Remote possibilities: working from home?

The COVID-19 crisis will structurally accelerate remote working. The opportunity can save 30% of commuter journeys by 2030, avoiding 1bn tons of CO2 per year, for a net economic benefit of $5-16k per employee. This makes remote work materially more impactful than electric vehicles.

COVID-19: what have the oil markets missed?

In the short-term, global oil demand could decline by -11.5Mbpd YoY in 2Q20 due to COVID-19. This is over 15x worse than the global financial crisis of 2008-9, too large for any coordinated production cuts to offset. However, in the medium-term, once the worst of the crisis is over, new driving behaviours could actually increase gasoline demand, causing a very sharp oil recovery. Finally, over the longer-term, structural changes will take hold, transforming the way consumers commute, shop and travel, but overall, these net impacts balance each other out.

COVID-19 Impacts on US Gasoline Demand?

US gasoline is the largest component of global oil demand, at c9Mbpd, or c9% of the global market. Hence we have modelled how it could be impacted by COVID-19, looking line by line, across a granular, c100-line breakdown.

A -2Mbpd contraction is possible in 2Q20, if 34% of all US workplaces close temporarily and 50% of non-essential travel is cancelled. This is an extreme scenario, commensurate with a c5pp slowdown in US GDP,  comparable to the “Great Recession” of 2008-09 in economic terms, but with 8x deeper demand destruction for gasoline.

Such steep declines are not inconceivable, from a modelling perspective. They could underpin a c10Mbpd YoY collapse in global oil demand.

How quickly could demand rebound? Very minimal long-term impacts persist from 2022 onwards, with demand destruction of just 60kbpd in 2023-24. We can even construct scenarios where US gasoline demand surprises to the upside, rising +0.5Mbpd, if COVID is brought under control. So when the oil market does turn, it may turn very quickly.

To run your own scenarios, please download the model.

How to structure a decarbonized gas value chain?

Gas value chains are the largest and lowest cost decarbonization opportunity on the planet, commercialising zero carbon energy for an incremental cost below $1/mcfe ($17/ton of CO2). This compares with end gas prices of $4-14/mcf and other CO2 mitigation options up to $800/ton. This 15-page note outlines how to structure a decarbonized gas value chain, securitizing forestry-based carbon commitments in an actively managed carbon fund.

Oil markets: meltdown?

There is now a 75% chance of an oil rout in 2020, with prices falling to $20-40/bbl. Our updated Monte Carlo models, outlined in this 4-page report, reflect the demand destruction due to COVID19 and the breakdown of OPEC’s accord. The range of uncertainties is vast, c5x higher than at YE19. But our base case sees 2.3Mbpd of oversupply this year, denting oil to $30/bbl, and halving the US rig count. A 1Mbpd YoY shale curtailment by April 2021 brings the market back into balance by 2022. But there is also a c2-10% risk of steeper supply disruptions due to new policies and geopolitics.

The future of offshore: fully subsea?

Offshore developments will change dramatically in the 2020s, eliminating new production platforms in favour of fully subsea solutions. The opportunity can increase a typical project’s NPV by 50%, reduce its breakeven by one-third and effectively eliminate upstream CO2 emissions. We have reviewed 1,850 patents to find the best-placed operators and service providers, versus others that will be disrupted. Overall, the theme supports the ascent of low-carbon natural gas, which should treble in the energy mix by 2050.

Ten Themes for Energy in the 2020s

This short presentation describes our ‘Top Ten Themes for Energy in the 2020s’. Each theme is covered in a single slide. For an overview of the ideas in the presentation, please see our recent presentation, linked here.

Decarbonized power: how much wind and solar fit into the optimal grid?

What should future power grids look like? Our answer optimizes costs, stability and CO2. Renewables do not surpass 45-50%. By this point, over 70% of new wind and solar will fail to dispatch, while incentive prices will have trebled. Batteries help little. They raise power prices by a further 2-5x to accommodate just 3-15% more renewables. The lowest-cost, zero-carbon power grid, we find, comprises c25% renewables, c25% nuclear and c50% decarbonized gas, with an incentive price of 9c/kWh.

Electric Vehicles Increase Fossil Fuel Demand?

It is widely believed that electric vehicles will destroy fossil fuel demand. We find they will increase it by 0.7Mboed from 2020-35. EVs only start lowering net fossil fuel demand from 2037 onwards. The reason is that 3.7x more energy is consumed to manufacture each EV than the net road fuel it displaces each year; while the manufacturing of EVs is seen growing exponentially. The finding is a strong positive for natural gas.

The new forest: can carbon-neutral fuels re-shape the oil industry?

Integrated oils have a game-changing opportunity in seeding new forests, as argued in our 21-page note. They could potentially offset c15bn tons of CO2 per annum, enough to permit the continuation of 85Mbpd of oil and 400TCF annual gas consumption within a fully decarbonized energy system. The cost is competitive, at c$50/ton. It is natural to sell carbon credits alongside retailing fossil fuels. We calculate 15-25% uplifts in the value of a typical fuel retail business, while allaying fears over the energy transition.