Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Energy

OPEC Getting Some Help from Nervous Energy Company Bondholders

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, July 21, 2017:

It’s no wonder that investors owning bonds of companies in the energy business are getting nervous. They purchased high-yield bonds issued by them, seeking income when there was little to be had elsewhere. Last year they were rewarded with 38 percent gains in their holdings as the industry rebounded.

But in June Bloomberg reported that those same bondholders saw their values drop by two percent. This is on top of energy stocks that have tanked 16 percent so far this year.

It’s the vicious circle facing frackers.

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Fracking’s Vicious Cycle Making Bondholders Nervous

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, July 20, 2017:

King Abdullah ibn Abdul Aziz in 2002

King Abdullah ibn Abdul Aziz

Investors in high-yield bonds issued by small fracking companies are getting nervous. Last year those bonds, according to Bloomberg, gained some 38 percent as they rebounded from lows set earlier. In June they slipped two percent. In the bond business, that’s enough to make bond fund managers and individual investors nervous. It’s bad enough that the S&P 500 Energy Sector Index of energy stocks has lost 16 percent so far this year. What’s worse is the vicious cycle that frackers find themselves in.

For instance,

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Will Mulvaney Have Any More Success with MAGAnomics than Stockman did with Reaganomics?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 17, 2017:

English: Official portrait of US Rep. Mick Mul...

Mick Mulvaney.

After serving in the House as a Republican representative from Michigan, David Stockman served as President Ronald Reagan’s OMB director from January 1981 until he quit 4½ years later in frustration. He got half of Reaganomics passed – the tax reduction part. He failed in getting the other half passed – the government spending cut part.

Mick Mulvaney is now Trump’s OMB Director after serving in the House as a Republican from South Carolina. And his job is likely to be as difficult and frustrating as was Stockman’s.

It’s far too soon to speculate about Mulvaney.

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Crude Oil to Climb to $60 a Barrel, Claim Aramco’s CEO, Citi, and Goldman

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 10, 2017:  

English: Flag of the Organization of Petroleum...

Claiming that the worldwide demand for crude oil will jump by 20 million barrels of oil per day over the next five years, Amin Nasser, the CEO of Saudi Aramco, said, “Investments in smaller increments such as [U.S.] shale oil will just not cut it.” Speaking at the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul last week, Nasser said:

If we look at the long-term situation of oil supplies, for example, the picture is becoming increasingly worrying.

 

Financial investors are shying away from making much-needed large investments in oil exploration, long-term development and the related infrastructure….

 

New discoveries are also on a downtrend. The volume of conventional [non-shale] oil discovered around the world over the past four years has more than halved compared with the previous four.

Speaking to his own interest, Nasser is trying to talk up the value of his company, which remains on schedule to sell five percent of itself in what some are calling “the world’s largest IPO [initial public offering].” To stress the point, Nasser said

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Crude Oil’s Bear Market Is Crushing OPEC

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 3, 2017: 

Map of the territory and area covered by prese...

Map of the territory and area covered by present-day Saudi Arabia.

The world’s price of crude oil fell farther in the first six months of 2017 than in any six-month period in the last 19 years. From its peak in January it dropped by more than 21 percent by the middle of June, qualifying it in Wall Street jargon as a “bear market.”

This isn’t part of OPEC’s plan. The once-influential cartel was sure that by taking 1.8 million barrels a day of crude oil production off the world markets, the world price of oil would shortly hit its target of $60. And it almost made it, rising to $57 a barrel before beginning its long and crushing decline.

