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Has oil peaked?

Last month, the world’s 4th largest oil company—BP—predicted that the world will never again consume as much petroleum as it did last year. So, have we finally hit peak oil? And if so, what does that mean for our economy and our world?

There was fierce controversy in the first decade of this century over claims by petroleum geologists and energy commentators that peak oil was imminent (I was a figure in that debate, writing several books on the topic). Most of those early claims were based on analysis of oil depletion and consequent supply constraints. BP, however, is talking about a peak in oil demand—which, according to its forecast, could fall by more than 10 percent this decade and as much as 50 percent over the next 20 years if the world takes strong action to limit climate change.

Source: PeakOilBarrel.com; production in thousands of barrels per day.

Numbers from the US Energy Information Administration’s Monthly Review tell us that world oil production (not counting biofuels and natural gas liquids) actually hit its zenith, so far at least, in November 2018, nearly reaching 84.5 million barrels per day. After that, production rates stalled, then plummeted in response to collapsing demand during the coronavirus pandemic. The current production level stands at about 76 mb/d.

Many early peak oil analysts predicted that the maximum rate of oil production would be achieved in the 2005-to-2010 timeframe, after which supplies would decline minimally at first, then more rapidly, causing prices to skyrocket and the economy to crash.

Those forecasters were partly right and partly wrong. Conventional oil production did plateau starting in 2005, and oil prices soared in 2007, helping trigger the Great Recession.

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

How much oil left in America? Not much

How much oil left in America? Not much

Preface. If you think we have no worries because we can get arctic oil, think again. We can’t because icebergs mow drilling platforms down in the ocean. On land, massive amounts of expensive new drilling rigs, roads, rail lines, platforms, buildings and other infrastructure need to be built, and maintained every year as permafrost soil bucks and heaves like a bronco trying to shake infrastructure off.

In the first two oil shocks in the 1970s, many intelligent people proposed we should buy oil from other nations to keep ours in the ground for when foreign oil declined. But hell no, Texas, Oklahoma, and other oil states said that we need jobs and CEO/shareholder profits more than national security. Over half of all remaining oil is in the Middle East, which China, Russia, and Europe are much closer to than the U.S.

What saved the U.S. and the world, from conventional peak oil and natural gas decline since 2005 is fracking. But fracking began to decline as early as 2020 according the first report below. The second article is about oil discoveries in the U.S. declining.

This just in: John Hess, CEO of Hess Corporation, told his audience that “key U.S. shale fields are starting to plateau” and will not the next Saudi Arabia. U.S. shale oil production has been a major driver in the growth of world oil supplies. Last year the United States accounted for 98% of global growth in oil production. Since 2008 the number is 73%. so a slowdown or decline in U.S. oil production growth would mean trouble for the whole world. With 81 percent of global oil production now in decline, even a plateau in U.S. production would likely result in a worldwide decline (Kobb 2020).

Peak Fracking in the news:

2020 U.S. Shale Oil Production – All That’s Left Is The Permian And That Won’t Last Forever Either.

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

The End of Oil is Near, or Maybe Not

The cover of the September/October 2020 issue of Sierra magazine states “The End of Oil is Near”.  The corresponding story “The End of Oil?” was paralleled with a recent segment on Democracy Now.  I think that is wishful thinking.  To the extent that oil demand goes down in the future, it will go down because people can’t afford oil distillates at the price producers need to produce the corresponding oil.

The “The End of Oil?” article describes weak oil demand in recent years although it should be stated that global oil consumption increased over 5 million barrels/day from 2015 to 2019.  A major factor for weak oil demand growth in recent years is the increasing level of inequality in the U.S. and world.  There is an increasing population that can’t afford to buy oil distillates, or the devices that use them.  Oil distillates offer the ability to avoid manual physical effort which people tend to select when they can afford to.

