Peak Oil Review 4 March 2019

March 4, 2019

Editors:   Tom Whipple, Steve Andrews

Quote of the Week

“The once-powerful partnership between fracking companies and Wall Street is fraying as the industry struggles to attract investors after nearly a decade of losing money.  Frequent infusions of Wall Street capital have sustained the US shale boom. But that largess is running out. New bond and equity deals have dwindled to the lowest level since 2007. Companies raised about $22 billion from equity and debt financing in 2018, less than half the total in 2016 and almost one-third of what they raised in 2012.
Bradley Olson and Rebecca Elliott, Wall Street Journal, 2/24/19

Graphics of the Week

From Ron Patterson’s web site Peak Oil Barrel

1.  Oil and the Global Economy

The struggle between lower crude output and the prospects for a global economic setback that could reduce the demand for oil continued last week.  Prices rose on bullish news early in the week and then fell to close only slightly higher for the week at $55.80 in New York and $65.07 in London.  Most analysts are predicting that oil prices will continue to rise as the case for lower production later this year seems stronger than the case for lower demand.

For some time now analysts have been noting that for the last few years, global oil production outside of the US has been generally stagnant. (Note the trailing average in the graphic above) While oil prices have varied during this period, they have not spiked due to the spectacular increase in US shale oil production.  In recent years the demand for oil  has been increasing at about 1.5 million b/d each year which has been satisfied by US production.  Unless there is a global economic recession or a substantial increase in oil prices, demand for oil seems destined to continue increasing for the foreseeable future despite growing concerns about carbon emissions.

Currently, there is no evidence that a spectacular jump in global oil production is in the offing and new oil discoveries remain well below the world’s annual oil consumption of some 36 billion barrels per year.

Leaving aside the concerns about carbon emissions, the heart of the global oil availability issue in the immediate future seems to center on whether US shale oil production can keep growing. The government and the oil industry say that it can; qualified outside observers say it is highly unlikely that it will.  We are likely to be entering a period of considerable uncertainty and volatility of oil prices.

The OPEC Production Cut:  The cartel’s production fell to 30.68 million b/d in February, a four-year low, as Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies over-delivered on the group’s supply agreement while Venezuelan output continued to decline, and 300,000 b/d remain offline in Libya.   The drop came despite criticism from President Trump, who on Monday tweeted a call for the group to ease its efforts to boost prices, saying they were “getting too high.”  These figures are from a Reuters survey as OPEC will not release its official data for February production until March 14th.

The most significant drop in supply came from Saudi Arabia, which pumped 130,000 b/d less than in January.  Saudi supplies had hit a record 11 million b/d in November after Trump demanded more oil be pumped to curb rising prices and make up for losses from Iran.  OPEC and the kingdom then changed course as prices slid on the prospect of oversupply in 2019.

The Saudis have already signaled that they plan to cut production further to around 9.8 million b/d in March, some 500,000 b/d below its commitment in the OPEC+ deal. Energy Minister al-Falih said last month that Saudi Arabia also would be cutting its crude oil exports to near 6.9 million b/d this month, down from 8.2 million just three months ago.

Al-Falih’s comments suggest that OPEC will not back down in the face of pressure from Washington.  The standoff with the Saudis is coming at a time when the US Congress is pushing forward on the “NOPEC” legislation, which would open up OPEC members to antitrust regulation by the US Justice Department.  A confluence of events has come together in favor of the bill, including a President who used to beat up on OPEC.

However, US Energy Secretary Perry said Thursday that anti-OPEC legislation under consideration in Congress could lead to an oil price spike by preventing the world’s producers from managing supply.  Perry essentially defended OPEC’s role of balancing oil supplies and delivered a critique of the proposed bill for which President Trump has repeatedly expressed support, although not since taking office.

