Oil’s Largest Quarterly Rise Since 2009 | Weekly News Update

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Oil Set for Biggest Quarterly Rise Since 2009

Crude oil surpassed $60 per barrel (bbl) on Friday to make it the largest quarterly rise in a decade.  West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent crude oil started the year at just over $45/bbl and $53/bbl, respectively.  WTI rose nearly $15/bbl or 32 percent and Brent rose roughly $14.50/bbl or  27 percent to close the quarter.  The significant jump in oil prices are mainly due to production cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and supporting nations (OPEC+) and US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.  OPEC+ was set to meet in April to discuss future cuts.  However, the cartel has pushed back the meeting to June partially to wait until the Iranian waivers to expire and to assess if the US will extend or lets the waivers expire.  As a result of higher oil prices, US President Trump tweeted at Saudi Arabia demanding lower oil prices.  President Trump has tweeted at Saudi Arabia and OPEC multiple times over the past year to put pressure on the cartel.  Saudi Arabia has been very open about getting oil prices to $70/bbl, the lowest price point to meet their budget.

Daimler Acquires Majority Stake in Torque Robotics

Daimler Trucks, one of the largest original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in North America, recently acquired a majority stake in Torc Robotics.  Torc is an autonomous technology developer striving to implement Level 4 autonomous technology in real world situations.  Level 4 autonomy allows the vehicle to take full control of the truck without the attentiveness of the driver in certain situations.  Level 4 does allow the driver to intervene when necessary.  The move to acquire a majority stake in Torc, is part of a plan to reach Level 4 autonomy by 2021.  Currently, Daimler trucks can achieve Level 2 autonomy in their newer models of the Freightliner Cascadia, which allows the vehicle to take control of vehicle functions such as accelerating, braking, and steering, while the driver is monitoring the situation.  This move helps drive the path forward to fully autonomous trucks on the road.  To learn more about the levels of autonomy, visit our blog, The 5 Levels of Autonomous Trucking | Making the Leap.

In Other News


CCJ: Three states poised to hike per-gallon fuel taxes

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed this month a law that will increase diesel fuel taxes by 10 cents over the next three years to help pay for infrastructure improvements in the state. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, also this month, signed into law a highway funding plan that will increase diesel fuel prices by six cents.

WSJ: Shell Boosts Bet on North American LNG Exports

Royal Dutch Shell and Energy Transfer said they are pursuing plans to convert a liquefied-natural-gas import facility in Louisiana into an export terminal, a bet that the future of U.S. shale gas lies in selling it for higher prices in overseas markets.

NGI: Lower 48 DUC Count Overstated in EIA Data, Says Raymond James

The large number of drilled but uncompleted wells, aka DUCs, have been overstated in data issued by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), according to analyst J. Marshall Adkins and his team. The data may concern investors, but the underlying data need to be reviewed, analysts said.

Green Biz: Electric buses and trucks charge ahead

At some point, fleet vehicles will electrify more quickly than passenger vehicles. By 2040, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicts that fully 80 percent of the world’s city bus fleets will be electric. That same year, only a third of the world’s passenger vehicles are predicted to be electric.

JOC: Tariff rush drives record LA-LB transloading

The upward trend in Los Angeles-Long Beach toward transloading of containerized imports into domestic containers for shipment inland spiked 5.3 percentage points last year owing to the front-loading of spring merchandise caused by the US-China trade war.

Supply Chain Dive: Shippers flock to trucking spot market amid Midwest floods

Existing flood waters were met with more rain this weekend in Nebraska, where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha said much of the levy system in the area “remains compromised.” Sections of major trucking arteries I-29 and I-680 in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska have been closed for nearly a week, but some parts are beginning to reopen.

Trucks.com: Nikola Closes Land Deal for Arizona Truck Plant

Nikola Motor Co. closed a reported $23-million deal to purchase a 389-acre parcel in central southern Arizona for its hydrogen-electric truck manufacturing plant.


EIA: Permian region crude oil prices have increased with additional pipeline takeaway capacity

Crude oil prices in the Permian region have increased since the beginning of the year as two recent pipeline capacity additions reduced some of the takeaway constraints that developed in the middle of 2018. These transportation constraints had forced producers to use more expensive ways to transport crude oil, resulting in lower received prices.

Supply Chain Dive: Canadian National Acquires Trucking Firm TransX

Canadian National Railway Company acquired Manitoba-based trucking company TransX for an undisclosed sum, according to press releases from both parties. The two freight companies struck a deal in October and confirmed completion last week, having apparently made it through the regulatory hurdles.

FreightWaves: China Trade War Top Concern for US Seaports

Investment in U.S. port infrastructure and the creation of new port jobs is being threatened by uncertainty and delays in U.S.-China trade negotiations, according to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).

JOC: Safety Rules Would Cut Mexican Truck Capacity

Shippers fear that a proposed ban of double-tractor trailers from Mexican roads floated as a safety measure would dramatically reduce the country’s trucking capacity, pushing up rates.

