EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2010: Peak what?

Peak What? Eamon Keane The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its Annual Energy Outlook 2010 (AEO 2010) last week, with projections out to 2035. It makes for interesting reading. Most notable was its take on peak oil, natural gas vehicles and on converting natural gas to liquids (GTL). An otherwise reasonable report was marred by the presumption of oil plenty. Figure 1 shows a graph presented (.pdf) by Glen Sweetnam, director of the EIA's International, Economic and Greenhouse Gas division, in April 2009. Although it mentions the source as being the...

Shale Gas: If this is such a good deal why are you selling it...

Jim Hansen That is the question many buyers of shale gas assets should have been asking themselves over the last few months. This week’s news that shale gas high roller Range Resource was selling its Barnett shale properties reinforced our view that there is major trouble brewing in the shale gas business. Upstreamonline reported that “…Range Resources Corporation said it will sell almost all of its Barnett shale properties to a private company for $900 million…” Then of course there is the number one shale gas play cheerleader of them all, Chesapeake Energy. Just last week they...

Peak Oil Risk in Muni Bonds

Tom Konrad CFA Bargain hunters looking for opportunities in muni bonds should be mindful of peak oil. Meredith Whitney predicts a wave of defaults in municipal (muni) bonds, followed by indiscriminate selling and potential buying opportunities for some.  She's been widely criticized for the prediction of defaults, but I'm a lot more interested in the prediction of the market's reaction.  With tax-free, AAA-rated munis currently yielding more than comparable taxable Treasury bonds, they seem at least a relative bargain already.  I would not call it outright panic, but I'd expect there are be some bargains...

Shorting Mexico’s Peak Oil Economy

Green Energy Investing for Experts, Part II Tom Konrad, CFA The next Tequila Crisis will be a peak oil crisis.  Mexico's government is dependant on revenues from declining oil fields.  The prospects for replacing these revenues look slim.  Shorting Mexico Country ETFs looks like a good way to hedge market exposure. In Green Energy Investing For Experts, Part I, I discussed why it makes sense to use companies and sectors that may be hurt by peak oil or climate change as a hedge against the market exposure in a green portfolio.  In Mexico, peak oil is already a reality. ...

What the L.A. Methane Leak Tells Us About Investing

by Garvin Jabusch Sempra Energy’s leaking gas field in Porter Ranch, CA, near Los Angeles, has been making national headlines recently, as it now enters its third month of being the largest methane leak in U.S. history. How big is that? The LA Times says that, “by early January, state air quality regulators estimate, the leak had released more than 77 million kilograms of methane, the environmental equivalent of putting 1.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in the air.” 1.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and counting. In addition, methane isn’t only a powerful greenhouse gas, it can...

Some Realism on Shale Gas

shale gas Eamon Keane shale gas shale gas Shale gas is back in the news recently after Obama hearted the shale gale in his energy speech ("Recent innovations have given us the opportunity to tap large reserves, perhaps a century's worth of reserves...in the shale under our feet,"), and Daniel Yergin (full disclosure: he wrote The Prize) has a lengthy piece in the WSJ along with an interview in which he says a bunch of stuff. It turns out that the US and...

Dipping a Toe in the Black Stuff

I was tempted by greed, and I succumbed. Last week, I bought the iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index ETN (OIL), at $19.75 a share.   The Temptation I made the trade as a simple speculation.  I watch oil because the oil price is one of the key drivers of investor interest in alternative energy, although oil is only a true competitor for biofuel companies, not producers of wind turbines (at least until there are a significant number of plug-in electric vehicles.) With crude trading below $40/barrel, oil producers are cutting back on new drilling.  This is...

Life After Coal: It’s Sooner Than You Think

by Tom Konrad, Ph.D.   A couple years ago, I began to see reports that coal supplies might not last the 200+ years we've all been lead to believe, so I wrote an article about what you could do to prepare your portfolio for Peak Coal. Now two years have passed, and Peak Coal is undeniably 2 years closer.  (Did you ever wonder why people who have been saying that we have 200 years of coal for 20 years aren't now talking about 180 years of coal?)  But more than being 2 years closer, the evidence continues to mount.  Caltech...
green swan

Green swan, Black swan: No matter as long as it reduces stranded spending

by Prashant Vaze, The Climate bonds Initiative In January, authors from several institutions under the aegis of BiS, published The Green Swan Central banking and financial stability in the age of climate change setting out their take on the epistemological foundations for, and obstacles against, central banks acting to mitigate climate change risk. The book’s early chapters provide a cogent and up-to-date analysis of climate change’s profound and irreversible impacts on ecosystems and society. The authors are critical of overly simplistic solutions such as relying on just carbon taxes. They also recognize the all-too-evident deficits in global policy to respond to the threat. In short, they accept the need for central banks to act. The Two Arguments  The paper makes two powerful arguments setting out the challenges central banks face using their usual mode of working. Firstly, climate change’s impact on financial systems is an unknowable unknown – a...

