices Are Already Dampening Demand

‘High’ Oil Prices Are Already Dampening Demand

Fatih Birol

Crude oil prices are affecting demand for the commodity negatively, the International Energy Agency’s head Fatih Birol told S&P Global Platts in an interview.

“The higher oil price environment may, if they stay around this level, also have an impact…put some downward pressure under demand growth,” Birol said. The warning follows the release of IEA’s latest Oil Market Report, in which the authority kept its oil demand growth projections for this year unchanged at 1.4 million bpd.

The agency’s boss noted that Brent over US$70 a barrel is affecting demand the most in the emerging markets that account for the most of demand growth, including China and India, but also the United States.

“So it will not be a surprise if we are to revise our demand numbers in the next edition of the oil market report if the prices remain at these levels,” he told S&P Global Platts.

For those that are watching oil price movements and the reactions of the world’s largest importers, this is not news. After a slump in the fourth quarter of last year, Brent has rebounded by about 40 percent, trading above US$70 at the moment.

Prices were pushed up by the entry into effect of the latest OPEC+ round of production cuts with Saudi Arabia leading the charge and cutting considerably more than it had agreed to, yet again in a bid to raise prices to levels it feels more comfortable with. However, these are levels that India and China do not feel equally comfortable with.

India relies on exports for more than 80 percent of its oil consumption and China is more dependent on imports than it would like to be. So, it is no wonder that the climb in prices “will definitely hurt oil demand if it soared especially in the important demand growth centers such as India,” according to Birol.

THE COMING MIDDLE EAST OIL CRISIS: The Collapse Of Net Oil Exports

THE COMING MIDDLE EAST OIL CRISIS: The Collapse Of Net Oil Exports

The Middle East is heading for a crisis in its oil industry.  Unfortunately, the market doesn’t realize there is any danger on the horizon because it mainly focuses on how much oil the Middle East is producing rather than its exports.  You see, it doesn’t really matter how much oil a country produces but rather the amount of its net oil exports.

A perfect example of this is Mexico.  As I mentioned in a recent article, NEXT OIL DOMINO TO FALL? Mexico Becomes A Net Oil Importer, Mexico is now a net importer of oil for the first time in more than 50 years.  Furthermore, the IEA – International Energy Agency, published in their newest OMR Report that Mexico is forecasted to lose another 170,000 barrels per day of oil production in 2019.  Thus, this is terrible news for the United States southern neighbor as it will have to import even more oil to satisfy its domestic consumption.

Now, when we think of the Middle East, we are mostly concerned with its oil production.  However, the Middle Eastern countries, just like Mexico, have been increasing their domestic consumption, quite considerably, over the past 40+ years.  How much… well, let’s take a look. Since 2000, total Middle East domestic oil consumption jumped from 5.1 million barrels per day (mbd) to 9.3 mbd in 2017:

As we can see, while Middle East oil production increased by 7.9 mbd from 2000 to 2017, domestic consumption expanded by 4.2 mbd.  This means that more than 50% of the Middle East’s production growth during this period was absorbed by domestic use.  The next chart shows how the changes in the regions oil production and consumption impacted net oil exports.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

IEA 2018 World Energy Outlook: Peak oil is here, oil crunch by 2023

IEA 2018 World Energy Outlook: Peak oil is here, oil crunch by 2023

Preface. I’ve been working on a post about the latest IEA 2018 World Energy Outlook report, but the excerpts from the cleantechnica article below states most clearly why there is likely to be a supply crunch as soon as the early 2020s and the investment implications.

Meanwhile, here’s what I’ve gleaned from other summaries of the report.

Although many hope that oil companies will drill for oil when prices go up and close the supply gap looming within the next few years, very little oil has been found to drill for for several years now. The IEA 2018 report also says that shale oil will not rescue us, and likely to peak in the mid-2020s.

Oil companies do have money, but they haven’t been drilling because there’s no cheap oil to be found, so instead they’ve been spending their money buying their shares back.

From  crashoil.blogspot.com: World Energy Outlook 2018: Someone shouted “peak oil”

This excerpt is in Spanish translated to English by google.  It shows a civilization crashing 8% decline rate that the IEA hopes will be brought to an also civilization crashing 4% rate with new oil drilling projects.

“How is this alarming graph interpreted? According to the text, the red is what they call “natural decline” and corresponds to how oil production would decrease if the companies did not even invest in maintaining the current wells; As explained in the report, it is 8% per year. The pink area corresponds to the “observed decline” and is what the IEA inferred how production will actually decline if companies invest what is needed for the correct maintenance of the current deposits. This decline corresponds to 4% per year.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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