“The End of Oil?” article emphasized the increase in global oil production in recent years.  Most of that production increase was associated with unconventional oil resources such as shale oil in the U.S. and oil sands in Canada.  The problem with those unconventional oil resources is that they are considerably more expensive to produce compared to conventional oil.  Conventional oil production is declining over much of the globe which has forced oil companies to move to unconventional resources.

The author describes oil majors, like ExxonMobil and Chevron, as getting into the shale oil business in recent years.  That is not a wise business decision but due to the lack of new conventional resources to exploit.

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

 

Is EIA Data Disguising A Disastrous Decline In U.S. Shale?

Is EIA Data Disguising A Disastrous Decline In U.S. Shale?

The Trump administration claims that the U.S. is “transitioning to greatness,” and that energy companies are going to see “massive gains.” U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette says there is “stability” in the oil market, and that economic activity will “explode” on the other side of the pandemic.


Dan Brouillette✔@SecBrouillette

Thanks to the leadership of President @realDonaldTrump, the transition to greatness is well underway, and our economy along with our U.S. energy companies are going to see massive gains on the other side of this pandemic.

Embedded video

Meanwhile, back in reality, U.S. oil production continues to decline as drillers shut in wells and cut back spending. Output has already declined by 1.1 million barrels per day (mb/d), and more losses are likely. New data from Rystad Energy predicts U.S. oil production declines of roughly 2 mb/d by the end of June.

“Actual production cuts are probably larger and occur not only as a result of shut-ins, but also due to a natural decline from existing wells when new wells and drilling decline,” Rystad said in a statement.

Energy expert Philip Verleger, in an article for Energy Intelligence reports that the magnitude of output declines is much larger. His latest research shows that production as of May 10 is down by almost 4 million bpd from its peak as the below chart shows.

Source: PK Verleger LLC

To be sure, the U.S. government is doing quite a bit to try to bailout the oil industry. A new report finds that some 90 oil and gas companies will benefit from the Federal Reserve’s corporate bond buying program. The Trump administration is also quietly reversing environmental protections on the oil and gas industry.

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

This Energy Analyst Says the Oil Sands Are ‘Done’

This Energy Analyst Says the Oil Sands Are ‘Done’

COVID-19 is making many bearish about bitumen. Deborah Lawrence’s past pessimism has proven unpopular, and correct.

deborah-lawrence2.jpg
Deborah Lawrence, formerly Deborah Rogers, warned of the shale gas and oil crashes, and called Teck Frontier’s proposed new oil sands mine ‘uncommercial even at relatively high oil prices’ years before it was cancelled. Photo: submitted.

Deborah Lawrence used to be a stockbroker with Merrill Lynch. Over the past decade, the independent economic analyst has developed a reputation for telling oil investors what they don’t want to hear.

In 2009, she started warning that the financial model for shale oil fracking companies doesn’t make any sense. Lawrence began analyzing financial data for Chesapeake Energy after the oil and gas company began drilling near her farm in Texas. She discovered that the company, and many others in the industry, were going through cash and accruing debt at alarming rates.

“I think we have a big problem,” she told a colleague at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, where she was then an advisory committee member. But finding a larger audience proved difficult. The so-called “shale revolution” was transforming the U.S. into the world’s biggest oil producer and everyone from oil executives to state leaders to Wall Street bankers wanted a piece of it.

“I kept saying, look, ‘There’s no free cash flow and it keeps deteriorating every year I look at this,’” Lawrence recalled in an interview with The Tyee. So she contacted business outlets like the Wall Street Journal. “I sent them stuff for so long with all the underlying documentation and they were like, ‘Oh no, shales are gonna save us forever.’”

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

THE END OF A U.S. OIL GIANT: ExxonMobil’s Days Are Numbered

THE END OF A U.S. OIL GIANT: ExxonMobil’s Days Are Numbered

ExxonMobil, the largest oil company in the U.S. and a direct descendant of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, days are numbered.  The once-great profitable oil giant is now borrowing money just to pay dividends.  How long can this charade go on?