US Shale Oil Production: America’s crude oil production will keep setting annual records until 2027 and will remain higher than 14 million b/d through 2040, thanks to continuously growing shale production, according to the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2019.  This projection is very optimistic and does not square with what outside observers are saying about the long-term prospects for shale oil production.

US crude production edged lower in December to 11.85 million b/d, posting its first official decline since May, according to the EIA’s monthly report issued on Thursday.  Production fell 56,000 b/d from a record 11.91 million in November.  While output rose by 53,000 b/d in Texas and North Dakota, the gains were offset by a production decline of 125,000 b/d in the Gulf of Mexico.  Production numbers from the EIA’s monthly report,which are delayed by two months,  are considered to be more accurate than the EIA’s weekly estimates.

The EIA’s weekly production estimates, however, continue to express optimism with the latest release saying that US crude oil production rose 100,000 b/d the week before last to a record 12.1 million b/d.  This forecast comes despite a harsh winter in North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield which is likely to see a decline in production during the winter due to the extreme cold.  Some analysts are saying that while total US shale oil production is still snowballing, it could well flatten out by mid-year.

The US oil rig count has been dropping of late due to decisions made several months ago. The US rig count is already in decline.  Total oil rigs are stood at 853 for the week ending on February 22, down from a peak of 888 in November.  In particular, the Permian –on which most of the hope for the shale oil industry rests – has seen the rig count decline to a nine-month low.

Moreover, the industry is awash in stories of cutbacks in capital spending due to the need to show bankers and investors a real profit rather than just deficit-financed production gains. Several firms, however, are saying that they will be able to increase production despite less capital spending this year due to “efficiencies.”  Some observers are skeptical, as most of the technical “efficiencies” gained from longer laterals and the use of more fracking sand have already been realized.  One “efficiency” that seems to be real is the squeezing of the oil service companies by drillers.

One unknown in the future of shale oil production is the increasing share of output that is coming from the major oil companies, particularly in the Permian Basin.

Companies such as Exxon and Chevron do not need to make a profit on every well drilled and can finance their drilling from the profits of conventional production.  These companies can profit from the scale of their operations, refining, transporting, and marketing any shale oil they produce and are not dependent on selling crude at market rates.  Chevron, which increased its Permian production to 377,000 b/d in the fourth quarter, is expressing much optimism about the future of shale oil and says it will be profitable in 2020 – implying that it will lose money this year.

A recent study found that a group of 32 mid-sized drillers spent nearly $1 billion more on drilling and related capital expenditures during the third quarter of 2018 than they generated in sales.  This is notable because selling prices were higher last summer than currently.  As few small and mid-sized drillers have ever made any money from drilling operations, it will be interesting to see how the large oil companies do in the next few years.   The future of global oil production may hang on this question for if the shale oil boom fizzles from the lack of profitability, global oil production may peak soon thereafter.

2.  The Middle East & North Africa

Iran:  Asia’s crude oil imports from Iran slipped in January to the lowest in two months after China and India slowed purchases and as Japan recorded zero imports for a third month.  However, in February, Japanese buyers were back in the market to buy as much Iranian crude as they can before the US sanction waivers close in May.  Cosmo Oil has ordered a cargo of 900,000 barrels of Iranian heavy crude for March delivery and this will likely be the last cargo of Iranian crude to be shipped to Japan.  Asia’s top four buyers of Iranian oil – China, India, Japan, and South Korea – imported a total 710,699 b/d of Iranian crude in January, 49 percent lower than the same month in 2018.

Two days after saying he intended to step down, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Zarif, returned to his post after President Rouhani rejected the resignation.  Zarif has been Iran’s public face and brokered the deal curtailing Iran’s nuclear program.   After President Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal last year Zarif lost standing with Iran’s leadership, and he was relegated to the sidelines.  Given his good relationship with most of the world’s leaders, the government likely realizes that they may need his skills to help negotiate the hard times ahead.

