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Pump jacks operate in front of a drilling rig in an oil field in Midland, Texas.
Nick Oxford | Reuters

A panic-induced sell-off in the oil market triggered by virus concerns has thrown the commodity’s upward march into question — but energy experts at Goldman Sachs don’t appear to be rattled.

Fears over the surging delta coronavirus variant and a fresh supply boost agreement from OPEC+ sent oil prices tumbling down more than 7% as the trading week opened Monday.

The drop was the steepest since March, a rude awakening for oil bulls who’d been enjoying the commodities’ highest prices in 2½ years.

International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $68.42 a barrel at 2:15 p.m. in London on Tuesday, down just over 7% from its Friday close of $73.59 a barrel. 

Oil analysts were quick to stress the uncertain road ahead for demand as new waves of Covid-19 infections ― many among communities that have high vaccination rates ― threaten the recent months of economic recovery.

“The market is clearly unsettled about the demand outlook. And rightly so. The rise in delta variant cases is raising questions about the sustainability of demand,” Stephen Brennock, a senior analyst at PVM Oil Associates in London, wrote in a research note Tuesday entitled “Oil takes a beating.”

But analysts at Goldman Sachs led by Senior Commodity Strategist Damien Courvalin see the current setback as merely a speedbump, with little concrete reason for oil bulls to be worried.

Supply driving the bulls?

Oil balances globally are tighter than they were before, despite the agreement between OPEC and its allies over the weekend to cumulatively increase crude production by 400,000 barrels a day on a monthly basis beginning in August. 

The International Energy Agency estimated a 1.5 million barrel per day shortfall for the second half of this year compared to its demand predictions in the absence of an OPEC supply deal.

And Goldman predicts the impact from delta to be in the neighborhood of “a potential 1 mb/d  (million barrels per day) hit for only a couple months, and even less if vaccines prove effective at lowering hospitalizations in DMs (developing markets), the origin of most summer demand improvements,” as per its latest report. 

Goldman’s call is in line with its previously bullish stance, which saw it forecasting Brent hitting $80 per barrel in the second half of this year.

The optimistic recovery outlook, paired with what it sees as a “slower” production ramp-up than expected from OPEC and tighter supply, so far means that “our constructive view on oil prices remains intact.” But the immediate-term demand hit from delta fears triggered a swap in the lender’s quarterly forecasts: It now expects Brent to average $75 per barrel in the third quarter of this year and only reach $80 by the fourth quarter.

“Oil prices may continue to gyrate wildly in the coming weeks given the uncertainties of the Delta variant and the slow velocity of supply developments,” Goldman’s analysts wrote. 

Nonetheless, they continued, “we believe that the oil market repricing to a higher equilibrium is far from over, with the bullish impulse shifting from the demand to the supply side.” 

The China factor

A less talked-about factor in the future demand picture is the world’s biggest oil customer: China. The recovery of the planet’s second-largest economy is showing signs of losing momentum, which would throw a major wrench in the trajectory for crude.  

China’s crude imports were down 2% in May from the previous month and the lowest monthly volume since the year began, according to PVM Associates, falling to 9.77 million barrels per day. In July, they fell further to 9.55 million barrels per day, according to Refinitiv Oil Research. The country’s imports for the first half of 2021 were down 3% from the same period in 2020, and the first contraction of that level since 2013.

“China’s latest GDP data suggest the nation’s V-shaped economic rebound from Covid-19 is cooling,” PVM’s Brennock wrote. “More worryingly, recent customs data out of China is giving the market some mixed signals that are tilted to the bearish side.”

The confluence of uncertain demand due to the delta variant, cooling import levels from China and re-introduced supply from OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, suggest bearish signals to the market. But how long the uncertainty will last and whether national vaccine campaigns can offset the mutating virus will ultimately drive the demand picture. In the meantime, supply dynamics, particularly current inventory tightness, continues to give some fuel to the oil bulls.  

“Questions are being asked whether the recently announced increase in OPEC+ supply will overwhelm the recovery in demand,” Brennock wrote. “Currently, this seems unlikely, although the evidence from the world’s top oil importing nation appears to favour the bearish narrative.”

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Would you rather have one $50k EV or 50 of these $1k Chinese electric cars

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Would you rather have one k EV or 50 of these k Chinese electric cars

Panning for gold in Alibaba’s electric vehicle catalog is bound to find some real doozies, such as this week’s Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week. Meet this fun little purple three-wheeled electric car that barely manages to fulfill the requirements of a car.

The “Minitype 3 Seater Passenger Electric Passenger Tricycle” is quite a mouthful of a name, but what’s really important here are the specs.

With a single driver’s seat up front and a narrow bench in back, there is theoretically space for three souls aboard this thing. There’s no steering wheel up front, though. Instead, drivers operate the handlebar that controls the front wheel through a fork instead of traditional automotive linkage to two wheels. Think of it like an enclosed tuk-tuk.

That’s probably fine based on the rather low performance of the machine, reaching just 40 km/h (25 mph) and likely taking its sweet time to do so.

It may not seem spacious, but this is one of those “the seats go aaaalllllllllll the way back” kind of cars. Or at least, the one seat.

I’m not sure what kind of freedom or bonus points that buys you, unless your date is super into trikes. But let’s just say that the car is doing everything it can to be a good wingman for you.

If you can’t pick up chicks in this babe magnet, then you’re obviously doing something wrong.

The coolest part about this thing though is the price. Sure, if you try to buy just a single car then it’s a bit expensive at US $1,200. But if you’ll take 15 units then you can knock that price down to $1,100. An order of up to 49 gets you down to an even $1,000.

