What’s Driving Oil Prices Upward?
Oil prices increased this past week despite the Energy Information Administration (EIA) releasing inventory reports showing a surprise build in US crude oil stocks. While geopolitical risk, in the form of potential changes to the Iran Nuclear Agreement encouraged prices to climb last week, a narrative of sustained demand for oil and refined products has persisted thus far into 2018. The general health of the US and global economies has seemingly countered the supply side narratives of the OPEC production agreement and growing US shale production for most of 2018 and is driving prices. According to Goldman Sachs, global oil demand growth through the first quarter of 2018 reached 2.55 million barrels per day during the first quarter of 2018. This growth rate represents the highest year-over-year growth rate since 2010, when the US was coming out of a recession. Seasonality will likely now provide an additional boost to demand, as the US “summer driving season” is just a few weeks away.
San Diego Autonomous Start-Up Logging Level 4 Test Miles
A San Diego-based autonomous truck startup, named TuSimple, has begun logging level 4 autonomous miles in Arizona. TuSimple has logged over 15,000 level 4 miles to date, meaning the technology does not require any action by a human driver and is widely considered the first level of fully autonomous driving. The difference between level 4 and level 5 autonomous vehicles is the presence of a driver onboard the level 4 vehicle.
Chuck Price, TuSimple’s vice president of product, said the company’s advanced vision system uses up to 10 cameras along with sensors, GPS, wave radar units and HD mapping to achieve a sensing range of up to 300 meters – which is three times the range of other units being developed using LiDAR technology. Price believes the technology used in the TuSimple model is superior to its competitors and will improve their speed to market. TuSimple says it has broken autonomous world records for object detection, object tracking and road segmentation.
TuSimple will begin hauling freight for shipper partners later this year, beginning with a fleet of about 25 trucks.
In Other News
TuSimple, a 30-month-old San Diego-based autonomous truck startup, says it is currently testing three Class 8 Peterbilt trucks in Arizona and has already achieved more than 15,000 Level 4 autonomous test miles using its computer vision system.
Suddenly, buses with battery-powered motors are a serious matter with the potential to revolutionize city transport—and add to the forces reshaping the energy industry. With China leading the way, making the traditional smog-belching diesel behemoth run on electricity is starting to eat away at fossil fuel demand.
The refreshed database reveals that there are now at least 76 operational RNG facilities in the United States and Canada, representing 85% growth from the 41 projects that were built between 1982 and 2014.
As OPEC’s efforts to balance the oil market bear fruit, U.S. producers are reaping the benefits – and flooding Europe with a record amount of crude.
At an Alberta oil loading terminal, a convoy of big rigs are gearing up to haul Canadian crude oil hundreds of miles through bone dry fields across the U.S. border into Montana, where the oil will be transferred to pipelines and rail cars headed south and west.
The next moves in crude prices are equally unlikely to be forged by the hands of OPEC, but instead will probably hinge on the strength of U.S. consumers and the health of the global economy.
XPO Logistics Inc. is launching a shared-space distribution operation that will include a network of warehouses and last-mile hubs. Also see, “XPO launches shared-space model for retail distribution”
Last month marked the beginning of trading for the new Shanghai crude oil futures contract in China. According to the EIA, For the Shanghai contract to become an accepted regional benchmark, it will have to attract a wide variety of market participants, and its usage for price discovery must be established.
Soc. Quimica & Minera de Chile SA sits on the world’s richest deposit of lithium. It already produces more than 20 percent of the global supply and is about to produce a whole lot more. SQM will at least double and could eventually quadruple lithium capacity, thanks to recent agreements between the company and the Chilean government.
Maersk CEO Soren Skou said government subsidies are distorting maritime shipping markets and could jeopardize carrier profitability in 2018. Skou’s comments came at a shipping conference in Singapore during a month in which container freight rates have experienced a steep drop. Hyundai Merchant Marine’s order for 20 new mega-containerships earlier in April seemed to have encouraged Skou’s comments. Korea Ocean Business Corp., a company the South Korean government plans to launch in July, will finance 90 percent of the costs of newbuilding and HMM will take the remaining 10 percent.