A second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is tearing its way through Europe and there is no question whether or not the rest of the world will eventually follow. The surge in coronavirus cases in many major developed oil-consuming economies has rekindled fears that oil demand recovery is again off track, and market balancing is still further away. Luckily, those fears are misplaced as a second wave of shutdowns may not take as large of a dent out of global demand as individuals have begun to resume their day to day lives. Therefore, global oil demand recovery will not be derailed as fear of the virus is likely not going to keep people locked up anymore.
Falling oil prices and a surge in green energy policies have breathed new life into an old idea: to nationalize the fossil fuel industry. The problem is, nationalizing oil and gas would be a radical step, and alone it would not be enough to deliver a comprehensive energy transition that can meet climate goals as well as the social objectives of the Green New Deal. While calls have been made to nationalize oil and gas development in the U.S., the inefficiency of government oversight cannot do a better job than private enterprise at developing and managing these natural resources.
The price spread between the world’s most traded crude oil blends and the most actively traded commodities in the world generally track one another, but divergences often reflect technical, supply/demand, or geopolitical issues. Over the course of history, the spread between Brent crude and WTI blends has grown, shrunk, crossed paths, and reversed again countless times. As a result of reduced U.S. pipeline constraints, ongoing OPEC+ production cuts, and China purchasing record amounts of WTI crude oil, the spread between Brent and WTI crude oil prices has begun to shrink close to zero. The future may hold a reversal giving WTI prices the upper hand.
Crude oil prices are ridiculously cheap when compared to the cost of other commodities and equities. For the industry to survive and provide the world with its most important commodity, the price of crude oil must increase dramatically in the near future to break out of the lower tercile historical range it has been caught in since the start of 2020. Another two years of “lower for longer” can only exist if other asset bases devalue themselves to close the gap between crude. A more likely scenario is the positive feedback loop of reduced investment and tightening supply will cause a violent movement upwards for the intrinsic value of oil.
When the coronavirus pandemic destroyed global crude oil demand, supply was slow to respond until dramatic actions were taken. Now, with demand picking up at a rapid rate, supply is again being outpaced by its counterpart drawing down crude oil inventories around the world. While global forecasting agencies and oil companies alike predict slow demand growth to pre-pandemic levels, the supply picture will continue to lag behind well into the foreseeable future.
COVID-19’s impact on the aviation industry has been significant, but the decrease in demand for jet fuel is a only drop in the crude oil bucket. With the media focusing so much of their attention on jet fuel decimation, market participants are associating this fact to the overall global demand picture. Until the media’s portrayal of oversupply in processed aviation fuels is corrected, the negative demand outlook for the oil industry as a whole cannot be fixed.
As crude oil demand was decimated at the start of the global coronavirus pandemic, storage around the world began to rapidly fill causing commodity prices to tank. The supply and demand imbalance was corrected when producers came together to make global production cuts thus stabilizing prices. When economies began to restart and consumers began to leave their homes, demand started to climb to outpace supply. As storage levels began to fall, prices remained constant but when there was a tiny inventory build at the beginning of September, prices went into a freefall highlighting the growing disconnect between free market principles of supply and demand and emotion driving the actual price of crude oil. Instead of following commodity principles, pricing has become largely influenced by market sentiment.
A growing distaste for the oil industry among potential young employees, combined with the economic crisis of the pandemic, is making it difficult to attract the talent of the future. This growing perception problem of hydrocarbon based energy is causing young and experienced individuals alike to leave the industry in pursuit of different careers. The boom and bust nature of oil in addition to pandemic related layoffs have made it difficult to attract and maintain the talent and experience that has pushed the industry to new heights. If oil and gas companies don’t start taking perception related issues seriously, they will find themselves in a experience vacuum that stagnate any progress into the future.
The process of bringing two companies under a single roof can send an organization to new heights but also has the potential for rocky transitions. In the oil and gas industry, E&P mergers or acquisitions tend to strengthen physical positioning and induce an expanded asset portfolio but it often comes with extra baggage in the form of outstanding debt. Such was the case when Occidental Petroleum acquired Anadarko Petroleum as the outstanding debt left the oil major struggling to keep their head above water. By investigating the acquisition process as a case study, analysis can be made regarding Chevron’s new acquisition of Noble and whether or not the merger can be considered a success.
California’s aggressive climate policies are the leading issue that led to millions of customers experiencing rolling blackouts in mid-August. The state was unable to maintain sufficient reliable power due to an over-reliance on a renewable grid incapable of providing enough electricity for demand at peak hours after the sun went down. Clearly California, much like the rest of the United States, is not ready to maintain its current goal of 33% renewable electricity by the end of 2020, let alone a total shift to renewable energy sources in the near future.