Iraq: Last week the Kurds resumed trading crude and fuels across the border with Iran. This trade was halted at Washington’s request as part of the sanctions on Iran.  After receiving a new order from the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources on Feb. 20, border officials at the three main crossing points between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran began letting tanker trucks through.

The Bashiqa exploration block – which straddles the line between the autonomous Kurdistan region and the rest of Iraq –is fraught with political and geological problems.  ExxonMobil sold half of its stake in the project in 2017, and now, Norway’s DNO has taken over as operator, under a contract with the Kurds.  This action will likely set off another round of problems with Baghdad.

Saudi Arabia: Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Wednesday that he was leaning toward an extension of the OPEC+ production cuts after June, although he noted that the producer group would take a measured approach not to tighten the oil market too much.  President Trump tweeted last Monday his latest criticism of OPEC’s cuts aimed at rebalancing the market and lifting prices.  The tweet sent oil prices tumbling by more than 2 percent on Monday, but a surprise draw in crude oil inventory of 4.2 million barrels as reported by the API lifted prices again.

Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports to the US are falling sharply, with shipments in February at just 1.6 million barrels versus 5.75 million barrels a year ago.  For January, Saudi Arabia exported just 2.69 million barrels of crude to the United States.  The decline follows Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut its crude oil production—primarily heavy grades of oil —by more than it agreed to at the December OPEC+ meeting as it seeks higher oil prices.

Aramco aims to export as much as 3 billion cubic feet of gas per day by 2030, Amin Nasser, the company’s CEO, said on Tuesday. Aramco will solely develop the kingdom’s conventional and unconventional gas reserves and will control exports via pipelines and LNG tankers.

Last week, in a speech at the International Petroleum Week in London, Nasser rebuked all those who predict the demise of the oil industry in the near future, saying that those claiming that the world will soon run on anything but oil “are not based on logic and facts, and are formed mostly in response to pressure and hype.” “While most forecasts see peak oil demand at some point in the 2030s, the oil industry still sees itself as being relevant for decades to come.”

Libya:  Workers at Libya’s El Sharara oilfield are ready to resume production with an initial output of 80,000 b/d but are still waiting for approval from the state oil firm, a field engineer and trader said on Wednesday. “There is no technical obstacle to the restart of production. The issue is security,” a NOC spokesman said.

At least 19 people were killed during the fighting in southern Libya, according to a member of parliament, as forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar fought for control of oilfields in the region.  Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) killed civilians, including children, and set fire to more than 30 houses in the southern city of Murzuq.  The member of parliament from the region claims that farms were also destroyed, and more than 100 cars were stolen.  The battle for Murzuq, a city 900km south of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, was the first battle for a city fought by the LNA since it started a campaign to take control of oilfields in the south a month ago.

If these claims of extensive fighting are true, it would explain why it is taking so long to resume production from the 300,000 b/d oilfield.  Libya’s state-run National Oil Corp announced last week that its chairman, Mustafa Sanalla, traveled to the United Arab Emirates to meet with a number of Libyan and international parties to discuss the Sharara oilfield crisis.

3.  China

The Xinhua news agency reports that China has found “massive” shale oil reserves in the northern Tianjin municipality.  Two wells at a field have been flowing for more than 260 days, according to Dagang Oilfield, a subsidiary of state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).  According to the state company, the newly found shale reserves will help boost China’s national energy security and economic development. As part of a government push to expand domestic energy supply, CNPC and Sinopec are raising investments to increase local oil and gas production and are increasing drilling at tight oil and gas formations in western China.  The Chinese have been looking for shale oil and gas fields similar to those that have revolutionized US oil and gas production for the last ten years – with little success.  After years of exploring for commercial tight oil deposits, it seems doubtful that any on the scale found in the US or possibly Argentina will be found in China.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping recently told a national gathering of senior party officials that the country faces significant risks on all fronts.  Whether dealing with foreign policy, trade, unemployment, or property prices, he declared, officials would be held responsible if they slipped up and let dangers spiral into real threats.  The speech, which was one of Mr. Xi’s starkest warnings since he came to power in 2012, underscores how slowing growth and China’s grinding trade fight with the United States have magnified the party leadership’s deep-seated fears of social unrest.