So which would you rather have? One $50k electric car or 50 $1k electric cars? Well let me answer that for myself with another question. How easy is it to start a Chinese EV racing league in your backyard track with just one $50k EV?

Ok, jokes aside, please don’t anyone try to actually order one of these. This glorified mobility scooter is likely sans batteries for that price, plus you’ll absolutely spend several times the supposed purchase price just to try and get it shipped out of China.

Then there’s the wrinkle of these not being street-legal anywhere outside of China, and potentially not even there.

So let’s just enjoy them from the safe distance of our computer screens, shall we? In the meantime, I’ll appreciate even more the electric mini-truck I actually DID buy from China.

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GE scraps plans to make giant 18 MW offshore wind turbines

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GE scraps plans to make giant 18 MW offshore wind turbines

GE Vernova is abandoning plans to supersize its offshore wind turbines and will instead focus on rolling out smaller “workhorse” turbines.

In March of last year, GE Vernova CEO Scott Strazik said during a GE Investor Conference that the market was receptive to larger variants of the company’s Haliade-X offshore wind turbines: “Now we are getting a very positive reception from the market with our 17 to 18 MW Haliade-X variant off of what we’re shipping this year.”

However, GE Vernova has decided to shelve that idea for the future. Parent company GE writes in its US Securities and Exchange Commission EX-99 that its Haliade-X platform has included “offerings available from 12 MW to 18 MW with estimated capacity factors ranging from 60% to 64%.” It continued:

One Haliade-X 13 MW turbine can power the equivalent of up to 16,000 European homes.

…We believe the future of our offshore wind business will be the Haliade-X 15.5 MW-250, a workhorse product.

The company made project losses in its offshore wind business last year. It expects margins to remain challenged in 2024 as it executes its Haliade-X backlog, “which will require significant cash use and working capital.” However, GE anticipates working capital dynamics and margins to improve beyond 2024.

The 800 MW Vineyard Wind I project off the Massachusetts coast consists of GE’s 13 MW Haliade-X turbines.

Read more: 5 wind turbines just came online at Massachusetts’ first offshore wind farm


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Jeep’s first EV will land in the US as early as July, electric Wrangler-like Recon to follow

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Jeep's first EV will land in the US as early as July, electric Wrangler-like Recon to follow

The first all-electric Jeep could be delivered to US customers as soon as July. According to new CEO Antonio Filosa, production of Jeep’s first EV, the Wagoneer S SUV, is expected to begin in Q2. Deliveries could happen as soon as the third quarter. Jeep’s CEO also confirmed we may see the electric Wrangler-like Recon launch by the end of the year.

The first Jeep EV could reach US buyers as early as Q3

After slashing prices amid slumping sales Friday (including up to $4K on its best-selling Grand Cherokee), Filosa admitted more needs to be done to fend off incoming competition.

Jeep is facing new rivals like the Rivian R1S, which was the seventh best-selling EV in the US last year. Volkswagen’s off-road Scout brand is also set to launch its first EVs soon.

Jeep’s first EV in the US, the Wagoneer S SUV, is expected to enter production in the second quarter. Filosa said the first deliveries could happen as early as the third quarter. Ahead of its official launch, Jeep is hyping the electric SUV with new teasers.

You can see Jeep’s iconic design evolving as it shifts to electric. Jeep claims the Wagoneer S will be “lightning fast,” packing 600 hp for a 0 to 60 mph sprint in 3.5 seconds.

Jeep-Wagoneer-S-leaked
Jeep Wagoneer S electric SUV teaser (Source: Jeep)

It will be the first EV based on parent company Stellantis’ new STLA Large platform. Jeep aims for around 400 miles range, rivaling Rivian’s R1S.

Jeep also showed the first glimpse of the EV’s interior, which has plenty of buttons and digital screens. You can see a custom driver control center with Jeep’s signature Selec-Terrain toggle.

It also includes a standard dual-pane panoramic sunroof and a premium 19-speaker McIntosh audio system.

Jeep’s electric Wrangler-like Recon launching soon

Filsosa confirmed Jeep’s electric Wrangler-like Recon could launch by the end of the year, although the timing is still unclear.

We’ve already seen a sneak peek of the Recon Moab 4xe after images leaked out of a dealer event in Las Vegas.

Jeep's-electric-Wrangler-like-Recon
Jeep Recon Moab 4xe (source: Jeep Recon Forum)

The Recon will be a “rugged and fully capable electric SUV” inspired by the off-road Jeep Wrangler. Previous head of Jeep North America, Jim Morrison, said the Recon EV “has the capability to cross the mighty Rubicon Trail.” Not only that, it will “reach the end of the trail with enough range to drive back to town and recharge,” Morrison claimed.

Jeep's-electric-Wrangler-like-Recon
2024 electric Jeep Recon (Source: Stellantis)

Filosa confirmed the Recon will also be based on the STLA Large platform, suggesting at least 600 hp is likely.

The platform serves between 85 and 118 kWh battery pack options with up to 500 mi (800 km) range for sedans. It will also come with 400V and 800V options.

Stellantis claims the platform includes “extreme power,” claiming it will “outperform any of the existing Hellcat V-8s.” More powerful models can sprint from 0 to 62 mph (0-100km/hr) in the 2-second range, according to Stellantis.

According to the new UAW agreements, an electric Jeep Wrangler is also expected to launch, but not until 2028. Jeep’s best-selling Grand Cherokee will also get an all-electric option around 2027.

Source: Detroit News

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