Opinion

Analysis: Things are flat in the Permian, and there's a push for renewables in Santa Fe by Dr. Daniel Fine


The Permian-Delaware Basin rig count should start falling as oil operators, large and small, are flat for 2019.

Spending has been sharply reduced as supply now dominates the A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) used by many commodity traders in oil.   

The large or integrated oil companies have all the rigs of 2018 in place for 2019. This would make October the price peak of the latest boom or recovery in oil. Permian-Delaware Basin production would decline at least 500,000 barrels in 2019 to offset the supply glut and stabilize at $50 per barrel.

OPEC members, notably Saudi Arabia, need a fiscal price of oil of $85 per barrel to pay for government and social spending. But at $60 per barrel, cash flow will not make it.

Its new public relations-lobbying in the U.S will require Sovereign Wealth Fund borrowing at market rates, which will be higher mainly because of U.S Senate sanctions over the murder of a Saudi journalist writing for the Washington Post. 

This writer forecast a 2019 $50 per barrel average price of oil when prices fell to $43.00 last month.   

At the same time, many small and independent producers have break-even at $50 with high-interest debt!

There are Chapter 11 bankruptcies valued at $140 billion from the Panhandle in Texas to the San Juan Basin that resulted from the OPEC -Saudi Arabian price and market share war of 2014-2016 against Southwestern small/independent shale and tight sands producers who now want reparations or damages. 

This could hold up financial public relations as state courts hear from local energy banks and their Chapter 11 or equivalent clients.

 

Saudi Aramco is looking at American LNG investment in the Gulf Coast.
But that would compete against Russian Gazprom export pipeline gas to the European market.  

This would confront Russia with Saudi Arabian conflict and threaten Russian-Saudi Arabian accord in OPEC.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico has announced a target of 50 percent renewable energy in 10 years. Electricity rate payers would bear the cost. She also placed New Mexico in the Climate Change Treaty Camp. However, if the Democratic Party wins the White House in 2020 there is no doubt that Washington will follow Santa Fe and our new governor.  

In the meantime, the new Secretary of Energy Minerals and Natural Resources, Sarah Cottrell Probst, is a world expert in carbon tax architecture to mitigate global warming.   
And there could be trade-offs with the super-majors in the Permian-Delaware basins.
The new Administration is expected to create a new energy policy that will replace the effort of ex- Governor Martinez. One issue that did not appear in 2015 was well-density.

The current company-state conflict centers around increased density because of down-spacing in the sub-surface. The opposition is beyond this specific technical capability: it is about more production of oil and carbon in relation to climate change.   
What happens in New Mexico will have an impact on regulations in other states and, later, in national energy policy.

This column is an independent analysis by Dr. Daniel Fine, who is the associate director of New Mexico Tech's Center for Energy Policy and the State of New Mexico Natural Gas Export Coordinator. The opinions expressed are his own.

 


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