Pipelines transporting crude oil, natural gas, and refined products have been a controversial topic for lawmakers, environmental groups, and energy producers throughout the last decade. Since pipelines are the cleanest and safest method of transporting hydrocarbons, the logic behind these protests remains lost on many individuals. But, what the general public must understand is that many protesters are not necessarily trying to shut down pipelines, they are trying to eliminate the use of fossil fuels and force an immediate shift to renewable energy.
Policy changes and regulation on domestic oil and gas activities have been enacted to ensure the oil and gas industry responsibly produces hydrocarbons while protecting both individual and environmental health and safety. Unfortunately, many recent changes to national or state level policies have hampered the advancement of the industry under the guise of public and environmental health and safety without foundational justification. In order to ensure the survival of a key pillar that supports the domestic economy as a whole, the true purpose of these policies must go hand in hand with the advancement of the industry without unjust hindrance.
The extraordinary growth in solar energy has been stopped in its tracks as a result of the global pandemic. Many new projects that would have made 2020 the largest growth year for the sector to date have been put on hold for the foreseeable future. Luckily, the stalled growth of the solar sector is just that – projects have simply been put on hold. As the world transitions to a new post-pandemic society, growth in solar power generation will resume its upward trajectory. While two decades of growth in the solar energy sector has been stunted by the coronavirus pandemic, the outlook for the future remains positive.
Instead of a push towards renewable energy, the world should be focused on a push towards clean energy. Those two terms are often used interchangeably especially when green energy advocacy groups are pressuring policymakers to campaign for the use of wind, solar, and electric vehicles. But as the world pushes towards clean energy during the green revolution and begins the transition to renewables, we must ask ourselves: with the shift away from fossil fuels, what is the true cost of clean, green, renewable energy?
The cost to produce a barrel of oil varies throughout the world and impacts the determination of global benchmark prices. If only a portion of global supply is economic at current commodity prices, global demand will be what influences the price floor. Once inventories are drawn down, supply/demand economics will drive up the price of oil to ensure supply can meet demand. Be sure to check out the periodical below for an in depth analysis of the economic price to produce a barrel of oil around the world, and why global demand will be the driver for oil prices to set a $55-60/bbl floor for the foreseeable future.
At the end of March during the peak of the pandemic, the Federal Reserve was authorized to buy tens of billions of dollars in corporate bonds from the energy industry. These actions, paired with those taken by the Federal Government to save the oil and gas industry, were met with harsh criticism because the industry was struggling long before the global pandemic and seemed to simply be delaying the inevitable.
Hydrocarbons are the largest global energy source, and demand for them has been growing rapidly in the past decade. Unfortunately, that progress was stunted with the recent global pandemic that shut down economies and societies worldwide. As the world recovers from the coronavirus, hydrocarbons will be in high demand in order to fuel the progress of the human race. The final piece of our four part series on post-COVID oil demand will investigate the overall change in global oil demand in a post-COVID world.
Transportation allows people and ideas to move from place to place and is the backbone for advancing society. Unfortunately, the global pandemic has hindered the movement of people in the first half of 2020. As individuals begin to venture back out into the world, the transportation sector, and by association the consumption of hydrocarbons that fuel these vehicles, will be completely changed. Fear and social distancing guidelines will force individuals away from mass transit. Reduced options and capacity will force individuals away from air travel. Both will result in increased personal vehicle travel well into the future. Part three of our four part series on post-COVID oil demand will investigate the change in global oil demand for fuel used in personal transportation.
The coronavirus pandemic has ushered in a new age and as the world begins to adjust to the new normal, demand for commodities like oil and natural gas has and will continue to change. Due to lockdown orders and social distancing guidelines, many individuals altered their in person shopping habits to online ordering. As a result, the freight industry has been able to remain busy during the pandemic ensuring goods reach their final destination in a timely manner. This demand does not appear to be going away anytime soon. Part two of our four part series on post-COVID oil demand will investigate the change in global oil demand for fuel used in freight transportation.
The coronavirus pandemic has ushered in a new age and as the world begins to adjust to the new normal, demand for commodities like oil and natural gas has and will continue to change. While individuals may not be traveling via airplane or driving their cars as much as before the pandemic, there are many goods and materials created from hydrocarbons that will continue to be a necessary staple for the reestablishment of a healthy global economy. Part one of our four part series on Post-COVID oil demand will investigate the change in global oil demand for petrochemicals and construction materials.