Articles tagged with "oil prices"
Recently, I explained how high oil prices can bring on financial collapse for oil importers. In this post, I’ll discuss the flip side of the situation: how oil exporters reach financial collapse.
Unfortunately, we have many examples of countries that were oil exporters, but are dealing with collapse situations. Egypt, Syria, and Yemen all have had political disruptions since 2011. These may not be called financial collapse, but they all took place as the country’s oil exports decreased and as the price of imported food rose. Another example is the Former Soviet Union (FSU). It collapsed in 1991, after a period of low oil prices, in what looks very much like a financial collapse.
There are several dynamics at work in the financial collapse of oil exporters:
- Oil exporters are often dependent on oil export revenue to fund government programs.
- The need for government programs grows as population grows and as the price of food rises.
- The amount of oil that can be extracted in a given year often declines over time, as initial stores are depleted.
- Exports often decline even more rapidly than oil supply, because of rising oil consumption as population grows.
In general, high oil prices are good for oil exporters (except the effect on food prices). At the same time, oil importers strongly prefer low oil prices. As a result, we end up with a price tug of war between oil importers and oil exporters.
One additional issue is declining Energy Return on Energy Invested. Countries often have the option of reducing their rate of decline by adding production in areas which are more expensive to drill (say deeper, smaller locations offshore Norway) or by using enhanced oil recovery methods. Such approaches add costs (and energy use), and further add to the price that oil exporters need for their product.
Egypt, Syria, and Yemen
Egypt, Syria, and Yemen are three countries that the press would say are suffering from the continuing impact of the Arab Spring revolutions, which began in 2011, or of civil war. The similarity of the oil production and consumption charts for the three countries (shown below) suggests that declining oil exports likely played a major role as well.
This is a guest post by James Hamilton, Professor of Economics at the University of California, San Diego. This post originally appeared on the Econbrowser blog here.
Those behind the theory appear to have been dead wrong, at least in terms of when the peak would hit, having not anticipated the rapid shift in technology that led to exploding oil and natural gas production in new plays and areas long since dismissed as dried up.
These comments inspired me to revisit some of the predictions made in 2005 that received a lot of attention at the time, and take a look at what's actually happened since then.
A friend asked me to put together a presentation on our energy predicament. I am not certain all of the charts in this post will go into it, but I thought others might be interested in a not-so-difficult version of the story of the energy predicament we are reaching.
My friend also asked what characteristics a new fuel would need to have to solve our energy predicament. Because of this, I have included a section at the end on this subject, rather than the traditional, “How do we respond?” section. Given the timing involved, and the combination of limits we are reaching, it is not clear that a fuel suitable for mitigation is really feasible, however.
Energy makes the world go around
Energy literally makes the world turn on its axis and rotate around the sun.
Energy is what allows us to transform a set of raw materials into a finished product.
Energy is also what allows an us to transport goods (or ourselves) from one location to another. Services of any type require energy–for example, energy to light an office building, energy to create a computer, and human energy to make the computer operate. Without energy of many types, we wouldn’t have an economy.
We are used to expecting that more investment will yield more output, but in the real world, things don’t always work out that way.
In Figure 1, we see that for several groupings, the increase (or decrease) in oil consumption tends to correlate with the increase (or decrease) in GDP. The usual pattern is that GDP growth is a little greater than oil consumption growth. This happens because of changes of various sorts: (a) Increasing substitution of other energy sources for oil, (b) Increased efficiency in using oil, and (c) A changing GDP mix away from producing goods, and toward producing services, leading to a proportionately lower need for oil and other energy products.
The situation is strikingly different for Saudi Arabia, however. A huge increase in oil consumption (Figure 1), and in fact in total energy consumption (Figure 2, below), does not seem to result in a corresponding rise in GDP.
At least part of problem is that Saudi Arabia is reaching limits of various types. One of them is inadequate water for a rising population. Adding desalination plants adds huge costs and huge energy usage, but does not increase the standards of living of citizens. Instead, adding desalination plants simply allows the country to pump less water from its depleting aquifers.
