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...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: Index

Tom Konrad CFA Part Subject / Description Stocks mentioned I Biofuels Overview WM II Hydrogen Vehicles and Vehicle Electrification III Natural Gas Vehicles WPRT, CLNE, and one I missed: FSYS IV Synthetic fuels: Gas-to-Liquids, Coal-to-Liquids, and Biomass-to-Liquids SSL, SYNM, RTK V Biofuel from Algae GSPI.PK, OOIL.OB, PALG.OB, PSUD.PK VI Barriers to Alternative Fuels ...

The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part IX: The Methadone Economy

Tom Konrad CFA No alternative fuel or combination of alternative fuels will allow our transportation system to operate the way it does today on oil.  As oil becomes increasingly scarce and expensive, the way we get our transportation needs met will have to change.  Understanding what the future of transportation may look like is key to making good investments in transportation. If the measure of success for alternative fuels is the ability to continue to live in suburbs and commute in multi-ton boxes of metal on congested freeways for hours each day, then alternative fuels will...

The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part VIII: Alternative Fuel Report Card

Tom Konrad CFA There are two types of solution to the liquid fuels scarcity caused by stagnating (and eventually falling) oil supplies combined with growing demand in emerging economies.  The most obvious is to find a substitute to replace oil.  Each potential substitute has barriers to its use which stand in the way of it from becoming a complete substitute for petroleum based fuel.  Understanding those barriers also leads us to the investment opportunities that arise from these substitutes.  In the last two articles of this series, I looked at barriers to adoption for alternative...

The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part VII: Peak Substitutes?

Tom Konrad CFA There are two types of solutions to the liquid fuels scarcity caused by stagnating (and eventually falling) oil supplies combined with growing demand in emerging economies.  The most obvious is to find a substitute to replace oil.  Supply constraints limit the full replacement of oil by most potential substitutes.  Understanding those constraints leads us to the investment opportunities that arise from these substitutes.  Increasing demand and constrained supply of oil is fueling the search for oil substitutes to use in its place.  Unfortunately, almost all of these potential substitutes also have limited...

The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part VI: Barriers to Substitution

Tom Konrad CFA There are two types of solution to the liquid fuels scarcity caused by stagnating (and eventually falling) oil supplies combined with growing demand in emerging economies.  The most obvious is to find a substitute to replace oil.  These substitute have barriers to their use as a replacment petroleum based fuel.  Understanding those barriers also leads us to the investment opportunities that arise from these substitutes.  As I wrote the first five parts of this series, looking into potential substitutes for gasoline and diesel, it was clear that many potential substitutes would need...

So Much for Peak Demand – try 134mb/d by 2030

No peak demand Eamon Keane "So much for peak demand - try 134mb/d by 2030."  That was the startling conclusion dispatched from the ivory tower recently by Joyce Dargay, a British transport econometrics professor, and Dermot Gately, an American economics professor. I'll present their conclusions and then discuss the implications. Their report is available here (pdf). The main conclusion is that the low hanging oil fruit has already been picked after the 1970's oil shocks. From 1978-85 OECD fuel oil consumption dropped by 7mb/d and then from 2003-2008 by another 2mb/d. The...

Cleantech Economics 101: Higher Fossil Fuel Prices; More Cleantech

David Gold With all the complexities of cleantech policy and technologies, there is only one simple thing needed for an explosion of competitive clean technologies – increased price of fossil fuels. The amount of R&D expenditures that will need to be invested in clean technology in order for it to hurdle the bar into competitiveness is much greater with low fossil fuel prices. And, the lower those prices, the less appetite the private sector has for making such investments. This leaves a much-increased burden on the back of government through grants and subsidies– a back that is...

Plug-in Vehicles; Waist Deep In The Big Muddy

John Petersen Generation specific cultural references can be treacherous ground for bloggers because the flashback effect is usually limited to readers with long and vivid memories. In this case, however, the lessons of history are so relevant that I'll accept the risk and offer some context for younger readers. In my youth a war wrapped in the liberal ideology of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and fueled by an underlying concern over who would control oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Tonkin was fought in the jungles of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. By current standards,...

Should Coal Company Investors Breathe Easy After Copenhagen?

Green Energy Investing For Experts, Part V Tom Konrad, CFA A global climate deal in Copenhagen would have been bad for coal miners, and coal companies have been rallying as the economy recovers, but it may not be clear skies for the black rock. In the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, coal is enemy number one.  The global disarray in Copenhagen can only be good for coal mining companies, and they duly rallied when the climate talks ended with little to show for it.  Yet carbon emissions are not the only black mark on the coal...

Betting Against Shale Natural Gas Plays

Green Energy Investing For Experts, Part III Tom Konrad, CFA Controversy continues to grow about the economic viability of shale gas.  Investors who doubt the companies' claims should consider buying puts. The Case for Gas From the perspective of a green energy investor, natural gas is the most benign fossil fuel.  Natural gas emits less carbon than other fossil fuels (slightly more than half as much as coal, when used for electricity generation.)  Natural gas turbines also can quickly compensate for fluctuating supply and demand from other sources of electricity.  This quick response makes them a natural complement...

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. ...

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...

Oil & Alt Energy Redux

Charles Morand Last week, I conducted an analysis showing the lack of evidence supporting claims that oil and alt energy returns are strongly correlated (claims that sometimes come from outfits as reputable as Bank of America Merrill Lynch).     I don't want to belabor this topic but I thought I would post the results of another, similar analysis I conducted following comments I received on how to improve the first one. In a nutshell, the comments suggested I do the following: 1) Look at daily correlations or even smaller periods, as "common knowledge" market...

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"...

What Is Peak Oil?

Charles Morand Peak Oil is a term that has become common currency in energy debates in last three years, due in large part to the spectacular rise in the price of crude between 2005 and the end of 2008. But what does Peak Oil actually mean and, more importantly, what do I mean when I use it in my articles? In the purest and original sense of the term, Peak Oil refers to the point in time at which the rate of oil production (as measured, for instance, in barrels per day) peaks. This peak,...