OPEC was sabotaged not only by noncompliance among its members and production from those to which it gave a pass (Libya and Nigeria), who produced more than was expected, but also by

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OPEC Continues its Descent into History as an Unlamented Footnote

Embed from Getty Images

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 3, 2017: 

Two weeks ago, the world price of crude oil officially entered a bear market, down more than 21 percent from its high early in the year. OPEC’s plan appeared to be on track, taking enough production off the market to drive the price to $60 a barrel. That decline has enormous implications for the cartel’s members, as nearly all of them need the revenues to keep their welfare and warfare states fully funded. The decline must be especially painful for Saudi Arabia, the leader of the pack, which announced plans last year to sell part (estimated to be between five and ten percent) of its precious Saudi Aramco oil company. The company, thanks to deliberately opaque disclosures, was estimated to be worth, depending on the price of oil, between $2 trillion and $10 trillion.

That’s the operative word: “depending.” OPEC had big plans for the funds it hoped to raise, encapsulated as its “Vision 2030.” As Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the nation’s Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, wrote:

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Enjoying Record Low Gas Prices? Thank a Fracker!

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, June 27, 2017:  

On November 17, gas prices had dropped to $1.9...

Of the estimated 44 million Americans who will travel over the upcoming Independence Day holiday weekend (a record, by the way), 37.5 million of them will drive to their destinations. Along the way they will not only spend nearly a dollar a gallon less for gas than they have over the last 10 years on average, they will spend less on gas than any Independence Day since AAA has been keeping records. In addition, this will be the first time in nearly two decades that they will be spending less for gas in July than they did in January. On average over the last decade gas prices have been 47 cents a gallon higher on the Fourth of July than on New Year’s Day.

Consumers are always the ultimate beneficiaries of improved technologies, as producers are

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Oil Expert Yardeni: OPEC Should Break Agreement, Produce All It Can

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, June 21, 2017: 

In Dr. Ed’s Blog, Ed Yardeni, for 25 years one of the industry’s leading energy strategists, proposed on Wednesday that OPEC should consider going back to Plan A to fund members’ treasuries as Plan B clearly isn’t working:

Rather than [attempting to prop] up the price [of crude oil], maybe OPEC should sell as much of their oil as they can at lower prices to slow down the pace of technological innovation that may eventually put them out of business.

Plan A, it will be remembered,

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More OPEC Bad News: Increases in World Oil Supplies Overwhelming Its Cuts

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, June 14, 2017:  

English: Map of OPEC countries. Dark green = m...

English: Map of OPEC countries. Dark green = member states, Light green = former member states. Light Grey = Prospective members.

In its regular monthly oil market report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) stated that the world’s supply of crude oil increased in April by 18 million barrels just when it was expected to decline. To add to OPEC’s woes —OPEC is unsuccessfully trying to reduce the world’s oil supplies by cutting production so as to raise oil prices enough to fund the countries’ welfare states —  the agency also said it expected U.S. producers to increase their production by 430,000 barrels a day this year over last year, and by 780,000 barrels a day in 2018. The agency added that even this might be too pessimistic: “Such is the dynamism of this extraordinary, very diverse industry it is possible that growth [in crude oil inventories] will be faster [than we estimate].”

Its report makes for sobering reading for OPEC’s 13 members and the other 10 nonmembers who extended a production cut agreement to March 2018:

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What if the Energy Department is Right?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, May 2, 2017:

English: A picture of the National Petroleum R...

A picture of the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska,

Tom Lombardo appears to be a self-effacing journalist, professor, and armchair philosopher with a certification as a Professional Energy Manager. He calls himself either “an idealistic pragmatist” or a “pragmatic idealist,” but with no discernible ties either to the energy industry or the green movement. That’s what makes his assessment of the Obama Energy Department’s study published last summer on renewable energy remarkable. If he’s correct, then Big Oil is shortly going to have a day of reckoning in Alaska.

Writing at Engineering.com, Lombardo reviewed a report emanating from the Energy Department in August last year titled, “Estimating Renewable Energy Economic Potential in the United States: Methodology and Initial Results.” After looking at various energy scenarios (the Energy Department did no forecasting in its report), Lombardo summed up the study:

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Alaska’s North Slope Oil Reserves Are “Open for Business”

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 1, 2017:  

Map of northern Alaska showing location of , A...

Map of northern Alaska showing location of , ANWR-1002 area, and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA).

