Disagreement within OPEC could trigger a more a volatile period for oil, with prices jumping on lack of new supply or sinking suddenly if member countries decide to release crude independently.
Oil prices initially surged to a six-year high on news that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, ended their meeting Monday with no action and no new meeting date. A proposed plan by OPEC, Russia and other allies to bring 400,000 barrels a day back to the market was disrupted by the United Arab Emirates’ objection to other aspects of the deal.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures for August traded as high as $76.98 Tuesday before falling back to settle down 2.4% at $74.53 per barrel. Many analysts had expected oil to rise on the discord among members of OPEC, and say prices could still climb despite the sell-off.
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better. I still think $85 to $90 per barrel should be the upper end,” said John Kilduff, partner with Again Capital. “You’ll see more oil produced. They’re not going to go crazy, but they’re not going to live within the current structures. Russia will lead the charge.”
“It could become a free for all,” he said.
Some analysts had already expected oil spikes into the $100 per barrel range over the course of the next year. The feuding between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates opens a new fissure in OPEC, which now means oil could also tank if members decide to open the spigots.
“Realistically, I don’t think anybody wants to go this way. I suspect cooler heads or rational thinking will prevail,” said Bart Melek, global head of commodity strategy at TD Securities. Melek said there are some wild cards for OPEC that could affect prices. A major one is whether the U.S. and Iran strike a deal on Iran’s nuclear programming, allowing it to return more than 1 million barrels a day back to the market.
Another risk is whether the variants of the Covid virus could affect the economy’s recovery and crimp demand for travel.
OPEC and its partners were able to agree to return 400,000 barrels a day to the market starting in August. But the UAE sought to also have its production baseline increased from 3.1 million barrels a day to 3.8 million barrels, and that was the sticking point with Saudi Arabia.
After three days of meetings, there was also a deadlock over whether the deal would include an extension of the the plan to the end of 2022, which was opposed by the UAE. Without an agreement, 5.8 million barrels a day, cut from production last year, will remain off the market even as demand rises.
“I think OPEC event risk is back. We had pretty smooth sailing this year, and now this was not priced at all,” said Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets. “Once people start focusing on 5.8 million barrels off the market, I think they might get nervous. How they come back will be important.” The market will be affected much differently based on whether the oil trickles back or the producing countries flood the market with supply.
The friction between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, formerly strong OPEC allies, comes at a time when the market is increasingly in need of more supply. Analysts expect the world is short of upwards of 2 million barrels a day, based on current production levels and increasing demand. That means oil is being taken from storage, and there could be increasing pressure on prices as the economy rebounds and demand rises.
The U.S. is producing about 2 million barrels a day less than it did pre-Covid, and output has remained at a steady level even as prices rise. The U.S. industry has become more disciplined, due to demands from shareholders and lenders. Oil companies also face sustainability demands and pressure to reduce carbon.
But U.S. drillers do have capacity to increase drilling. “Certainly, $90 oil would encourage a lot of drilling in not only the Permian, but in the Bakken and Rockies,” Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates said. “I think as prices creep up, one of the things [OPEC+ members] are worried about is a spike higher that would encourage lots of drilling in other parts of the world.”
Lipow said OPEC will also be careful about falling prices and the potential for even lower levels. “If prices fall $5 a barrel, they’ll come to an agreement to signal the market they’re not going to flood it with supplies,” he added.
It also comes as gasoline prices continue to rise and are nearly $1 per gallon higher than this time last year. The national average for unleaded was $3.13 per unleaded gasoline Tuesday, following a weekend where prices at the pump were the highest in seven years for the Fourth of July holiday, according to AAA. If crude prices continue to rise, so will gasoline prices.
“I think gasoline prices could remain above $3 a gallon for the balance of the summer,” said Lipow.
The White House Tuesday said there have been a number of high-level conversations with officials in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other partners.
“If prices were rising, I think that would be more of a catalyst for the White House to get involved,” said Croft. “If you have a sell-off you may have people in the administration saying why do I need to be involved in this.”
Kilduff said he does not think the situation will last much longer. “I think we’re in the last innings of it right now. I’m targeting in mid-August, you’re going to start to see gasoline demand going down because kids are going back to school. Refiners will start to dial back,” he said.
Teledriving mobility service Vay to remotely deliver EVs in Vegas as it expands to US
Europe’s first teledriving (remotely driving) service is entering the US market and intends to setup shop in Sin City to begin. Vay is establishing its new US headquarters in downtown Las Vegas, where it will begin testing its teledriving service by dropping off and picking up rental EVs to customers around the city.