To some extent, the same situation occurs in oil and gas fields. Expensive investment is required, but it is doubtful that there is an increase in capacity that is proportional to its cost. To a significant extent, new investment simply offsets a decline in production elsewhere, so maintains the status quo. It is expensive, but adds little to what gets measured as GDP.
The world outside of Saudi Arabia is now running into an investment sinkhole issue as well. This takes several forms: water limits that require deeper wells or desalination plants; oil and gas limits that require more expensive forms of extraction; and pollution limits requiring expensive adjustments to automobiles or to power plants.
These higher investment costs lead to higher end product costs of goods using these resources. These higher costs eventually transfer to other products that most of us consider essential: food because it uses much oil in growing and transport; electricity because it is associated with pollution controls; and metals for basic manufacturing, because they also use oil in extraction and transport.
Ultimately, these investment sinkholes seem likely to cause huge problems. In some sense, they mean the economy is becoming less efficient, rather than more efficient. From an investment point of view, they can expect to crowd out other types of investment. From a consumer’s point of view, they lead to a rising cost of essential products that can be expected to squeeze out other purchases.
A person might think from looking at news reports that our oil problems are gone, but oil prices are still high.
In fact, the new “tight oil” sources of oil which are supposed to grow in supply are still expensive to extract. If we expect to have more tight oil and more oil from other unconventional sources, we need to expect to continue to have high oil prices. The new oil may help supply somewhat, but the high cost of extraction is not likely to go away.
Why are high oil prices a problem?
1. It is not just oil prices that rise. The cost of food rises as well, partly because oil is used in many ways in growing and transporting food and partly because of the competition from biofuels for land, sending land prices up. The cost of shipping goods of all types rises, since oil is used in nearly all methods of transports. The cost of materials that are made from oil, such as asphalt and chemical products, also rises.
Most of us have heard that Thomas Malthus made a forecast in 1798 that the world would run short of food. He expected that this would happen because in a world with limited agricultural land, food supply would fail to rise as rapidly as population. In fact, at the time of his writing, he believed that population was already in danger of outstripping food supply. As a result, he expected that a great famine would ensue.
Most of us don’t understand why he was wrong. A common misbelief is that the reason he was wrong is that he failed to anticipate improved technology. My analysis suggests that there were really two underlying factors which enabled the development and widespread use of technology. These were (1) the beginning of fossil fuel use, which ramped up immediately after his writing, and (2) a ramp up in non-governmental debt after World War II, which enabled the rapid uptake of new technology such the sale of cars and trucks. Without fossil fuels, availability of materials such as metal and glass (needed for most types of technology) would have been severely restricted. Without increased debt, common people would not have been able to afford the new types of high-tech products that businesses were able to produce.
This issue of why Malthus’s forecast was wrong is relevant today, as we grapple with the issues of world hunger and of oil consumption that is not growing as rapidly as consumers would like–certainly it is not keeping oil prices down at historic levels.
What Malthus Didn’t Anticipate
Malthus was writing immediately before fossil fuel use started to ramp up.
Posted by Rune Likvern on January 1, 2013 - 7:12am
Tags: baker hughes, bakken, breakeven price for shale oil, brigham, eagle ford, eur, marathon, north dakota, nymex oil futures, oil prices, rockman, sanish, shale oil, spe, statoil, the red queen, three forks, usgs, whitting oil and gas corporation, wti [list all tags]
The Oil Drum staff wishes a Happy New Year to all in our readership community. We are on a brief hiatus during this period, and will be back with our regular publications early in the new year. In the meantime, we present the top ten of best read Oil Drum posts in 2012. The eight in this series is a post by Rune Likvern on shale oil production in the US Bakken basin.
In this post I present the results from an in-depth time series analysis from wells producing crude oil (and small volumes of natural gas) from the Bakken - Bakken, Sanish, Three Forks and Bakken/Three Forks Pools - formation in North Dakota. The analysis uses actual production data from the North Dakota Industrial Commission as of July 2012 from what was found to be a representative selection of wells from operating companies and areas.