Peak Oil & Energy Efficiency In The News

A couple of interesting items in the news yesterday on topics dear to alt energy investors' hearts. Firstly, a new report (PDF document) by CIBC World Markets arguing that globalization could be reversed by high oil prices. The folks at CIBC WM contend that growing shipping costs driven by higher prices for transportation fuels could erase the Asian labor cost advantage, driving a renaissance in North America's manufacturing sector. What's the main culprit? Peak Oil, albeit not called directly Peak Oil. I watched an interview with Jeff Rubin, CIBC WM's Chief Economist, on Bloomberg's In Focus yesterday, and...

Shale Gas: Promises, Promises, Promises

Tom Konrad CFA Dr. Arthur Berman, of Labyrinth Consulting Services has taken a hard look at actual production data from  Barnett Shale in 2007.  What he found should worry anyone expecting this abundant, relatively clean, domestic energy resource to be cheap.  It should especially worry investors in shale gas companies, such as CHK, DVN, and XTO. In a panel entitled "Natural Gas Game Changers?" at the 2009 International Peak Oil Conference, Dr. Breman presented some results from his research into the actual production from the nearly 2000 horizontal gas wells drilled in the Barnett Shale in 2007.  The Oil...

Natural Gas Liquids are Following Natural Gas Off a Fracking Cliff

Tom Konrad CFA The unprecedented boom in natural gas supplies over the last few years as been one of the few tail-winds for the US economy over the last few years, as plummeting natural gas prices have lowered costs for both industry and consumers.  Few outside the natural gas industry even understood the shear scale of the shale gas resource, although industry insiders did. The Shale Gas Glut In 2008, I recall a natural gas executive complaining about how he could not get policymakers to understand the sheer scale of the shale gas resource.   To be honest, I...

Divesting: Last One Out Loses

Tom Konrad CFA Anew report written by Nathaniel Bullard at Bloomberg New Energy Finance highlights the difficulties large institutional investors would have divesting from fossil fuels. What it does not specifically discuss is that these difficulties could lead to large financial losses for investors who see the difficulty of divesting as a reason to delay. Just as we can't easily fill up our cars with solar power instead of gasoline, the report points out that there is no asset class that can directly substitute for oil and gas in large institutional portfolios. A person...

The Clean Fossil Fuel? Natural Gas Under Fire

By Christopher Mims According to some of the most complete calculations available, when we use natural gas to generate electricity in an average power plant, it results in 40 percent less warming than if we generate the same electricity with coal. If we fully utilized the natural gas-fired power plants that already exist in this country, we could significantly reduce the amount of coal we’re burning practically overnight. What’s more, primarily because of access to new natural gas reserves, proved reserves of natural gas recently shot up to 284 trillion cubic feet – more than we’ve...

Crude Oil & Alt Energy: The Non-Relationship That Just Won’t Go Away

Charles Morand The relationship - or lack thereof - between oil prices and the performance of alt energy stocks has been a long-time interest of mine. I discussed it last in late March when I looked at correlations between the daily returns of alt energy and fossil energy ETFs. At the time, I found that only a weak relationship existed between the two and that if someone wanted to make a thematic investment play on Peak Oil, alt energy ETFs were not an ideal way to do so.  Seeing as the popular press and countless "experts"...
low-sulfur Diesel Crisis

The Low Sulfur Diesel Crisis of 2020 And How To Prevent It

“The global economy likely faces an economic crash of horrible proportions in 2020, not for want of a nail but want of low-sulfur diesel fuel,” writes renowned energy analyst Phil Verleger in a note this month titled “$200 Crude, the Economic Crisis of 2020, and Policies to Prevent Catastrophe”. Not good timing for a White House re-election effort if, as expected, the blame falls on lack of preparedness in the 2017-2020 run-up to the projected crisis.. It’s a dire scenario but there’s hard data behind it, and though few go as far as Verleger, almost every expert is warning of a...
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