Vay is a German teledriving specialist based in Berlin that has taken a remote-first approach to driverless vehicles in which an operator drives a given EV from a dedicated hub. Vay is aiming to gradually introduce more autonomous driving functions in its system as they become more safe and are permitted to do so.
For now, however, the service relies on teledrivers, whose immediate focus is on the driverless transportation of rental EVs to customers. Those customers can then hop in the EV, drive off and then park whenever they are done, enabling Vay to step back in and remotely drive the vehicle back to base.
After operating a vehicle in Hamburg this past February, Vay declared itself the first and only company to drive a car on European public roads with no one inside. We’ve personally experienced this same approach to rideshare mobility in Las Vegas when we went for a ride with Halo.Car.
With its sights now set on the US, Vay will have to compete with Halo.Car in Vegas – the home of its new headquarters.
Vay to compete in growing driverless EV market in Vegas
Following its plans for expanded certification to operate driverless vehicles in Europe, Vay shared details of its expansion to the US, beginning in Las Vegas. The US entity will be lead by general manager Caleb Varner, who joined Vay in late 2022 after leaving Uber where he was director, global general manager, and co-founder of Uber Rent & Valet. Varner spoke:
I am excited to be a part of Vay and launch our service in the US. Vay’s teledriving technology and innovative approach has the potential to reshape the way people move – not only is that a huge business opportunity, but also a service that we see missing from today’s transportation ecosystem. The broader team at Vay is excited about taking this german-born technology and using it to change the way Americans move and building a future with reduced personal car ownership.
To begin, Varner will work closely with Vay cofounder and CEO Thomas von der Ohe to implement Vay’s teledriving technology in the US market that supports the launch of its own remotely driven mobility service. Von der Ohe also spoke to Vay’s new home in Vegas as a kickoff in the US:
We are excited to enter the US mobility market. Our team is talking to stakeholders in various states and has started to work on launching an initial service. The market is ready and the responses we have received so far from regulators, city governments, and potential customers in the US show that it’s a very dynamic market that we will be exploring in the near future!
Like Europe, the approach will begin with remote deliveries of rental EVs around Vegas, but certain permits and certifications are required. Luckily, Vay has the support of Las Vegas’ International Innovation Center, located in the downtown Arts District. Vay’s new headquarters sits within this office which remains part of an investment in economic development in the city.
I guess I will have to go to Vegas and take a test ride in one of Vay’s driverless cars. Twist my arm!
Here’s where Toyota’s first US-made EV, an electric 3-row SUV, will be built
Toyota’s largest plant globally is going electric. The company revealed Wednesday it would assemble its new three-row electric SUV at its Georgetown, Kentucky, facility starting in 2025. The new SUV will be Toyota’s first US-assembled EV as the market continues to surpass expectations.
Toyota’s first US-assembled EV will be in Kentucky
“Toyota Kentucky set the standard for Toyota vehicle manufacturing in the US and now we’re leading the charge with BEVs,” Susan Elkington, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, explained.
The Toyota Kentucky plant is the company’s largest manufacturing facility globally, with the capability to produce 550,000 vehicles annually, and will now lead Toyota’s vehicle carbon reduction efforts in the US.
Toyota says the batteries for its three-row electric SUV will come from the company’s new battery factory in North Carolina. The plant was initially revealed in late 2021. Today’s announcement from Toyota reveals the plant will receive an additional $2.1 billion investment, bringing the total to nearly $6 billion.
Sean Suggs, president of Toyota Battery Manufacturing at the North Carolina facility, commented on the new funding, saying:
With this proactive infrastructure investment, we will be able to quickly support future expansion opportunities to meet growing customer need.
The NC plant will produce lithium-ion batteries with six production lines (four for hybrids and only two for EVs).
The Governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear, said through a $591 million investment for future projects in Scott County, Toyota is committed to retaining 700 full-time jobs.
Although Toyota didn’t reveal any new details of its first US-assembled EV coming in 2025, we know it will be a three-row electric SUV as part of ten new electric cars planned to launch globally.
Toyota aims to sell 1.5 million EVs globally with the new models by 2026 as it looks to keep pace in the rapidly expanding electric car market.
Apart from the company’s first global EV, the bZ4X, Toyota has released an electric sedan, the bZ3, in China and teased upcoming models, including a sport crossover and family SUV.
Since passing last August, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has attracted well over $100 billion in private-sector investment in EVs, batteries, and manufacturing. Toyota is one of many automakers and suppliers that have revealed plans to build on US soil.
