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Energy, Security, and Climate

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Showing posts for "Blake Clayton"

Trading Volumes Underscore Brent’s Ascendance as World Oil Benchmark

by Blake Clayton

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent have been locked in a multi-year wrestling match for the exalted status of the definitive world benchmark price of oil. WTI’s glaring deficiencies as a barometer of supply-demand fundamentals in the global crude market, owing to an oversupply of oil at its land-locked pricing hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, have been plain for several years now. But a close look at recent futures trading volumes shows that Brent has steadily surpassed its rival as traders’ preferred way to gain exposure to oil, marking an important moment in the North Sea benchmark’s arrival as the “real” price of oil, at least for now. Read more »

Chavez’s Troubled Legacy for Venezuela’s Oil Industry

by Blake Clayton

The failure of ailing Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to return from Cuba, where he is recovering from another round of surgery, to Caracas for his inauguration underscores the uncertainty of the South American country’s future as a critical oil supplier. Chavez, first elected in 1998 and inaugurated in 1999, rode ultra-low oil prices to power, promising a tougher stance against the majors and a more hawkish voice within OPEC. So how’s the country’s oil industry faring today versus when he entered office? Read more »

Five Critical Questions About the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve

by Blake Clayton

Constant chatter about an impending oil release from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was a prominent feature of the oil market last year. Much of the speculation was driven by the ongoing loss of crude from Iran, due to sanctions, and the possibility of a confrontation with Tehran over its nuclear program, which could have cut off traffic through the vital Strait of Hormuz. Read more »

Drilling into the American Energy Boom, in Four Charts

by Blake Clayton

One interesting feature of the U.S. hydrocarbon boom is the widening gap between the industry’s interest in drilling for oil and other liquids versus dry natural gas. It’s all about economics: the disparity in prevailing market prices and outlook between these commodities is dictating companies’ willingness to sink money into, and bear the risk of, trying to produce them. Read more »

An Update to the EIA’s 2006 Survey of Estimates of the Effect of Oil Prices on the U.S. Economy

by Blake Clayton

Various studies try to quantitatively relate real U.S. GDP growth, employment growth, and changes in consumer price levels to oil prices. For those of you who work on modeling these relationships, here’s an updated survey of studies in the public domain conducted over the last decade or so about how an oil price increase affects real U.S. GDP and the GDP price deflator. I’m putting these data together for some related work I’m doing here at CFR. Read more »

Oil Boom… And Risk Management

by Blake Clayton

A story on NPR yesterday morning, “The Downsides of Living in an Oil Boomtown,” had an interesting portrait of the economic effects of high oil prices and booming oil production on Williston, North Dakota. The frenzied pace of job creation has led to high wages but also high turnover. A leap in demand for local goods like housing has caused massive inflation in housing prices and day care services. A similar story could be told of many other rural communities in states like Pennsylvania and Texas where the ramp up in oil and gas drilling activity has been a sudden shock on an otherwise rather static business scene. Read more »

Three Takeaways From This Week’s OPEC meeting

by Blake Clayton

OPEC ministers met in Vienna on Wednesday to discuss the current oil market outlook and make a decision about future production levels, as well as to select a new secretary general. After deliberating, the group opted not to alter the current production ceiling of 30 million barrels per day (though they are currently pumping more than that). Nor could they agree on a replacement for the current secretary general, Abdalla Salem el-Badr, a Libyan national, choosing instead to extend his tenure an additional year starting next month. Read more »

The Future of Energy Insecurity

by Blake Clayton

A massive cyberattack this summer on Saudi Aramco, Riyadh’s energy giant, left some 30,000-plus of the company’s computers lifeless, making a rather futuristic threat to the oil and gas industry front page news. U.S. Secretary of Defenese Leon Panetta called the attack “probably the most destructive…that the business sector has seen to date.” The Saudis weren’t the only targets. RasGas, a Qatari natural gas company, was also hit. Months later, investigators are still trying to get to the bottom of what happened, and more importantly, why it did, and what can stop it from happening again. Read more »

The Real Reason Energy Traders Are Losing Sleep

by Blake Clayton

What’s roiling the oil market right now? The old familiar source of instability—unrest in the Middle East—is far from the whole story, though it still tends to be the first place Western pundits look when the world’s most important commodity is in turmoil. But this paradigmatic hangover from the 1970s has become less and less adequate. Read more »