Good question.  Now, some may believe that ExxonMobil was forced to borrow money to pay dividends due to the collapse in oil prices as a result of the global contagion.   However, the company hasn’t been able to pay shareholder dividends from its cash from operations over the past four quarters, even with much higher oil prices.

The leading culprit as to why ExxonMobil lacks the available cash to pay dividends stems from the lousy economics of its U.S. oil and gas wells, especially the company’s shale oil portfolio.  Ever since ExxonMobil ramped up its domestic shale oil production, that’s when the financial troubles at the company began to intensify.

The best way to compare ExxonMobil’s U.S. Upstream (oil and gas wells) performance, BEFORE and AFTER SHALE, is to go back to 2004.  Even though the oil price fell considerably in Q1 2020, it was higher than the oil price in 2004.  For example, ExxonMobil’s U.S. Upstream Sector earned $4.9 billion in 2004 with an average oil price of $41.51 compared to a $704 million loss on a $42.82 oil price:

Furthermore, look at the U.S. oil production differences between 2004 and Q1 2020.  According to ExxonMobil’s 2006 Annual Report, the company’s average U.S. oil production in 2004 was 414,000 barrels per day (bd) versus 699,000 bd in Q1 2020.  Even with higher oil production and similar oil price, ExxonMobil’s U.S. Upstream Earnings in Q1 2020 were dismal in comparison.  Moreover, the company invested $1.9 billion in CAPEX for all of 2004 on its U.S. oil and gas wells compared to the $2.8 billion just for Q1 2020.

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

THE DEATH OF THE BAKKEN HAS ARRIVED: Oil Production Down 30%

THE DEATH OF THE BAKKEN HAS ARRIVED: Oil Production Down 30%

With North Dakota Bakken oil production down more than 30%, the death of the mighty shale region has begun.  There is no way for the companies producing shale oil in the Bakken to recover from this global contagion overnight collapse.  Yes, it virtually happened overnight.  Since March 1st, the Bakken has seen at least 400,000 barrels per day of production shut-in.

What took three long years for the companies in the Bakken to increase production from the lows in 2016, vaporized in just the past two months. Unfortunately, shutting in horizontal fracked wells is the worst thing a company can do.  Why?  When a horizontal well is prematurely shut-in, it causes a lot of problems that are expensive to remedy when restarting the well.  So, many of these wells may be shut-in for good.

According to the Reuters article, ‘Like watching a train wreck’: The coronavirus effect on North Dakota shale oilfields:

Output has dropped by at least 400,000 bpd since March 1, nearly a third of the state’s around 1.4 million bpd output before the crisis. State officials expect the volume shut in to rise further.

“This is truly unprecedented,” said Lynn Helms, director of North Dakota’s Department of Mineral Resources, the state regulator overseeing oil production. In the days following the price collapse, oil companies sent teams out to shut wells.

Field inspectors, who work with the state’s 20 largest operators, had dire news for Helms, the worst of it from Continental Resources (CLR.N), the state’s largest operator. By April 21, about 95 percent of Continental’s production in the state had shut down.

Continental on average produced about 188,000 boepd in North Dakota Bakken during fourth quarter 2019, with about 1,540 net producing wells as of year end, according to company data. Other large producers in the state were also shutting down. Oasis Petroleum (OAS.O) was halting all drilling in the Bakken, where it pumped about 80,000 boepd at the end of 2019.

