In addition to other profound impacts, the corona virus has offered global energy markets an unprecedented natural experiment. Collapsing demand for conventional energy fuels and inelastic supply responses have depressed oil prices that are now being incorporated into forward energy planning. This adverse investment accelerator effect is now expected to bring forward the so-called “peak oil” milestone, significantly shortening the profitable lifecycle of known oil reserves. Thus a global health crisis has given us only a foretaste of what we can expect over a longer time horizon, as climate risk continues a slower but more inexorable ascent. Simply put, the rising social cost of carbon will exert the same effect on conventional energy demand, compounded by the emergence of ever more affordable renewable substitutes. Furthermore, the international push for a ‘green recovery‘ in the aftermath of the pandemic is perceived to hasten the end of the oil era. Oyuna Baldakova and David Roland-Holst report
Mexico’s government has had a bad corona run. The pandemic hit the country when the economy was already shrinking. But instead of profiting from the resulting drop in electricity demand of 9 percent in order to speed up the expansion of renewables and the much needed modernization of his country’s energy sector, President Lopez Obrador – widely referred to as AMLO – is instead sticking to the country’s outdated and failing CO2-heavy energy system. Rebecca Bertram takes a look.
Despite the recent historic agreement between OPEC, Russian, American and other global oil producers to slash supply by the 1st of May with the hopes of bolstering prices, the United States will still suffer an “unprecedented” economic blow according to the International Energy Agency. With high production costs and deeply in debt, many U.S. producers, especially those extracting from shale fields, are bleeding cash as they try desperately to cut costs. Output is expected to shrink by more than two million barrels per day. Analysts predict waves of bankruptcies, along with thousands of job losses and steep drops in tax revenues for oil-dependent states as the fallout from a monster oil bust ripples throughout America’s already staggering economy. L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews the worsening situation.
Over the last two centuries, energy trade has become increasingly global. Where wood was found and used locally, coal was mined and transported nationally, and oil emerged as a global commodity. Natural gas is also moving from regional markets to the global shipping of LNG. The same holds for energy demand, which is growing and shifting Southward, away from traditional OECD markets, to China, India, South-East Asia and Africa, as the International Energy Agency (IEA) confirms in its findings. Renewable energy harbors a number of characteristics that could potentially end this trend of increasingly global energy trade. Just Voskuyl and Daniel Scholten take a critical look at the bigger picture.
Overshadowed by the pandemic, an oil production and price war waged between the Saudi Arabian-led OPEC, Russia, the U.S. and other nations has landed a body blow upon the already weakened global economy. With billions worldwide now sheltering in place, oil usage has dropped by over 30%. But production hasn’t. The massive oversupply has crashed market prices lower than at any point in almost 20 years. To stop the bleeding, OPEC and other producers as well as the G20 have seemingly come to an historic deal that will slash global production across the boards. But the damage to the underlying fossil-fuel based economy means that Corona’s economic wreckage will ripple out just as we start to emerge into a brave new social-distance demanding world. L. Michael Buchsbaum examines the origins and implications of the Corona oil crash.
Although Trump keeps pushing lumps of coal and tankers full of freedom gas down the world’s collective throats, his industry-friendly administration hasn’t prevented America’s coal industry from dying or its fracking companies from losing piles of money. Nor has he stopped wind from gaining even more traction. After setting growth records last year, another breakthrough is forecast for 2020 as investors pour resources into new waters: offshore wind energy. But fearing its tremendous potential energy capacity, Trump’s minions are ramping up efforts to hold it back. As election fever grips the nation, L. Michael Buchsbaum looks at the state of offshore wind in Part 3 of his series on America’s energy transition.
Though fracking enabled the U.S. to finally re-achieve the long held conservative dream of energy independence, the ever-increasing volume of fracked fossil gas flowing out of the U.S., has led to an international glut as prices continue to fall. Now neck-deep in debt and historically unprofitable, pure play gas frackers are starting to struggle. Mass bankruptcies, shut-ins, and layoffs are likely. But Trump’s evisceration of environmental protection laws combined with ludicrously low liability bonds virtually ensures the public will be stuck with the clean up bill. Michael Buchsbaum explains.
Latin America has a long and bloody history of extractivism. The rivalry over natural resources, such as sugar, copper and oil has for many years pitted large multinational corporations – usually backed by state authorities – against local communities, often indigenous groups. It is not difficult to guess who won most of these struggles. That is why it is so newsworthy that an oil drilling project in the Amazon was recently abandoned due to indigenous protests. Rebecca Bertram reports
Published jointly by Break Free From Plastic, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and the German Association for the Environment and Nature (BUND), the new report portrays a startling window into the toxic deluge fouling our planet. In just 60 years over 8.3 billion tons of petroleum-based plastics have been produced worldwide – more than one ton per person living on earth today. But only 10% has been recycled. As new production rates are accelerated by cheap fracked gas, the only solution is to drastically reduce our dependency. Buchsbaum reviews the Atlas’ findings.
As utilities across Europe make the switch from coal to gas, CO2 emissions there are falling. But on the other side of the Atlantic, ever-rising fracking production deteriorates air and water quality, impacting public health. Buchsbaum reports from Colorado where ozone and other industry associated pollutants regularly makes outdoor exercise dangerous.