This week marked major shifts in the oil marketplace as top oil companies report significantly higher profits than previous years. Support for zero-emissions vehicles continues to increase as a myriad of major cities across the globe sign a “fossil-fuel-free streets” declaration.
Major Oil Companies’ Profits are on the Rise
Multiple oil companies – including ExxonMobil, Total, and Valero – reported 3rd quarter results that are significantly beating their figures from a year ago. This is the latest sign that the oil companies have weathered the storm of the oil price downturn that started in late 2014. The increased profits are a result of a combination of cost cutting measures, efficiency improvements, and oil prices that have been propped up in 2017 thanks in large part to production cuts from OPEC nations. To date, the 2017 price for Brent Crude oil – the international benchmark for oil – has averaged around $52.50 per barrel, which is 19% above the 2016 average. Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum are set to release their Q3 results within the next week, with both companies expected to post similar strong results. Brent crude oil exceeded $60/barrel this week for the first time since July 2015, setting up a positive outlook for oil companies to close the year.
The March Away from Fossil Fuels Continues
2017 has been highlighted by buzz around the future of all-electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as commitments from multiple countries to move away from fossil fuels and internal combustion engines within the next few decades. This week has furthered this move, as commitments to zero-emissions vehicles have been made by 12 major cities around the world. The mayors of London, Paris, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Quito, Vancouver, Mexico City, Milan, Seattle, Auckland, and Cape Town signed the C40 Fossil-Fuel-Free Streets Declaration on October 23rd. The C40 pledges the procurement of only zero-emission buses starting 2025 and commitment to making a major area of their city zero emissions by 2030.
Daimler also introduced their E-Fuso Vision One truck this week, a vehicle with a range of roughly 200 miles and payload capacity of about 11 tons. The E-Fuso is intended for urban freight delivery, which could work nicely with the cities listed above that will move towards zero-emissions. The commercialization of these vehicles will still be a few years out, as will widespread infrastructure of fast-charge stations throughout major cities, but it is another step forward for electric vehicles. Daimler’s latest vehicles release comes ahead of the much-anticipated Tesla Semi unveiling, which was once again pushed back to mid-November.
In Other News
Unplanned global supply disruptions fell to 1.6 million barrels per day (b/d) in September, the lowest level since January 2012.
Starting on Monday, drivers in the center of the British capital whose cars do not meet European Union emissions standards had to pay an additional daily penalty. Affected drivers will be charged £10 per day for driving in the city center.
Refinery runs in the Gulf Coast had been higher than the five-year range for much of 2017 until Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25th. The first Weekly Petroleum Status Report from the US Energy Information Administration showed runs had decreased 3.2 million b/d during the week immediately following the storm. Average refinery runs finished the week of October 20th at 8.8 million barrels per day (b/d), or about 324,000 b/d higher than the previous five-year range for mid-October. The week of October 20th represents the first week that production has returned near pre-storm levels.
The Pallister government’s carbon pricing plan will cost Manitobans more in tax up front but less over the long term than what Ottawa is requiring.