Last updated by at .

A Fly on the Wall at OPEC’s November 27th Meeting

The next meeting of OPEC ministers is scheduled to take place November 27, 2014 in Vienna. It is not going to be business as usual. The stated purpose of the meeting is to set production policies for 2015. But we all know what the members will be discussing over tea or something stronger. “How do we get this problem under control?” A cartel is a group of companies or, in this case, countries who engage in collusion to limit or control the market price of a product. In many countries this …Continue Reading »

Making Sense of Falling Oil Prices

EIA net energy imports lowest in 29 years

SOURCE: US EIA World oil prices have fallen by 30% since their June 2014 high of about $115 per barrel. As I write this on October 15th Brent crude, the global benchmark, is at about $84.88 per barrel. WTI, the US benchmark is at $81.58 per barrel. This rapid fall in oil prices has spooked the market and set off actions and reactions that only contribute to the volatility. The predominant fear in the market is that prices will continue to fall and wreak havoc around the world. So what is …Continue Reading »

What to Make of Lower Oil Prices? Merry Christmas!

Lower Demand and Higher Libyan Supply

SOURCE: US EIA As I write this on October 13, 2014, the Brent crude oil price is $88per barrel or about 23% lower than its $115 year-to-date peak on June 19. For 13 straight months until July 2014 monthly Brent spot prices traded from $107 to $112 per barrel according to the US Energy information Administration (EIA). As oil prices declined  below $100 per barrel the herd mentality has been of display big time as the price of oil dropped and the herd started running faster---the question …Continue Reading »

Will the Next Power Shift be Off the Grid?

TCLabz DER Future

SOURCE: TCLABZ The integrated North American power grid is the largest machine in the world.  This machine is amazing because supply of electrons to meet expected demand for electrons must balance every second of every hour of every day---or the light go out for someone or all of us. There are 3,200 utilities that supply the U.S. electrical grid with power they  sell for about $400 billion each year. The electric power industry has been in a state of constant change for nearly fifty …Continue Reading »

The Mismatch of Power Supply and Demand

Elect_PWR_gas_2002-early2014_55

SOURCE:  US EIA The Mismatch of Supply and Demand. Many North American power markets (both ISO and non-ISO) have what might be described as too much of too many good things in plentiful power supply and low natural gas fuel prices.  What’s missing is demand growth to put all that generation potential to productive use. This mismatch of supply and demand presents itself as excess generation capacity from the lingering effect of slow economic growth and flat utility demand growth as customers …Continue Reading »

Shale Gas Supply Growth Shakes Up Everything

EIA World Shale Resources

SOURCE:  US EIA Data and Reuters graphic The shale revolution is a full reversal of energy fortunes in the United States.  It might have similar potential in other parts of the world if as projected global LNG prices decline over the decade ahead and indexing gas prices to oil erodes from competitive pressures on existing oil-indexed LNG suppliers. Large volumes of global gas supplies are expected come to market at prices below oil price parity (assuming oil prices at or above $90/bbl). …Continue Reading »

Light Sweet Crude Displacement

234681_5_

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and despite its well-deserved ‘tree hugger’ image the inland part of the Bay is home to a concentration of refineries essential to California’s economic vitality.  These refineries produce the boutique blend of gasoline not available anywhere else.  The EPA’s insistence on these unique regional gasoline blends is one reason fuel prices are higher here in California than elsewhere in the country.  When one of our California refineries burps or has any type …Continue Reading »

Power Shift @ Work

California-State-University-Microgrid-Network-Landscape

SOURCE:  US EIA There is a profound process of change underway in the regulated utility business.  It is brought about by a combination of good forces of healthy competition, low natural gas prices, the growing sense of environmental awareness and a hard to describe but easy to feel sense of vulnerability by customers. The shape of this power shift is also being driven by Federal and State regulatory agendas wrapped around environmental policy objectives.  There is broad public support for a …Continue Reading »

Getting to Solar Energy Sustainability

LCOE IER

The search for market equilibrium is an elusive quest in the solar energy industry.  But the addiction to subsidies, carve-outs and other political favors has done little to improve the success potential for solar.  Quite the reverse, by creating the conditions that made possible and induced China to expand its aggressive export strategy of market dominance and deploy its zero sum game of taking market share from regional players the solar industry and its political patrons has effectively slit …Continue Reading »

Jason McMahan: A Life Well Visualized

Capacity Required to Meet RPS Targets

Jason McMahan was 43 years old when he died suddenly of a heart attack in April, 2012.  A colleague from our days together at Global Energy Decisions, Jason was the founder of EnerMAP one of the companies acquired by Global Energy and a skilled cartographer by profession. It is always hard to explain why someone in the prime of their life would have that life suddenly cut short.  It is even harder to find words of condolence that seem in any way adequately to comfort stunned parents Jane and …Continue Reading »