Following a six-day trip to northern Alaska, Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order on Wednesday in Anchorage that reverses a 2013 Obama administration executive order. That 2013 order removed half of the immense National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA) on Alaska’s North Slope from consideration for energy development. Said Zinke:

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With Nod to Sovereignty, Trump Dumps UN “Climate” Regime

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 1, 2017. It was written by Alex Newman, a colleague of mine, and is reprinted here with his permission.  

After months of keeping the world in suspense about his intentions, President Donald Trump formally announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the United Nations “Paris Agreement” on alleged man-made global warming. Blasting the non-binding UN scheme as a counterproductive effort to disadvantage America and redistribute U.S. wealth rather than fix the “climate,” Trump portrayed the decision as one that puts “America First.” He also chastised foreign powers and their lobbyists for demanding that the United States continue to handicap its economy under the guise of doing virtually nothing for the climate. The withdrawal, Trump said, represents the “re-assertion of America’s sovereignty” and a fulfillment of his efforts to re-invigorate the American economy. It was also the fulfillment of Trump’s oft-repeated pledge to “cancel” the UN scheme.

However, frustrating some of his supporters and climate realists, Trump also indicated that he was open to either re-negotiating the Paris Agreement or creating a similar international “climate” regime that would be more “fair” to the United States. In fact, the president even offered to work with Democrat Party leaders to create a new global-warming scheme — provided

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Trump Pressured to Stay in Paris Climate Agreement

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 29, 2017:

Candidate Donald Trump repeatedly promised that he would, if elected president, withdraw from the Paris Agreement agreed to under the previous administration in 2015. He said, “We are going to cancel the Paris climate agreement [and] stop all payments of the United States tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.”

Under that agreement (not a treaty which then-President Obama claimed wouldn’t need Senate ratification), so-called global warming would be limited by slashing carbon dioxide and other emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and concentrating instead on green energy development.

One sign that Trump intends to keep his promise followed the official dispatch from the G7 Summit in Sicily on Friday:

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China’s Surveillance State Now Monitors Foreign Companies, as Well as Citizens

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, May 26, 2017:

A Cropped version of President George W. Bush ...

Xi Jinping, no friend of freedom

The Wall Street Journal’s claim that China’s surveillance state, which now records the behaviors of foreign companies operating there, is only intended to “monitor and rate” them falls far short of the communist government’s real intentions. Using sophisticated tracking technology — meters in chimneys monitoring air pollution, recording of excessive energy usage by a company’s meters, and so on — it intends to change the behavior of those companies to keep them in line with state policy and objectives.

China’s State Council — the government’s all-seeing eye — already monitors every citizen’s behavior.

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OPEC to Extend Oil Production Cuts Another Nine Months

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, May 24, 2017: 

Now that “everyone is on board” with a nine-month extension of last November’s agreement to cut production by OPEC, tomorrow’s meeting of the cartel in Vienna is expected to rubber-stamp that extension. Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Khalid al-Falih, upon returning from Iraq on Monday, said, “We think we have everybody on board. Everybody I’ve talked to indicated that nine months [is] a wise decision.”

Iraq was the most egregious cheater under the November agreement, first complaining that the production numbers upon which its “participation” was based were too high, and then being very slow in implementing those cuts. The slack was picked up by Saudi Arabia, which cut more than it agreed to.

The overall goal of the cuts is to

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Russia, Saudi Arabia Release Trial Balloon: Extend Production Cut by a Year

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 15, 2017: 

In a joint statement released on Monday, oil ministers from Russia and Saudi Arabia said the present crude oil production reduction agreement reached last November should be extended for another year. The original target was a reduction of world crude inventories down to its five-year average. Since the present agreement didn’t come close, it should be extended, said Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih:

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OPEC Increasingly Irrelevant as Cartel Seeks to Extend Output-cut Deal

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, May 3, 2017: 

English: Flag of the Organization of Petroleum...

