Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Dragon Produces a Lot of Oil, and Gets Rich Doing It

Many people complain about how much oil China uses. But they forget that Chinese production has been steadily increasing, and they're making a lot of money in the process. Today, the news came out that PetroChina surpassed GE to become the 2nd-largest company in the world by market capitalization (behind ExxonMobil).

Consequently, what China does with its consumption AND production is relevant to the world of energy. Is this news a sign of things to come?

Oil Prices keep rising: $88/barrel at noon today

According to Bloomberg's energy page, oil prices jumped about another $2/barrel today, reaching $88/barrel at noon today. These high prices set the stage for the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) conference taking place this week in Houston.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Energy prices are putting cost pressure on food and consumer goods

No surprise here.

Last week the Austin American-Statesman reported that rising grain and energy prices are pushing up the bills for groceries for two reasons: 1) as energy prices go up, it becomes more expensive to produce food because of the petroleum and natural gas that goes into fertilizers, pesticides and mechanized agriculture, and 2) our fetish for ethanol is pushing up grain prices and consequently feed prices are higher.

Today, the New York Times is reporting that higher energy costs are pushing up producer prices for goods other than food, primarily becuase the cost of the raw materials (e.g. crude oil for plastics, etc.) have increased.

These higher prices come at an inopportune time for the markets, but might help the U.S. transform its economy into one that emphasizes resource efficiency.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Importance of Cushing

Why on earth is Cushing, Oklahoma so important to world energy markets? The answer: because it's home to a major oil depot that holds approximately 10% of the nation's non-Strategic stockpiles (about 32 out of 320 million barrels, depending on the season). See this article in the Wall Street Journal for more information: Where has all the oil gone?

Consequently, the price for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light, sweet crude as delivered to Cushing has become one of the global oil price benchmarks. For example, indexes of energy prices often include "WTI Cushing Spot" as one of the standard listings. Here's the way it's listed at Bloomberg news: Bloomberg Energy Prices

Interestingly enough, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Cushing's inventories are much lower than normal because today's spot prices are higher than the prices for future delivery.