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

Permian Bankruptcies Could Fuel A Buying Spree For Big Oil

Permian Bankruptcies Could Fuel A Buying Spree For Big Oil

The United States shale revolution is over. Production in the Permian Basin, which spreads across West Texas and Southeast New Mexico, has been slowing for months, but the novel coronavirus took things from bad to much, much worse for U.S. shale. The oil price shock that followed the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with a massive global oil glut spurred by a spat between with learning OPEC+ member countries of Russia and Saudi Arabia, drove West Texas Intermediate oil prices down to a previously unthinkable -$37.63 a barrel earlier this month.  While shale prices have since moderately rebounded, the Permian Basin is still in bad shape. The oil fields that made the United States the biggest crude oil producer in the world is now seeing tens of thousands of fired and furloughed employees as the region is rocked by a sweep of bankruptcies across the shale sector. Last week CNBC reported that “the oil industry shakeout is just beginning with more production cuts and bankruptcies ahead,” detailing that “U.S. oil companies are already paring back spending and closing wells, but wild trading in the futures market was a warning to curb production now because the world at some point will not be able to store any more supply.”

Just because the U.S. oil industry has hit a rough patch, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the West Texas shale play is all played out. In fact, it stands to reason that, as competition dries up and blows away like so many tumbleweeds, Big Oil may step in and buy up faltering shale independents. 

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

The Shale Suffering Has Only Just Begun

The Shale Suffering Has Only Just Begun

Oil Demand

A few weeks before the summer driving season begins, U.S. gasoline consumption has plummeted to levels last seen in the late 1960s, due to the lockdowns to contain the spreading of the coronavirus.

With demand for motor fuel plunging, refiners are cutting crude processing, and crude oil storage capacity in America is filling fast. The glut is set to worsen in the coming weeks, and storage capacity at Cushing, Oklahoma, could be full by the middle of May, analysts say.  

The fast demand destruction in the pandemic threatens to fill up storage across America soon, forcing oil prices lower and forcing oil producers to idle more rigs and curtail more production than initially thought.  

Total U.S. petroleum consumption stabilized in the latest reporting week to April 17 at 14.1 million barrels per day (bpd), up slightly from the 13.8 million bpd estimated consumption in the previous week, which was the lowest weekly consumption level in EIA’s statistics dating back to the early 1990s.

But crude oil and gasoline inventories continued to jump while crude refinery inputs continued to drop, according to EIA’s latest inventory report from this week.

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 12.5 million bpd during the week ending April 17, which was 209,000 bpd less than the previous week’s average. Refineries continued to cut run rates and operated at 67.6 percent of their capacity. To compare, refiners would typically operate at more than 90 percent capacity just ahead of the summer driving season. But this year, the summer driving season is postponed and is expected to be very weak.

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

FIRST SHALE OIL DOMINO TO FALL: More to Follow

FIRST SHALE OIL DOMINO TO FALL: More to Follow

In a stunning news release, Continental Resources, the largest shale producer in the Bakken, is shutting in most of its production in the region.  That is one hell of a lot of output to shut-in as Continental Resources was producing over 200,000 barrels per day in the Bakken at the end of 2019.

From the data on Shaleprofile.com, Continental Resources had over 2,200 wells in the North Dakota and Montana Bakken producing oil and gas during February this year.  How many wells will Continental’s Harold Hamm shut in the Bakken??  And how many will be brought back online, at to what cost, when the market recovers??

According to Reuters, Continental Resources halts shale output, seeks to cancel sales:

April 23 (Reuters) – The largest oil producer in North Dakota has halted most of its production in the state, notifying some customers it would not supply crude at current pricing, according to people familiar with the matter.

Continental Resources Inc, the company controlled by billionaire Harold Hamm, stopped all drilling and shut in most of its wells in the state’s Bakken shale field, said three people familiar with production in the state. North Dakota is the second-largest oil-producing state in the United States after Texas.

This is terrible news for the U.S. Shale Oil Industry because $200 billion in debt is due over the next four years.  How are they going to repay this debt if shale companies stop drilling and shutting in production??

If we look at the top five shale oil producers in the Bakken, Continental Resources was clearly ahead of the pack:

This chart from Shaleprofile.com shows that Continental Resources produced more than 200,000 barrels per day in the Bakken at the end of 2019.  Hess, which is the second-ranked company, followed by a wide margin at 145,000 barrels per day.  Interestingly, the third-largest producer in the Bakken is Whiting Petroleum that just filed for Bankruptcy on April 1st.