Gregory Brew’s statement from Oilprice.com on Tuesday was spot on: “OPEC Begins to Unravel.” Except that the unraveling began years ago as entrepreneurs in the United States found a way to tap underground shale profitably.

OPEC faces an essentially insurmountable task. On May 25, oil ministers from all 13 of the cartel’s members will meet in Vienna to decide whether or not its present oil output cut agreement should be extended. Either way, OPEC’s doom as the prime determiner of world crude oil prices is likely sealed.

If they decide not to extend the output cut, the world will know that OPEC is finished. The ministers will depart Vienna and tell their governments that

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Schumer, Pelosi Celebrate Stop-gap Government Spending Bill

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 1, 2017: 

After debating hundreds of items in the stop-gap government spending bill to fund the government through September, congressional leaders birthed a beast that rejected nearly all of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises.

On Sunday night Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gushed: “This is a good agreement for the American people, and takes the threat of a government shutdown off the table.” He made sure that everyone took note that most of Trump’s priorities were rejected: “The bill ensures taxpayer dollars aren’t used to fund an ineffective wall, excludes [160] poison pill riders [offered by Republicans], and increases investments in programs that [Republicans resisted but] that the middle-class relies on, like medical research, education and infrastructure.”

California Democrat Representative Nancy Pelosi was delighted to see a provision included that would require the U.S. taxpayer to bail out Puerto Rico to the tune of $295 million, calling it Medicare relief rather than a bailout:

From the beginning, Democrats have sought to avert another destructive Republican government shutdown, and we have made significant progress improving [this] omnibus bill.

Bloomberg, in its reporting, couldn’t restrain itself: “GOP leaders … bowed to Democratic demands to eliminate hundreds of policy restrictions aimed at curbing regulations, leaving the Trump administration with few victories.”

When two big-spending, Constitution-ignoring liberal Democrats get excited about a government spending bill, one knows something is dreadfully amiss.

The White House sought $30 billion for the Pentagon. It got just $15 billion, with $2.5 billion of it on a conditional basis. The White House wanted funding for the wall. It got $1.5 billion for “border security” but with the proviso that none of it be spent on the wall.

The White House has promised to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood got an increase. The White House wanted to cut funding to sanctuary cities. That was rejected. Those cities will get their federal funds. It wanted to cut funding for the National Institutes of Health. The NIH got a $2 billion boost. The White House has promised to cut the EPA’s budget. It got millions more in funding, along with a promise that there would be no staff cuts.

The White House has stated it wanted cuts to the Energy Department. Instead, the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — which funds experimental energy research and has been targeted for elimination by the White House — got millions more to spend instead.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities? They got increases.

In addition, more than 70 items that Bloomberg called “anti-environment policy riders” were scrapped.

Most annoying to those thinking that the new president would actually be keeping his promises was his statement that he would sign the bill if it arrives at his desk “as we discussed.” That could happen as early as Wednesday.

Perhaps the president is making a deal? Give up a little now in order to press for more later? After all, the bill, once signed, would only fund the government through September. The 2018 budget is still a work in progress.

Or is he going along to get along, not wanting to have the Democrats hang the “shutdown the government again” albatross around the Republican Party neck?

Or is he betraying his promises to his constituents in order to get “something, anything” about which he can claim victory during the early days of his administration.

He is the president, after all, and still has plenty of political capital that he could invest in keeping his promises. Why wouldn’t he consider vetoing the bill rather than folding, especially when it contains odious pro-death funding for Planned Parenthood? Wouldn’t this be a good time for him to stand tall and reject the bill, unless and until it reflects his promises and policies? Wouldn’t this be the time, as Ron Paul just said, “to shut down most of the federal government, starting with bringing the troops home and drastically cutting the military-industrial complex’s budget?”

Or has the president been assimilated by The Borg — the powers-that-be in Washington — and just decided that “resistance is futile” and that he’ll be happy that the cuts to his projects and priorities weren’t even worse?

