OPEC and its allies left the oil market hanging on Monday when they indefinitely postponed talks to resolve a disagreement over production curbs.
Crude prices first surged to six-year highs, then retreated, and uncertainty continues to hang over future OPEC+ policy.
But at least one energy analyst expects a breakthrough to come soon.
“I think it’s highly likely [that] it’s going to resolve itself,” said Stephen Schork, a principal advisor at energy analysis company The Schork Group.
OPEC is the strongest it has been in years, and they would not want to “upset the applecart,” he told “Street Signs Asia” on Thursday.
Conflict in OPEC
The energy alliance met last week to discuss output policy, but the UAE unexpectedly blocked proposals to increase supply and extend the remaining production cuts to the end of 2022, instead of April 2022 as previously agreed.
Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE’s energy minister, told CNBC on Sunday that it “wasn’t a good deal” because the output cuts were measured against a baseline of 2018 production levels.
The country has increased its production capacity, but cannot pump more oil while the OPEC agreement remains in place. It wants this baseline to be revised.
Russia is reportedly attempting to negotiate a resolution.
Neil Beveridge, a senior oil analyst at Bernstein, said OPEC policy has been focused on controlling supply to manage prices.
But the UAE sees that peak oil demand is “staring OPEC in the face” and is considering chasing market share instead of high energy prices, he told “Capital Connection” on Thursday, and that’s why it wants to be given a higher quota.
$50 oil versus $100 oil
Observers say two scenarios are possible if OPEC doesn’t reach a new deal. The first is that of a price collapse.
Beveridge noted that OPEC is sitting on nearly 6 million barrels of spare capacity now. If countries decide to increase supply and go for market share, the downside could be “significant,” he said.
“We can see oil prices certainly drop back below $50 again … pretty quickly, if that [happens],” he said.
Why mess around with, potentially, a price war?Stephen SchorkThe Schork Group
The second scenario is one where countries continue to produce oil according to the quotas that were previously agreed on. Oil prices would spike, possibly as high as $100 per barrel, with demand outpacing supply.
OPEC probably doesn’t want to rock the boat in either direction, according to Schork.
“They are in a very nice position at this point,” he said. “Why mess around with, potentially, a price war?”
On the other hand, too-high oil prices are not ideal. “The higher we go, you’ll start to hear the political winds turn against them, especially here in the United States,” he added.
Schork said he believes the UAE will be allowed to increase production, and the country will stick to their quota.
“They just want a bigger share of OPEC’s prize,” he said.
Bernstein’s Beveridge, however, said there is a risk that other OPEC+ members will want to raise their production quotas.
“That could lead to a whole unravelling of the OPEC agreement that we have … and that would certainly point to very significant downside [for] prices,” he said.
The deal only works if everyone is committed to it, he said, but noted that there has been “very good compliance” from OPEC members over the last 12 months.
In the long term, Schork said the oil-producing alliance would benefit from the energy transition.
“As western oil companies trip over themselves in the years ahead — and they’re already doing it now — to decarbonize, OPEC’s share of the global oil market is going to continue to grow,” he said, adding that oil demand is likely to increase until the end of the decade.
“It behooves all players on the OPEC side to play nicely, so yes I do think we’ll see a resolution to the situation sooner rather than later,” he said.
— CNBC’s Sam Meredith, Weizhen Tan and Dan Murphy contributed to this report
Tesla releases stealth update with new features
Tesla has released a new software update to its fleet and while the release notes remain unchanged, there are a few exciting features that were stealth updated.
The automaker has started to push its 2023.11.4.2 software update.
The update’s release notes are the same as the previous update, but Tesla often updates or adds features without discussing them.
That’s the case with this new update, according to Green, a well-known Tesla hacker who often discovers new features inside Tesla’s code.
He reported that the latest update includes several stealth changes:
Like most premium vehicles today, Tesla has an automatic wiper system that automatically matches the speed of the wipers to the intensity of the rain or snow.
However, unlike most other automakers, Tesla doesn’t use a rain sensor for its system.
Instead, the automaker is using its Autopilot cameras to feed its computer vision neural net to determine the speed for the wipers.
It has been deployed in Tesla vehicles since 2018, but many owners have been complaining that it is not as accurate as other systems using rain sensors.
Tesla’s solution was an update called ‘Deep Rain’ that used a new neural net to power the feature. It came out in 2019, but it was a marginal improvement.
Now Green reports that owners can shut it down if they don’t like it.
Another important stealth update for safety in this new software update is the ability for automatic emergency braking (AEB) to brake for vehicles cutting into your lane. Previously, it would try to avoid things with steering, but AEB was reserved to prevent or reduce the impact for something blocking your way.
For FSD Beta users, the update also now reduces suspensions, which occur after misuse, like not paying attention to the road when using, to one week instead to two weeks.
America’s first US-built electric mini-truck begins street-legal homologation
The AYRO Vanish has grabbed headlines over the past year as it rolls ever closer to production at AYRO’s Texas factory. Now the electric mini-truck’s final step ahead of manufacturing has begun as the Vanish starts street-legal homologation.
The AYRO Vanish is an electric utility vehicle that is designed to fit into the low-speed vehicle (LSV) federal designation. The mini-truck uses a lightweight architecture to limit the entire vehicle weight and maximize the allowable payload.
