2050 oil markets: opportunities in peak demand?

Seven technology themes can save 45Mbpd of long-term oil demand. They make the difference between 2050 oil consumption surpassing 130Mbpd and our own forecasts: for a plateau in the 2020s, then a gradual descent to 87Mbpd in 2050. This is still an enormous market, equivalent to 1,000 bbls of oil consumed per second. Opportunities abound in the transition: to deliver our seven themes, improve mobility, switch oil to gas, reconfigure refineries and ensure that the world’s remaining oil needs are supplied as cleanly and efficiently as possible.

Long-Run Oil Demand Model

This Excel model calculates long-run oil demand to 2050, end-use by end-use, year-by-year, region-by-region; across the US, the OECD and the non-OECD. Underlying workings are shown in seven subsequent tabs.

The model runs off 25 input variables, such as GDP growth, electric vehicle penetration and oil-to-gas switching. You can flex these input assumptions, in order to run your own scenarios.

Our scenario foresees a plateau at c103Mbpd in the 2020s, followed by a gradual decline to below 90Mbpd in 2050. This reflects 7 major technology themes, which we assess in depth, in our recent deep-dive report.

Without delivering these technology themes, demand would most likely keep growing to 130Mbpd by 2050, due to global population growth and greater economic development in the emerging world.

Lubricant Leaders: our top five conclusions

This data-file presents our “top five” conclusions on the lubricants industry, after reviewing 240 patents, filed by the Oil Majors in 2018. The underlying data on each of the 240 patents is also shown in the ‘LubricantPatents’ tab.

We are most impressed by the intense pace of activity to improve engine efficiencies (chart above), across  over 20 different categories. As usual, we think technology leadership will drive margins and market shares. ‘Major 1’ stands out, striving hardest to gain an edge, by a factor of 2x. ‘ Major 2 has the ‘greenest’ lubricant patents, across EVs and bio-additives. Major 4 has the single most intriguing new technology in the space.

The relative number of patents into Electric Vehicle Lubricants is also revealing. It shows the Majors’ true attitudes on electrification, in a context where they are incentivised to sell new products into the EV sector. Our lubricant demand forecasts to 2050 are also noted.

Drones attack military fuel economy?

This data-file quantifies the fuel economies of typical military vehicle-types, as $1.7 trn per annum of global military activity consumes c0.7Mbpd of total oil demand on our estimates, which are also included in the data-file.

Military drones  are transformational. Almost all the incumbent military vehicles in our data-file have fuel economies below 1 mpg. But the Reaper and Predator drones, famous for their deployment in recent conflicts, have achieved 3mpg and 8mpg respectively. But small, next-generation electric drones will achieve well above 1,000 mpg-equivalent.

Swarms of small-scale electric drones could emerge as the most devastating military weapon of the 21st century, according to a book we read last year on the topic, arguing that “A swarm of armed drones is like a flying minefield…they are so numerous that they are impossible to defeat… each one presents a target just 4-inches across… and shooting down a $1,000 drone with a $5,000 missile is not a winning strategy”. Our notes on the book are included in the data-file.


Container ships versus trucks and trains

This data-file tabulates c10 examples for the fuel economy of container vessels, which is a function of their size and speed.

The most efficient container ships are 2x more efficient than typical trains and 20x more efficient than typical trucks.

We calculate that moving goods from overseas to the developed world’s c1bn consumers accounts for c0.5% of global CO2 emissions (c50% in ships, c50% in trucks). These calculations are also shown in the data-file.

Make CO2 into valuable products?

This data-file is a screen of 25 companies, which are turning CO2 into valuable products, such as next-generation plastics, foams, concretes, specialty chemicals and agricultural products.

For each company, we have assessed the commercial potential, technical readiness, partners, size, geography and other key parameters. 10 companies have very strong commercial potential. 8 concepts are technically ready,  5 are near-commercial, while 12 are earlier-stage.

The featured companies include c20 start-ups. But leading listed companies include BP (as a venture partner), Chevron Phillips, Covestro, Repsol, Shell (as a venture partner) and Saudi Aramco.

Oil industry CO2 per barrel?

We have constructed a simple model to estimate the full-cycle CO2 emissions of an oil resource, as a function of a dozen input variables: such as flaring, methane leakage, gravity, sulphur content, production processes and transportation to market.

We estimate energy return on energy invested is c10x across the entire oil industry, including upstream, midstream and downstream.

Different resources are compared using our methodology. Relative advantages are seen for large, well-managed offshore oilfields and shale. Relative disadvantages are seen for heavy crudes (e.g., Oil Sands, Mexican Heavy) and producers with low regard for flaring and methane emissions (e.g., Iran, Iraq).

Download the model and you can quickly compute approximate CO2 emissions for other resources.

Drone Delivery: the Energy Economics

This data-file quantifies the energy economics of drone-deliveries, after Amazon and Google both announced breakthrough progress in this space in 2019.

15 commercial drones are evaluated in the ‘drones’ tab, which tabulates their energy consumption as a function of weight, velocity, flight times and costs (chart above).

The equations of flight are then modeled out fully for Amazon’s Prime Air concept in the ‘AmazonCalculation’ tab; for a full comparison against trucks.

We conclude that drone delivery could use c90% less energy, c99% less cost and c90% lower carbon than is typical in current last-mile deliveries.

Subsea Robots: the next generation?

This data-file tabulates over 20 next-generation subsea robots, being pioneered around the industry. Each one is described and categorized, including by technical readiness.

These electric solutions could be very material for offshore economics, improving oilfield decline rates and maintenance costs. Innovations include:

  • Residing subsea for c1-year at a time, by re-charging in subsea “docking” stations. This provides greater availability for lower cost.
  • Increasing autonomy means these robots can be free-swimming, as a communications tether is no longer necessary, improving ranges.
  • More intervention work will be conducted, rather than just inspections.

8 of the concepts in our database have all three of these capabilities above. They are at TRLs 5-6, and should be commercially ready in the early 2020s.

The leading companies are tabulated in the data-file, by Major and Service firm (chart below).

These solutions can save c$0.5-1/boe for a typical offshore oilfield, we estimate: performing inspection tasks 2-6x faster than incumbents, as well as halving costs and eliminating the weather-dependency associated with launching-recovering traditional ROVs.  For full details, please download the data-file.


Long-Term LNG Demand: technology-led?

This is a simple model of long-term LNG demand, extrapolating out sensible estimates in the world’s leading LNG-consuming regions. On top of this, we overlay the upside from two nascent technology areas, which could add 200MTpa of potential upside to the market. Backup workings are included.