Posts tagged “crude oil prices”
As I have done for several years now, I like to close out the year by highlighting the top stories in the energy sector.
The 2015 list was challenging, because so many of the stories are interrelated. Commodity prices continued to plummet, but oil, natural gas, and coal prices fell for somewhat different reasons. This of course resulted in the lowest gasoline prices in years, which was itself a big story.
A crude oil export ban that I believed would stick around for years was repealed, yet it’s part of a spending bill that also extended tax credits for renewable energy. So is the story the spending bill, or its particular provisions? These were the challenges I had to sort out.
The rankings are somewhat arbitrary. This year there wasn’t an energy news event as dramatic as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, or the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011. Here is the list I settled on. CONTINUE»
Why Make Predictions?
While there are actually other stories unfolding in the world of energy, you would never know that by my inbox. Most of the correspondence I have received in the past week is still related to oil prices, particularly following the recent huge rally in crude futures. A few readers also wanted to make sure that I noticed that one of my 2015 predictions had fallen last week. I will address that in today’s column.
For background, each year in January I make predictions for the upcoming year, and I provide the context for those predictions. (See My 2015 Energy Predictions). I have been doing this for several years, and at the end of each year I grade my predictions. As I have stated on many occasions, context around a prediction can be more important than the prediction itself. When I grade the predictions, I will talk about the context when I made each prediction, and the reasons the predictions turned out to be right or wrong.
But one reader asked why I would even attempt to make predictions given such uncertain conditions. I make predictions to set up a narrative that describes what I see unfolding in the energy sector, incorporating as much data as I can into making each prediction. While this is not an investment column, I am aware that some readers use it for investment advice. So without overtly recommending investments, I generally try to make predictions that are actionable. I will give 2 examples of that today, one of which is the prediction that failed last week. CONTINUE»
This week BP (NYSE: BP) released their Statistical Review of World Energy 2014. This is always a big event for energy wonks, and as always I will break it down in a series of articles. My goal is always to flesh out important tidbits that were perhaps overlooked by the media. Here are some of the major findings from this year’s release that have been reported. In 2013:
- US oil production had the largest increase in the country’s history
- US oil demand grew at a faster pace last year than China’s, although China’s overall energy demand grew faster
- Asia increased solar output last year more than Europe for the first time ever
- Emerging economies accounted for 80% of energy consumption growth
- Global oil production rose to a new all-time high
In one of those overlooked tidbits I like to point out, while global oil production did indeed set a new record — rising in 2013 by 557,000 barrels per day (bpd) over 2012 — without the US increase of 1.1 million bpd, global production would have declined by 554,000 bpd. But I will take a deeper dive into that starting next week. Today I want to talk about Iraq.
Or, more precisely the impact the unfolding events in Iraq have had on the global oil markets, and more specifically how those oil markets actually work. I had an interesting discussion with someone last week, after a remark was made about oil companies using any excuse — like potential supply disruptions in Iraq — to immediately jack up oil prices. CONTINUE»
On May 3rd I will be delivering a talk called Moving Beyond Oil Dependence as a part of UC Santa Barbara’s Spring 2012 Chemical Engineering Seminar Series. The talk will roughly follow the outline of my book, and I have used several graphics from the book in the presentation.
However, I created a couple of graphics specifically for this presentation that I believe explain the majority of the oil price escalation over the past decade. True, part of the price rise may be due to speculation, but the following two graphics show just how robust demand has been even in the face of $100 oil. The data source for both graphics is the 2011 BP Statistical Review of World Energy:
The reason that oil company profits are so volatile is that sometimes the price of oil becomes pretty disconnected from the cost to produce it and convert it into finished products. This is because oil is a globally traded commodity, and like other commodities such as corn, iron, and pork bellies, the price is set by how much people are willing to pay for it. This is an important point that is often lost on people who seem to believe that commodities are priced the way Ford prices trucks: Determine the cost of production and a return on the investment, and you arrive at a price. Unlike most trucks, a barrel of oil may see its price change dramatically without… Continue»