China imported 9.8 million tons of natural gas in January, up 6.2 percent from December, and 26.8 percent year on year, according to the General Administration of Customs.  China imported 6.58 million tons of LNG in January, up 4.6% month on month, and increased 27.8 percent year on year, and 3.23 million tons of natural gas via pipeline in January, up 9.7 percent month on month and 24.8 percent year on year.  Australia was the biggest supplier of natural gas to China in January at 2.34 million tons, followed by Turkmenistan at 2.25 million tons and Qatar at 1.40 million tons.

China is about to announce the creation of a state-held oil and gas pipeline company combining the assets of national firms.  Such a firm would allow energy companies to focus on boosting exploration and production rather than worrying about distribution.  China’s National Development and Reform Commission —the economic planning body—has already approved the plan, while the State Council has yet to issue final approval.  A national pipeline firm would be the most significant energy ‘reform’ in China since 1998 when the country restructured its oil and gas sector.

China’s coal consumption rose for the second year in a row in 2018, but coal’s share of total energy consumption fell below 60 percent for the first time as cleaner energy sources gained ground.  The world’s biggest coal consumer used 1 percent more coal in absolute terms last year than in 2017, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said in an annual communique.  Coal consumption had risen for the first time in four years in 2017.  This increase is not good news for efforts to control carbon emissions which all projections show rising in future years despite the UN agreements to cut carbon emissions.

An oil tanker carrying US crude oil is offloading its cargo at a Chinese port on Friday, marking China’s first import from the United States since late November, according to trade sources and Refinitiv data.  Trade tensions between the United States and China cut US oil exports to Asia to a trickle in the second half of last year.  No US crude volumes were recorded going into China during October, December, and January, according to China customs.  President Trump asked China in a tweet on Friday to lift all of its tariffs on American agricultural products, pointing to his decision to delay the second round of tariffs and to improving trade relations with China.

4. Russia

Russian oil output was 11.34 million b/d in February, down some 75,000 from the October level, its baseline for the OPEC+ production cut.  This production level was down from 11.38 million bpd in January.   All the Russian majors reduced their output. Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft and No.2 Russian oil company, Lukoil, cut their output by 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent month-on-month, respectively.  Production at Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of gas giant Gazprom, was down by 1.9 percent.

Russia’s energy ministry met with domestic oil companies on March 1 to discuss the deal between OPEC and other leading global oil producers to reduce production.  A Gulf OPEC source said that OPEC and its allies would stick with their agreement to cut oil supply, pushing for more adherence despite a demand by US President Donald Trump that the producer group eases its efforts to boost crude prices.

5. Nigeria

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari won a second term as the chief executive of Africa’s largest economy and top oil producer.  However, the former general now faces a dizzying array of challenges including a divided population, moribund economy and a rejuvenated Islamist insurgency.  Nigeria’s electoral commission reported that Buhari beat his opponent, Atiku Abubakar by a margin of four million votes, 15.2 million vs. 11.3 million, in an election marred by delays, ballot manipulations, and violence that left 39 people dead.  However, no independent observer has reported electoral fraud.  Turnout was a record low at just 35.6 percent.  Atiku Abubakar criticized what he called a “sham election” and has vowed to go to court.

In an effort to help out its fiscal situation in a time of low oil prices, Nigeria is seeking nearly $20 billion from international oil majors in back taxes.  The government has asked Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, Eni, and Equinor to pay from $2 billion to $5 billion each.  So far Shell has said that the country’s tax claims lacked merit and could see the Final Investment Decision on Bonga South West 200,000 b/d oil project slip into 2020 from 2019 while the claim is disputed. Underpayment of taxes and theft of oil through accounting fraud by the international oil companies is a frequent theme in Nigerian political discourse.