The reference in the title to the Red Queen from “Through the Looking-Glass” by the English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (perhaps better known as his pseudonym Lewis Carroll) who was also a mathematician and logician, is deliberate to create associations with the Red Queen’s statement "It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place".
After presenting, discussing and concluding the results from the study presented in this post, the reference to the Red Queen was found to be an apt analogy to describe why technology and/or price cannot overcome the inevitable fact that field size and well productivity declines in most plays, whether in shale or any other plays. Put in a different way: shale plays do not get a pass on the laws of physics or the history of play and basin developments.The potential and technology for extraction (production) of shale/tight oil has been around for several decades.
There is every reason to embrace the recent additions of shale oil (from Bakken, Eagle Ford and other plays). These additions will help ease the present tight global oil supply situation and thus slow down the growth in oil prices.
Figure 01: The illustration above is from “Through the Looking-Glass”. At the top of the hill, the Red Queen begins to run, faster and faster. Alice runs after the Red Queen, but is further perplexed to find that neither one seems to be moving. When they stop running, they are in exactly the same place. Alice remarks on this, to which the Red Queen responds: "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place".
Continued below the fold.
The Oil Drum staff wishes a Merry Christmas to all in our readership community. We are on a brief hiatus in this period, and will be back with our regular publications early in the new year. In the meantime, we present the top ten of best read Oil Drum posts in 2012. The fourth in this series is a March 2012 post by Robert Rapier reacting to statements by Bill O'Reilly on US oil supply and demand.
Last week I was interviewed by Alan Colmes from Fox News Radio on the topic of gas prices. During the interview, he mentioned an idea that Bill O'Reilly has proposed, and that is to address gasoline prices by discouraging U.S. oil companies from exporting their products. The critics of Bill's proposal have generally focused on the notion that "We can't tell the oil companies where to sell their product."
However, there is a far more fundamental issue, and that is that the basic facts of his proposal are based on an erroneous assumption. Let's first have a look at the proposal, in his own words:
O'Reilly: We began covering the skyrocketing oil prices last Friday with Lou Dobbs. He was candid, saying because of the mild winter, there is plenty of oil and gas in the U.S.A. So supply and demand here should dictate lower prices.
With all due respect, Bill O'Reilly has a fundamental misunderstanding about oil supplies. There is not "plenty of oil and gas in the U.S.A." He has mistakenly translated net exports of finished products like gasoline and diesel into "plenty of oil and gas in the U.S.A.", as I explain below.
The Oil Drum staff wishes a Merry Christmas to all in our readership community. We are on a brief hiatus in this period, and will be back with our regular publications early in the new year. In the meantime, we present the top ten of best read Oil Drum posts in 2012. The second in this series is a summary by Rembrandt on shale oil developments and production expectations.
The impact of unconventional fuels like shale oil on the global energy system is still an issue of great uncertainty. Not so much because of the size of the tank (the resource base), but due to the large physical effort necessary to obtain a sizeable supply of this type of fossil fuel. For instance, to exploit tight shale oil formations we need large capital expenditures to obtain relatively low flow rates from many horizontally drilled wells.
The developments of all things shale oil were discussed at a seminar organized by Allen & Overy and their Future Energy Strategies Group in London on 16 October, of which a summary and key take-away points can be found below the fold. With many thanks to both Allen & Overy and the speakers at this event for sharing their knowledge on these important developments in a public setting.
Posted by Gail the Actuary on November 16, 2012 - 3:30pm
Tags: eroei, iea, imf, oil prices, recession, shale oil, tight oil, us oil production, weo 2012, world energy outlook [list all tags]
The International Energy Agency (IEA) provides unrealistically high oil forecasts in its new 2012 World Energy Outlook (WEO). It claims, among other things, that the United States will become the world’s largest oil producer by around 2020, and North America will become a net oil exporter by around 2030.
Figure 1 shows that this increase comes solely from the expected rise in tight oil production and natural gas liquids. The idea that we will become an exporter in later years occurs despite falling production, because “demand” will drop so much.