That being said, with its first US-assembled EV arriving in 2025, will it still be too little too late for the automaker?
Either way, Toyota is doing what it should have done years ago. It’s building its EV supply chain capabilities with battery factories while retooling manufacturing facilities. In addition, Toyota is developing a dedicated EV platform that will help streamline production and double the range of future electric models with more efficient batteries, according to the company.
With the latest slew of announcements from Toyota, the company is noticeably accelerating the pace of EV development. Perhaps, after watching EV makers like Tesla and BYD steal market share, Toyota is looking toward the future rather than the past.
Former footballer Drogba is E1’s newest team owner ahead of first electric boat racing season
The UIM E1 World Championship electric boat racing league has found its latest team as it prepares to launch its inaugural season later this year. Former Chelsea and Ivory Coast footballer Didier Drogba and his partner Gabrielle LeMaire have signed on as owners of the fourth E1 racing team to join the growing league.
The UIM E1 World Championship is a nascent electric boat racing league created by Formula E and Extreme E founder, Alejandro Agag, and Rodi Basso – a former director of Motorsport at McLaren with a background in Formula 1 engineering.
We’ve been following the new sport’s progress for over a year as it has evolved from testing its all-electric RaceBird boats, to a growing league of teams led by some familiar names. Venice emerged as the inaugural E1 race team in April of 2022, and was soon followed by team Mexico owned by Formula 1 driver Sergio Perez.
Early this year, we shared news that tennis great Rafael Nadal had signed on as E1’s next team owner, bringing his native Spain into the fold to compete on the water. As the young championship series continues to develop (and tries) to fill all ten of its initial team slots this year, it has found its latest team owner in soccer (or football) legend Didier Drogba.
Team Drogba joins E1 donning the Ivory Coast flag
E1 announced the addition of Team Drogba to the UIM Championship this morning, which will be co-owned and managed with the footballer’s partner, Gabrielle LeMaire – a successful businesswoman and marketing expert. E1 cofounder and CEO Rodi Basso spoke about what the new Team Drogba owners bring to the league:
This team is so exciting for the E1 Series, blending diversity, inclusion and sustainability with a fire to compete and win. They are a dynamic duo that show how important it is to have equal representation and opportunities for men and women in motorsport, from the boardroom to the cockpit. And their commitment to ocean health and technological change will help take E1’s message further and wider. It’s exciting to see the fleet take shape and there’s more big announcements in the pipeline.
Similar to his new rival “Rafa” Nadal, Drogba’s foundation supports sustainable developments outside of the competitive arenas to make a positive impact on the planet. The former footballer and his partner also help provide a positive impact on the lives of African children living in poverty.
Together, the new E1 owners hope Team Drogba can help the new E1 series reach a global audience and inspire it to join the race to create a more sustainable world. Drogba spoke to the ownership opportunity and the people that have inspired him:
Sport and sustainability together, it’s a winning combination. Gabrielle and I are both fierce competitors so we’re going to build a strong team. We’re inspired by legends such as Senna and Schumacher, but most especially by Lewis Hamilton, winning F1 championships, breaking barriers and acting as a leader for a new generation of pilots.
Pollution has caused the destruction and loss of coastal habitats around the world. The degradation of our underwater eco-systems poses a series threat to marine life and livelihoods of coastal communities. So we want to have a positive impact through the accelerated development of clean technologies and inspiring change. But we’re also going to have fun for a great cause. Rafa and Checo, get ready! We are coming for you. And we’re here to win!
The inaugural UIM E1 World Championship is scheduled to begin later this year as race
organizers state they will continue to accelerate preparations, promising more teams and confirmed race venues soon. Better hurry.
This is another big get by E1 as it looks to bring as much hype to season 1 as possible… whenever that may be. The original schedule was originally anticipated to begin this past spring, but we still seem to be a ways away as E1 is now saying “late 2023” for a championship series kickoff.
The nascent series now has four teams, but has always hoped to begin racing with at least ten, so it’s going to have to hustle to find more owners quickly to get a viable competition together.
Although I do want to see E1 racing begin sooner rather than later, I don’t mind waiting because I’m genuinely unsure what I’m waiting for, meaning I’m not even sure what to expect in electric boat racing. The prospect of it looks promising, and the adjacent focus on foundations and the environment is a big plus – similar to Formula E. People love a brand with a positive cause.
I’m looking forward to seeing what countries/teams/owners join in next and how well season one goes. I’d very much like to see a competition in person, but E1 has to get there first. I’ll be watching!
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