For example, a recent report claims that Nigeria’s oil and gas sector is responsible for 92.9 percent of illicit financial flows out of the country of over $217.7 billion between 1970 and 2008.  Illegal money sometimes flows into Nigeria.  Shell is facing prosecution from the Dutch authorities over its acquisition of an offshore oil and gas block in Nigeria a few years ago. The Anglo-Dutch firm is already a defendant in a trial for the same deal in Italy.  The 2011 acquisition of block OPL 245 in Nigeria by Shell and Eni, according to Italian and Nigerian prosecutors, involved a transfer of money to personal accounts held by the Nigerian oil minister at the time.  The official, Dan Etete, was later convicted of money laundering by a French court in a separate, unrelated case.

Nigeria does not seem to be taking its OPEC production cut pledge very seriously. The national oil company announced last week that production from the recently started Egina deepwater field would remain outside Nigeria’s commitment to OPEC’s production cuts.  Nigeria, which currently produces around 1.8 million b/d of crude oil and another 400,000 b/d of condensate, is due to cut by about 40,000 b/d at the same time it is increasing production from its new 200,000 b/d field.  It seems as if the only way Nigeria will be adhering to its share of the production cut will come if the Nigeria Delta Avengers stick to their pledge to start blowing up oil facilities in the Delta.

There may be yet another gasoline shortage soon. The National Petroleum Corporation says that Nigerians consume an average of 333,000 b/d of gasoline daily. Only one tanker carrying gasoline is due into Nigeria in the next two weeks.

6. Venezuela

It was relatively peaceful in Venezuela last week as the fighting over allowing food supplies building up at the borders is on hold.  Moscow announced that it is helping Venezuela with shipments of wheat as the government is not letting other humanitarian aid into the country.  The United States announced new sanctions against Venezuelan government officials last week as tensions in the country continue to escalate. The latest sanctions, against four governors close to President Nicolas Maduro, came after clashes at the border prevented humanitarian aid from entering Venezuela.  Vice President Mike Pence had called on the Lima Group—a group of governments trying to resolve the Venezuelan crisis peacefully—to increase pressure on the Maduro government by seizing PDVSA assets as well as other government-owned assets of Venezuela and transfer the ownership to Juan Guaido’s interim government from the Venezuelan opposition.

Citgo is formally cutting ties with its parent company PDVSA, to avoid running afoul of US sanctions on PDVSA and to keep Citgo’s refineries and pipeline systems in operation.

Venezuela has shifted some of its crude exports from American refiners to India and Europe, according to the country’s oil minister and ship-tracking firms.  However, it will difficult for the Maduro government to generate a profit from these sales.  Since late January, the regime’s oil exports have come under US restrictions aimed at redirecting crude revenue to opposition leader Juan Guaidó, whom the US recognizes as the country’s legitimate president.  China’s crude imports from Venezuela surged 50.7 percent month on month to 411,000 b/d in January, posting the fifth month in a row of increases after hitting a four-year low last September.  In the past, shipments to China did not generate any revenue as they were going to pay off past loans.  It is likely that China is suspending loan payoff as without some revenue from this oil Caracas would have little with which to pay for food imports.

7. Mexico

State oil company Pemex said last week that its losses narrowed in 2018, helped by currency exchange gains as crude production and refining rates continued to decline.  Mexico’s largest company still reported a loss of $7.6 billion in 2018, down by nearly half from losses of about $14.3 billion the previous year, according to a filing with the Mexican stock exchange.  The company posted a $6.4 billion loss in the fourth quarter and is facing mounting scrutiny from investors after its credit rating was cut by Fitch Ratings in late January to one notch above junk status.

Mexico’s central bank on Wednesday cut its economic growth forecasts for this year and next, pointing to the risk of rating downgrades to the country and state-run oil firm Pemex.  In a quarterly report, the bank lowered its Mexican growth forecast to between 1.1 percent and 2.1 percent for 2019 and between 1.7 percent and 2.7 percent for 2020, echoing increasing skepticism among private-sector economists on the outlook.