The Vanish boasts a payload of up to 1,200 lb (544 kg), which is fairly close to many standard-sized pickup trucks. For comparison, a 2023 Ford F-150’s payload capacity starts at 1,310 lb (594 kg). The company also indicated that it plans to produce a non-street legal variant that will have a higher payload capacity of 1,800 pounds (816 kg). That model would be applicable to work sites, campuses and other areas where use on public roads is not required.
Unlike standard pickup trucks, the Vanish offers highly adaptable configurations. Optional rear cargo configurations including food boxes, flat beds, utility beds with three-sided tailgates, and van boxes for secure storage all point to potential commercial applications for the vehicle.
And those future commercial customers could be getting their hands on the Vanish’s steering wheel sooner rather than later. Heading for homologation testing means that the company is now closer than ever to putting those various designs on the road.
As AYRO CEO Tom Wittenschlaeger explained:
“Now that we’ve completed our internal testing, it’s time to ensure that the award-winning Vanish meets requirements of our national governing bodies. Once we’ve completed this process and receive final approval, we can begin delivering vehicles to our customers and dealers.”
In order for any road-worthy vehicle to be considered for sale, the vehicle must go through homologation to ensure it is safe and complies with government regulations.
LSVs have reduced regulatory hurdles, but there are still many safety requirements and design considerations to be addressed. The vehicles must meet regulations for the construction, design, durability, and performance requirements as outlined by federal governing bodies. In the US, this process is governed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
This complex process of homologation allows for vehicles to be officially classified by date and category as well as have official and certifiable technical information and specifications. The Vanish is completing homologation for both the United States and Canada, for which testing includes the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) 500, Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) 500 and California Air Resources Board (C.A.R.B.).
In parallel with its homologation phase, AYRO is now planning to begin Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) by early June to begin building the first 50 Vanish units that will be used as demo models for signed dealers.
The company plans to enter full-scale production upon the successful completion of its first 50 units.
As AYRO’s senior vice president of programs added:
“Our team has worked diligently to prepare for this day. This is one of the final steps in our product development process. Concurrently with homologation, we plan to begin LRIP and immediately following begin delivering vehicles to our customers and dealers.”
The AYRO Vanish opened for orders earlier this month, launching at a starting price of $33,990. While that price is more expensive than several other imported electric mini-trucks, the Vanish’s modular design (and soon-to-be street legal status) is a key differentiator.
AYRO’s vice president of Dealer Sales, Terry Kahl, previously explained the advantages of a modular platform:
With swappable bed configurations, we believe dealers can find a use case for the Vanish with almost any of their existing clientele. We have indications of interest from a rapidly growing number of dealers and now incoming dealers can find added value in that AYRO is accepting their pre-orders even before they join our dealer network. It should be an absolute win-win for our existing and onboarding dealers as well as future dealers.
WAU Project Cyber teased as ‘revolutionary’ high performance electric bike
We see new e-bike launches practically every week here at Electrek, but we rarely seem something quite so… futuristic looking as the upcoming WAU model currently being teased. The UK-based electric bike company is dripping out imagines of its upcoming Project Cyber, which looks like something between a high performance electric bicycle and a light electric motorcycle.
It’s not uncommon for e-bike companies to expand into the moped or light motorbike space. We watched it happen with SONDORS when the company unveiled the Metacycle, SUPER73 with the C1X, and several other smaller e-bike companies.
And while we don’t yet know how the Project Cyber e-bike will be classified, it’s certainly looking like it could be headed in a similarly aggressive direction.
WAU is best known for its long range, urban-oriented electric bikes with enclosed frames and iconic seat stay tail lights that also serve as highly visible turn signals.
It’s a welcome, distinguished design that sets itself apart from many of the other cookie cutter e-bikes we’ve seen over the last few years.
And it appears that WAU may be sticking with some of the same design language for its upcoming Project Cyber, based on the first few teaser images.
The company has been dripping out images and information in a Facebook group set up for sharing details about the upcoming e-bike.
One of the more revealing pieces of information includes a set of design drawings from early in the project. Multiple concepts can be seen, including some with and without bicycle pedals.
The inclusion of bicycle pedals would lend credence to this being a high performance e-bike, while a lack of pedals would put the two-wheeler into light motorbike territority.
WAU seems to be investing heavily in the bike’s technology, though it isn’t quite clear yet what that could mean in terms of features. Many new e-bikes have started to feature advanced connectivity features closer to that of electric cars, including telemetrics and remote operations. A teaser on the company’s site seems to imply that built-in GPS tracking may be included on the WAU Cyber e-bike.
The company is still playing it close to the vest with most details, but suggests that the new model could “revolutionize the industry.”
As WAU explained in the Facebook group description, “Get ready to be blown away by the most stylish pedelec the world has ever seen. Our state-of-the-art technology and design are set to revolutionize the industry, and we are thrilled to have you join us on this journey.”
The company also released several images showing a prototype frame being welded together, seen below.
We don’t yet know what else the WAU Cyber will hold in store for us, but with the reveal expected to come soon, we shouldn’t have to wait for long.
What do you think WAU will unveil as part of Project Cyber? Share your thoughts and guesses in the comment section below.
We’ll be sure to update as soon as we have more information on the upcoming e-bike.
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