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

U.S. Shale Braces For Brutal Earnings Season

U.S. Shale Braces For Brutal Earnings Season

U.S. Shale

A lot of big names will report third quarter earnings this week, and the results are expected to be worse than the same period in 2018.

The timing comes as the shale sector is facing somewhat of a reckoning. After years of price volatility – with more downs than ups – oil prices have failed to return even remotely close to pre-2014 levels. For several years, shale E&Ps took on debt and issued new equity, promising investors that they would profit both from a rebound in prices and from rapid production growth.

They delivered on gains to output, but not on profits. At some point in the last year, investors really began to lose faith. Oil stocks have been the worst performers in the S&P 500 this year.

The latest release of earnings will probably do little to quell unease from big investors. Oil and natural gas prices have dropped this year, by about 17 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Job cuts have returned and bankruptcies are on the rise again.

The oil majors are pressing forward with their aggressive shale development plans. That may prevent a noticeable decline in production. But their earnings – many of the majors report this week – are expected to be down roughly 40 percent from a year ago, which will raise some tough questions.

Some of the largest banks have slashed their credit lines to smaller shale E&Ps. According to Reuters, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and the Royal Bank of Canada are among some of the lenders that have reduced the amount of credit they are offering to drillers.

The so-called credit redetermination period happens twice a year, and banks tend to offer financing based on a company’s reserves. Lower prices lower that assessment because some reserves become uneconomic to produce. As a result, the ability to access financing becomes more restricted.

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

Unsettled Weather

Unsettled Weather


After leaving the Bahamas for dead, Hurricane Dorian barely grazed the US mainland en route to the Canadian shoals of oblivion, perhaps saving America’s insurance industry. But the steamy west coast of Africa is hurling out a cavalcade of replacements as the high season for Atlantic storms commences, so better keep the plywood sheets at hand. Lots of things are looking stormy around the world just now: nations, markets, politics — everything really except all three divisions of the American League… yawn….

The world is in a nervous place these days The US is something like the world’s crazy old auntie, whom everyone else would like to lock in the attic. Except she happens to be cradling a bazooka, so they’ll go on trying to ignore her a while longer, hoping she doesn’t launch any rockets at the neighbors.

Britain courts chaos in its attempt to keep staving off the Brexit quandary, which itself seems to promise a hearty dose of chaos as thousands of unresolved trade issues threaten the country’s economic future walking out on Europe. The majority who voted Brexit feel that the EU is already crushing them under bureaucratic diktat and immigration quotas. New Prime Minister Bo-Jo has tried one ploy after another in his quest to reach the Halloween Brexit ramp. Everyone is ganging up on him, even his own brother, Jo Johnson, who has quit the cabinet and is ditching his seat in parliament. Bo-Jo wants to call an election because there is no one else to take his place, and many of those piling on him also detest the opposition Labor Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Events are outrunning anybody’s ability to see what happens next. Street violence is not out of the question.

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

Bizarro World: The Herd Has Truly Gone MadYou’re not crazy. The world we now live in is

Bizarro World: The Herd Has Truly Gone MadYou’re not crazy. The world we now live in is

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

~ Charles Mackay (1841)

Like me, you may often feel gobsmacked when looking at the world around you.

How did things get so screwed up?

The simple summary is: the world has gone mad.

It’s not the first time.

History is peppered with periods when the minds of men (and women) deviated far from the common good. The Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, the rise of the Third Reich, Stalin’s Great Purge, McCarthy’s Red Scares — to name just a few.

Like it or not, we are now living during a similar era of self-destructive mass delusion. When the majority is pursuing — even cheering on — behaviors that undermine its well-being. Except this time, the stakes are higher than ever; our species’ very existence is at risk.