Auctions scheduled later this year to pick joint venture partners for Pemex will proceed, an official at the national oil regulator said on Thursday, despite the president’s apparent cancellation of the tie-ups.

The equivalent of 1,145 truckloads of oil is stolen in Mexico per day from Pemex. That’s $7.4 billion in lost revenue since 2016 – a significant hit for a country where 3.8 percent of GDP comes from oil exports.

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8.  The Briefs (selections from the press – date of article in Peak Oil News is in parentheses – see more here:

BP on US oil market:  The US shale industry responds only to oil price signals and is like “a market without a brain,” BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley said on Tuesday. He stated that unlike Saudi Arabia and Russia, which adjust their output in response to gluts or shortages in oil supplies, the US shale market responds purely to oil prices. (2/27)

Global oil and gas companies are increasingly facing an uphill battle as global warming policies are taking their toll. Most analysts and market watchers are focusing on peak oil demand scenarios, but the reality could be much darker. International oil companies are likely to face a Black Swan scenario, which could end up being a boon for state-owned oil companies. Increased shareholder activism, combined with global warming policies of institutional investors and NGOs, are pushing IOCs in a corner, constricting financing options for oil companies. (2/25)

Exxon’s climate pushback: Exxon is trying to block an investor initiative seeking to force the supermajor to commit to a reduction in harmful emissions, especially carbon emissions. Exxon calls the investor initiative misleading and saying it was trying to “micro-manage” the business. The investors are the endowment fund of the Church of England and the New York State pension fund. (2/26)

Global liquefied natural gas trade will rise 11 percent to 354 million tons this year as new facilities increase supplies to Europe and Asia, Royal Dutch Shell said in an annual LNG report on Monday. Shell, the largest buyer and seller of LNG in the world, said trade rose by 27 million tons last year, with Chinese demand growth accounting for 16 million tons of those volumes. (2/25)

Offshore Cyprus, ExxonMobil added another giant gas discovery to the east Mediterranean region after finding a gas-bearing reservoir, but infrastructure bottlenecks and geopolitical disputes mean output from the field could be far off.  (3/1)

Indian refiners processed 21.94 million mt, or an average 5.2 million b/d, of crude oil in January, down 3.6% year on year. (2/27)

Thailand’s natural gas depletion problems are causing the southeast Asian country to make significant changes to its energy mix. The capacity of non-hydro renewables in Thailand—mostly driven by the biomass and solar sectors—may expand to 21 percent of the country‘s total power capacity mix at 14,858 MW by 2028. (2/27)

In Mozambique, militants have attacked Anadarko’s LNG project in what is the first attack on the oil and gas industry in the African country. More than a dozen masked, armed men—suspected to be members of an Islamic militant group—attacked a convoy near the project, which is still under construction, and injured four people. (2/26)

In Nigeria, Shell is facing prosecution from the Dutch authorities over its acquisition of an offshore oil and gas block a few years ago. (3/2)

The US oil rig count declined by 10 to 843 while the number of active gas rigs grew by 1 to 185, according to GE’s Baker Hughes.  The oil and gas rig count is now 57 up from this time last year, 43 of which is in oil rigs. (3/2)

Heavy crude okay: A tight market for heavy sour crude, exacerbated by US sanctions on Venezuela, has yet to negatively impact operations at Saudi Aramco’s Port Arthur refinery on the Gulf Coast. The 630,000 b/d Port Arthur facility in Texas, operated by Aramco subsidiary Motiva, is the US’ largest refinery. (3/1)

Exxon Mobil Corp said it added 4.5 billion oil-equivalent barrels of proved oil and gas reserves in 2018, driven mainly by increases in its holdings in the US Permian Basin, Guyana, and Brazil. The oil major said its proved reserves totaled 24.3 billion oil-equivalent barrels at the end of 2018, with liquids accounting for 64 percent, up from 57 percent in 2017. (3/1)