Supply Chain: Electricity costs from battery storage down 76% since 2012: BNEF

The cost of electricity from batteries has decreased by 76% since 2012, making renewable energy combined with battery storage increasingly competitive with coal and gas generation.

ACT News: Making Sense of the Charging Infrastructure Needs for Electric Vehicles

Charging infrastructure has repeatedly been listed as one of the largest unknowns and sources of anxiety for fleets considering near-term adoption of commercial battery electric vehicles.  While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the charging problem, there are some common steps and considerations any fleet can use to help ensure they get the right charging system for their needs.


WSJ: Food Lion, Other Grocers Will Use AI for Food Suppliers

Some of the biggest grocery chains in the U.S. are turning to artificial intelligence to take over the process of ordering food from suppliers.  Grocery chains are rolling out a system aimed at providing a better view of inventory across stores and warehouses, the WSJ Logistics Report’s Jennifer Smith writes, adding demand forecasting in purchasing to the automation that is expanding across the retail world.

Fleet Owner: It’s going to take time to charge up infrastructure

When it comes to charging commercial battery electric vehicles it takes a bit more than plugging them into a wall socket. And while charging CBEVs is not rocket science, the process to get proper infrastructure in place can be time-consuming.

Quartz: The world’s biggest electric-vehicle maker is finally selling more EVs than fossil-fuel cars

China’s biggest electric vehicle maker BYD may finally live up to that label this year.  The group rolled out the world’s first mass-produced (paywall) hybrid a decade ago, but through last year, it still sold more fossil-fuel vehicles annually than new energy vehicles, which includes pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.


JOC: US Import Growth Shifting to Low Single-Digit Pace

Containerized imports are settling into a low single-digit growth rate, after starting the first quarter down 1 percent in the first two months on a year-over-year basis.

WSJ: Florida Power & Light to Build World’ Largest Solar-Powered Battery System

Florida Power & Light said it plans to build the world’s largest battery, which would collect electricity from solar panels during the day and discharge it as needed during periods of high-power demand.

Argus Media: Google, Walmart Help to Launch Renewables Group

Major US corporations have started a trade association focused on helping companies procure renewable energy. Google, Facebook, General Motors and Walmart, as well as about 300 other companies, today publicly launched the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), which aims to bring more than 60GW of new renewables on line by 2025.

JOC: ELD Rule to Reshape Canadian Trucking Market

The potential impact of Canada’s electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is still a cipher, according to one Canadian trucker, but the US ELD mandate had a clear effect on cross-border trucking capacity and Canadian carriers last year.

Trucks.com: Automated Driving Tech to Grow 11.5% per Year Through 2030

The falling costs of advanced safety technology for trucks is helping fleets see the bottom-line benefit, according to a new market analysis from Navigant Research.  Automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist are becoming so popular that Navigant expects advanced driving assistance systems to be about 35 percent of commercial vehicle sales this year.

JOC: Weather, rail service woes cool US intermodal growth

Poor weather, slower train speeds, service reductions, equipment shortage, and a more competitive truck market is poised to pull North American domestic intermodal volume down in the first quarter, which would be the first time traffic has registered a decline since autumn 2016.

WSJ: Trump Taunts OPEC in Tweets as U.S. Officials Court the Cartel

President Trump renewed his push for OPEC to lower oil prices on Thursday. But behind scenes the U.S. has opened a rare dialogue with the leadership of what many have long considered an illegal cartel.


Reuters: Oil set for biggest quarterly rise since 2009 amid OPEC cuts, sanctions

Oil prices rose on Friday amid OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, putting crude markets on track for their biggest quarterly rise since 2009.  Also see, Oil extends Q1 gains on tight supply, economic optimism

HDT: Daimler Trucks Acquires Majority Stake in Torque Robotics

Daimler Trucks has announced a major move toward series production of Level 4 autonomous vehicles with a majority stake acquisition of autonomous technology developer Torc Robotics. The company said the acquisition also signals a move that will make the United States the focus of its efforts to move from Level 2 autonomous truck technology to Level 4 systems sometime after 2021.  Also see, Daimler Announces Push Toward Highly Automated Driving with Majority Stake in Torc Robotics

HDT: DOT Sends Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Hours of Service Reform

Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, today announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Hours of Service (HOS) reform. Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd at the Mid-America Trucking Show, Secretary Chao said the NPRM has been sent to the Office of Management and Budget for consideration.

Transport Topics: Raising Fuel Taxes No Longer a Laughing Matter, Stakeholders Find

Since the start of the 116th Congress in January, the gas tax has been having a moment. At congressional hearings, keynote addresses and panel discussions inside the Beltway and around the country, a significant number of infrastructure proponents have called on transportation policymakers to raise the federal fuel tax.

This weekly publication is designed to highlight relevant industry news to provide professionals in the transportation, supply chain, and energy sectors with up-to-date information in a rapidly changing marketplace. This update is purely a compilation of industry news and as such, does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Breakthrough. We do not warrant or guarantee accuracy or completeness of information. For additional information, please contact us at info@breakthroughfuel.com.

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