Bizarro Economics

Evidence that the economy is sliding into recession continues to mount.

GDP is slowing. Earnings warnings issued by publicly-traded companies are at a 13-year high. The most reliable recession predictor of the past 50 years, an inverted US Treasury curve, has been in place for the past quarter.

Yet the major stock indices hit all-time highs earlier this week. And every one of the 38 assets in the broad-based asset basket tracked by Deutsche Bank was up for the month of June — something that has never happened in the 150 years prior to 2019.

It has become all-too clear that markets today are no longer driven by business fundamentals. Only central bank-provided liquidity matters. As long as the flood of cheap credit continues to flow (via rock-bottom/negative interest rates and purchase programs), keeping cash-destroying companies alive and enabling record share buybacks, all boats will rise.

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

Shale oil and gas: Destroying capital one well at a time

Shale oil and gas: Destroying capital one well at a time

Recently, the former CEO of the largest shale gas producer in the United States told a roomful of conference goers what any competent financial analysis would have revealed many years ago: the shale oil and gas industry as a whole has been destroying capital since its inception.

“The fact is that every time they put the drill bit to the ground, they erode the value of the billions of dollars of previous investments they have made,” said Steve Schlotterbeck, former head of natural gas behemoth EQT, at a petrochemical industry conference. “It’s frankly no wonder that their equity valuations continue to fall dramatically.”

But, the real news here is not that the shale oil and gas industry has from its beginning been destroying capital one well at a time. It’s that a major industry insider freed from the constraints of his former job has admitted it.

Schlotterbeck calculates that the industry as a whole has destroyed 80 percent of its value since 2008. It turns out that the so-called shale revolution is a revolution as much in investor stupidity as it is in technology, a technology that can’t seem to produce actual industry profits. The former CEO added that there have been 172 bankruptcies among exploration and production companies engaged in the shale oil and gas business just since 2015.

Now the significance of this message is as much where it was said as who said it. Schlotterbeck was addressing attendees of the Northeast Petrochemical Exhibition & Conference in Pittsburgh in mid-June. The predominant buzz at the conference was a plan to turn Pennsylvania and Ohio, which sit above large shale gas resources, into a petrochemical and plastics center similar that which exists on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

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

TROUBLE AT THE BAKKEN: Oil Production Finally Peaking?

TROUBLE AT THE BAKKEN: Oil Production Finally Peaking?

Is the mighty Bakken Shale Oil Field finally peaking?  Well, according to the data from the folks at the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, oil production in the Bakken has been flat for the past six months.  And, to make matters worse, production has been flat even though oil prices increased from a low of $42 in January to the mid $60’s in April.

So, something seriously wrong is going on in North Dakota.  What a difference in the Bakken’s recent oil supply compared to the field’s heyday when production surged from 300,000 barrels per day in 2011 to over 1.1 million barrels per day in 2014.  Furthermore, the oil price the shale companies in the Bakken are receiving is now $48 a barrel versus the West Texas Intermediate price of $57.

If we look at the past seven months, the North Dakota Bakken has only added 36,000 barrels per day (bd) of new oil production compared to 114,000 bd during the same period last year:

As we can see in the chart above, the output from Sep 2017 to Apr 2018 enjoyed an upward trend, while the Sep 2018-Apr 2019 has been flat.  You can see this better in Enno Peters chart from ShaleProfile.com.  I highly recommend followers check out his site as he provides updates on the top shale oil and gas fields in the United States using state data from over 100,000 wells.

These charts from ShaleProfile.com show the annual change production by different colors.  Here we can see that Bakken oil production increased steadily from 2011 to 2014, plateaued in late 2014 and 2015, declined in 2016, raised in 2017-2018, and has plateaued once again in 2019. The likely culprit for the plateau in Bakken oil production has to do with the lower oil price and the reduction of investment funds available to the shale companies that continue to spend more money than they make.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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