Latest GDP Report: The Good News and the Bad News

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, April 28, 2017:

Friday’s report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) was so filled with disclaimers that one will have to wait another month to get a true picture of how the economy is performing under President Trump. In the meantime, said the BEA, real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2017.

However, last-minute retail sales data (which showed slowing) wasn’t incorporated into Friday’s report, causing the BEA to say that its estimate

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Trump Floats Trial Balloon on Tax Reform; Wants Feedback

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, April 26, 2017:

Initially referred to as a statement of general principles, the one-page summary of the Trump administration’s tax reform plan looked more like a trial balloon. Said the White House, the administration “will hold listening sessions with stakeholders to receive their input … [in order to] develop the details of a plan that … can pass both chambers.”

Reiterating Trump’s goals of growing the economy, creating millions of jobs, simplifying the tax code, and providing tax relief to middle-income families, the trial balloon as summarized would

lower the corporate tax rate from 39.6 percent to 15 percent, including Subchapter S or “pass-through” corporations;

 

reduce the number of individual income tax brackets from seven to three: 10%, 25% and 35%, depending on income;

 

double the standard deduction, currently at $6,300 for individuals and $12,600 for married couples filing jointly;

 

expand tax relief to families with child and dependent care expenses;

 

eliminate various tax breaks that apply mainly to the wealthiest taxpayers;

 

keep mortgage interest and charitable deductions while eliminating deductions for state income taxes paid;

 

repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT);

 

repeal the 3.8% ObamaCare tax that hits small businesses and investment income;

 

allow a one-time “tax holiday” for international corporations holding trillions overseas; and

 

eliminate tax breaks for special interests.

Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called it “the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country,” while his Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn said the plan represented a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to do something really big.”

What’s really big is the potential deficits Trump’s plan could cause, with at least one critic estimating that it would result in $6 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years.

The underlying goal of the administration being pushed by Trump is that by cutting these tax rates the economy would awake from its slumber and start generating three percent annual rates of growth of the nation’s GDP. Although the Laffer Curve was not mentioned by Mnuchin or economist Stephen Moore (in his recent critique of the government’s economic outlook), it’s the same principle: lower tax rates to result in higher economic growth which will (in theory) result in higher taxes collected by the government.

The increase in the standard deduction is also designed to allow an estimated 27 million Americans who file a long form listing their mortgage interest and charitable deductions to use a “big postcard” instead. This “simplification” of the tax code has long been a stated goal of Trump as candidate and his administration after he was inaugurated in January.

Wednesday’s announcement is just the opening salvo in what promises to be a long war before anything reaches Trump’s desk. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling it a gift for the already-wealthy Americans who don’t need any more tax breaks. And Mnuchin referred to the Senate strategy of “reconciliation” that is likely to be needed to pass the Senate without Democrat votes. He noted that he hoped that the bill that finally passes Congress and is signed into law by the president will be permanent, but “if we have them for [just] 10 years, that’s better than nothing.”

Reconciliation would allow Republicans to pass it without a single Democrat vote, but would also cause the plan to expire in 10 years if it generates deficits. This is what happened to the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush. When the projected revenue growth didn’t meet expectations, his tax cuts for the most part were automatically ended.

The obstacles are substantial, including determined if futile resistance from Democrats and complaints from the energy industry which might see its depletion allowance deductions cut or removed in Trump’s final bill. Those details will be revealed in June and could also negatively impact heavily-indebted public utilities and cable companies that might see some loss of their interest deductions.

On the other hand, winners could include companies that are currently most negatively impacted by high corporate rates in force, including engineering and construction companies, food wholesalers, publishers, and retailers.

The old proverb applies as Trump’s trial balloon gets translated into specific language in the tax reform bill in June: “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.” A newer one is this from Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point Research and Trading, who has been following these events closely:

The sugar high of tax cut headlines could turn into a nagging headache once stakeholders return to the painstaking consideration of process and pay-fors.

Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.