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...
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...

What Will the Oil Spill Do For Oil Sands Stocks?

Bill Paul Will shares of the oil companies that are major players in Canada’s tar sands region rise or fall? Logically, shares should rise in the wake of the deepwater drilling moratorium ordered by President Obama following the BP (BP) oil spill, as Wall Street begins to reflect on the fact that Alberta’s tar sands region is the second biggest crude-oil deposit in the world. Even before the spill, a report from IHS CERA had concluded that Canadian tar sands would be the single biggest source of US crude imports in 2010. Just as logically, however, shares should...

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 ...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: Why Invest for Peak Oil?

...and Why Not Invest in Oil Companies? Tom Konrad CFA The purpose of this series on peak oil investments has been to highlight companies outside the oil sector that are likely to benefit from increasing oil prices.  This article explains why we should expect oil prices to rise. What is Peak Oil? There are many definitions for peak oil.  In its most basic form, Peak Oil is the moment of highest production.  World oil supplies are finite, and so we cannot continue to produce oil in increasing quantities forever.  It's a mathematical certainty that at...

The End of Elastic Oil

Tom Konrad CFA The last ten years have brought a structural change to the world oil market, with changes in demand increasingly playing a role in maintaining the supply/demand balance.  These changes will come at an increasingly onerous cost to our economy unless we take steps to make our demand for oil more flexible. We're not running out of oil.  There's still plenty of oil still in the ground.  Oil which was previously too expensive to exploit becomes economic with a rising oil price.  To the uncritical observer, it might seem as if there is nothing to...

LNG Exports Would Help the Environment

Tom Konrad CFA Photo: Robin Lucas, via Wikimedia Commo With friends like these, who needs enemies? The Sierra Club is fighting new Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) export terminals, because they believe LNG exports would reward and encourage producers of shale gas. Fighting shale gas has blinded them to the bigger picture. If LNG exports were to reward shale gas producers, they would have to be significant enough to raise the price of domestic natural gas. Such large exports would also lower...

Jim Rogers: What Peak Oil Will Do for Cotton

The most recent issue of Fortune has an excellent interview with Jim Rogers, of Investment Biker and Adventure Capitalist fame, as well as an excerpt from is new book, A Bull in China.  Jim saw the start of the current commodities supercycle early (peak oil is just one driving force for this cycle), but it still has a long way to run, in my opinion, as well as Jim's.   Almost everything has some dependence on energy prices, because of either the embodied energy, or because if the embodied energy of substitutes.   As Jim says in the interview, ...

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...

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,...

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...

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...
Close Bitnami banner
Bitnami