Digital oilfield: In the post-2014 world, digital technology and Big Oil have teamed up to bring in the era of the digital oilfield, which just a couple of decades ago must have sounded like science fiction. Earlier this month, Schlumberger announced it had struck a partnership with Rockwell Automation, a company specializing in automation solutions for industrial applications. (2/28)

SPR sale: The US Energy Department said it is offering up to six million barrels of sweet crude oil from the national emergency reserve in a sale mandated by a previous law to raise funds to modernize the facility. (3/1)

Three new natural gas-to-methanol plants are expected to start up in the US in 2019 and 2020—two in the Gulf Coast and one in West Virginia. The higher methanol production capacity will boost the US production of the fuel which can be used as an alternative transportation fuel or blended into gasoline to increase engine efficiency and cut air pollution; the higher capacity will also increase the industrial use of natural gas. (2/26)

WV pipeline moving forward: TransCanada said on Friday that the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the full in-service of the Mountaineer XPress natural gas pipeline project, which will help link the Appalachian basin’s natural gas supplies and growing markets in the US and beyond. The Mountaineer XPress project includes a 170-mile natural gas pipeline in West Virginia that will increase natural gas capacity by 2.7 billion cubic feet per day and together with related infrastructure—new compressor stations and modifications to existing compressor stations—represents a total investment of US$3.2 billion. (3/2)

Alaska gas pipeline plan fading: The new CEO of Alaska’s state gas corporation told legislators Thursday he is prepared to shut down the project and return unused funds to the state treasury if customers or investors do not appear in the next few months. (3/1)

Electricity evolution is slow: A study conducted by a team led by Robert Gross of Imperial College London and published in December 2018, concluded that, on average, the adoption time of the last four major power-generation technologies was 43 years. And by the end of that time, these technologies were well established, but not yet in a dominant position. (2/28)

The contribution of nuclear power to the global power mix in mature markets is set for a significant decline under current policy frameworks, as there are limited investments in new plant construction, the IEA said. China and India are responsible for more than 90 percent of net growth to 2040. However, outside of Japan, nuclear power generation in mature economies is seen dropping by 20 percent by 2040. (2/28)

Global EV growth: In 2018, 4.28 million BEVs, PHEVs, and HEVs were sold globally—an increase of 28.6% over the year prior—amounting to 5.2% of total global passenger vehicle sales, according to Adamas Intelligence. Not only is the EV market growing rapidly, the modern EV itself is also undergoing rapid technological evolution, from model to battery pack to cell and cell chemistry, Adamas says. (2/26)

The EV battery race intensified this week with the announcement that a startup financially supported by the US Department of Energy had released a lithium-ion battery that stores more energy than the 250 Wh EV industry benchmark. The company, 24M, said its semi-solid-state nickel-manganese-cobalt battery had achieved an energy density of 280 Wh and that its approach to battery building would allow it to hit a target of 350 Wh by the end of the year. (3/1)

Record cold: Temperatures as much as 30 to 50 degrees below normal are entering the Northern Plains as we close out the workweek. Through the weekend, brutal conditions you might expect in a frigid January overtake the central portion of the country, from the Mexican to the Canadian borders. Heading into the first full week of March, Arctic air takes up residence in the East as well. When it’s all done, most of the contiguous US will endure a punishing blow of frigid air from this Arctic blast. Records for cold are likely. (3/2)

Tom Whipple

Tom Whipple is one of the most highly respected analysts of peak oil issues in the United States. A retired 30-year CIA analyst who has been following the peak oil story since 1999, Tom is the editor of the long-running Energy Bulletin (formerly "Peak Oil News" and "Peak Oil Review"). Tom has degrees from Rice University and the London School of Economics.  

Tags: geopolitics, oil prices