Follow by Email

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Timing is everything...

Whenever I get the chance to speak in the House of Assembly, I do. I do it with gusto, passion and my constituents in mind.

Such was the case when I rose in the House to speak to the budget in 2012. The occasion was to debate government's notion to budget oil at $112 US a barrel.

I remember it well, although in the debate, it was only afterwards you realize that sometimes timing is everything, and that even my own timelines can be set off somewhat. I worried that day over the huge expanse of US domestic production and what it could mean for the province if it kept on the path of budgeting based on future oil output and pricing projections.

It would potentially cost us dearly...

Now, mind you, any government can budget around those numbers and the expectations of the oil markets, but to maintain spending at those levels may be foolhardy. Services like healthcare are still in growing need, schools still need to be replaced and roads built. Expectations are still there...

I argued that day what was starting to happen: that US domestic production of oil was fast increasing to the point that OPEC influence on price would be affected and that we may not see the trend until it hit us where it hurts. My "game day" scenario saw us not budgeting on anything over $100 US a barrel.

In the Muskrat Falls debate later that year in December also saw me using the same points, that we would be better off realizing that the slow climb to Nalcor's $145 US a barrel would be a pipe dream. I argued the case for natural gas onshore for electrical generation, taking stranded gas offshore, and using that also as a source of revenue. Others were shipping and exporting LNG, so why not us, and generate needed electricity as well at the same time?

Again in 2013 budget debate, I argued that Brent should be priced between $95 and $100 US for the fiscal year ending in March. Not a cent above, because of the same US domestic production figures that would affect the markets. US domestic would affect the markets so much, and so much oil would be available, that the price of Brent would be dragged to a lower selling point...

Now it has come to fruition, and there's not a darn thing even OPEC can do about it.  If they cut output, they deprive their citizens of revenue and work. They run the risk of further Middle East instability with OPEC stability itself at question.

Countries worldwide have their own domestic supplies spelled out for them in deep underground shale reserves, and the final arbiter to future prices may be about to speak in the form of China and India. For recently, I think it was back in March of 2012, China entered into an exploration and development agreement with Royal Dutch Shell to develop it's own shale reserves. If you consider that the present US shale explosion only started in 2005, there may be very little time to keep China as a customer for oil and to keep it as an important measure in determining what's left of theories expounding world oil prices. For if China does develop both oil and gas reserves, it would also have broken part of its own dependency on Russia and others from OPEC countries for its important energy needs, and that important factor in "supporting" oil prices removes itself from the markets. And at development costs that range $19US per well, how can they say no?

I'll give China five years to come on-stream.

The same can be said for India, who sit on massive natural shale gas reserves in their northeast region...

Nothing like "self-sufficiency" and a chance at breaking OPEC dependency!...

Are witnessing the death of high oil prices? Other factors have yet to play in the face of the present glut of product. Things like shutting down exploration and development of present finds, changing geo-political situations or economic slowdowns that have yet to play through.

What you're witnessing, as far as I'm concerned, is Big Oil getting a dose of reality; that others outside can now call the shot and determine what prices are good for economic development and consumers alike. It's something that's been missing from the markets since OPEC formed all those years ago, and a lesson that OPEC won't soon forget! Competition...

Nor should we forget.

Just don't lose sight that we're still going to need to develop alternate sources of energy that can completely remove us from fossil fuels. Just because we don't have to pay higher price for oil for a time to come doesn't mean we should lose sight of that. We need alternatives more than ever...

I'll be back later tonight with a post with this Thursday's price changes. Look for all numbers to be down!

Regards,

George Murphy
Twitter @GeorgeMurphyMHA

No comments: