Column: Petroleum market is beginning to hear echoes of coal’s death

LAUNCESTON, Australia (Reuters) – If 2020 had actually been anything close to a typical year, the oil and gas industry would have simply concluded its annual event in Singapore, more than likely reassured of its continuous necessary role in mankind’s future.

An undated picture shows the Iranian-owned Sabiti oil tanker cruising in Red Sea. National Iranian Oil Tanker Business through WANA (West Asia News Company

However this is far from a typical year, and the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC) was a virtual occasion for the very first time in its 36- year history.

While the various mixer and the bonhomie of overtaking old coworkers was unquestionably missed out on, the event did manage to provide a platform for the industry to analyze how it’s going throughout the unique coronavirus pandemic.

If the wide variety of views can be summed up, the market understands it remains in the worst situation in generations as far as need goes, which there is significant uncertainty over how the circumstance will unfold in coming months.

The problem for the crude market is that it can’t truly anticipate the need side of the equation with any precision, given the uncertain nature of the healing from the pandemic.

A widely-implemented and successful vaccine would certainly be bullish, however there is no certainty that this will happen, and no conclusive timeline even if a vaccine that works is established.

The threat of second-, or perhaps third-wave outbreaks of COVID-19, the disease triggered by the coronavirus, likewise hangs over the demand equation.

At finest, the market believes the huge overhang of petroleum currently stockpiled worldwide will start to draw by the end of the year.

At the APPEC event, hosted by S&P Global Platts, some optimism was expressed by Russell Hardy, the president of significant oil trader Vitol, who said that oil demand in transport sectors, with the exception of jet fuel, might return to pre-pandemic levels by the 4th quarter of 2021.

” The marketplace is gradually chewing through that excess inventory,” he stated, adding that about 300 million barrels have been drawn down from this year’s peak.

Hardy was one of the more bullish speakers at the occasion, however even his scenario is for a go back to “regular” in a year’s time.

LONG-LASTING SPLIT

Where the market appeared even less certain was the long-term outlook, and whether BP Plc might be correct in suggesting that oil demand has actually currently passed its peak.

Approximately speaking, 2 unique camps are emerging. The first sees oil and gas as an industry that will undoubtedly decline as the world changes to renewables in a bid to combat climate change, while the 2nd sees a growing function for nonrenewable fuel sources as the international population expands and hundreds of millions of people look for to join the energy-intensive middle classes, specifically in Asia and Africa.

” Everybody’s discussing this great reset … What do we need to do to survive this?” Arif Mahmood, executive vice president and CEO of downstream at Malaysian state producer Petronas, told the conference.

” Energy transition will be pushed forward much faster,” he concluded, but he stated Petronas was sticking to what he called its “gas program.”

There was an unexpected quantity of assistance for carbon capture and storage (CCS), with executives from Royal Dutch Shell, Citigroup and Vitol all stating it should belong to future carbon mitigation.

CCS, nevertheless, has actually been the next huge thing for rather a long time, but has actually up until now failed to draw in adequate investment, or shown cost-efficient results, as the coal industry can testify.

The problem for oil industry executives is that they are starting to seem like their coal equivalents of a years earlier.

The coal argument then, especially in Asia, was that their fuel was cheap and reputable, which concerns over environment change were overblown.

What has taken place because is that coal is no longer cheap versus renewables in much of Asia, and is even resisting liquefied gas (LNG) in some countries.

There are also enigma over the long-term reliability of top coal exporter Indonesia, provided its domestic appointment policies. Add to this the hazard of carbon border taxes, and coal is quickly losing its edge, specifically for nations that have to import.

Just as the coal industry didn’t see renewables, cheap gas and rising environmental activism as a problem, some in the oil and gas industry are making the exact same mistakes.

Betting on increasing oil demand development is now effectively stating that international lorry makers will fail in their multi-billion dollar investments to shift to electric vehicles and trucks, that renewables will not continue to get cheaper and simpler to keep, that carbon taxes will not continue to increase or end up being more extensive.

It’s also perhaps a bet that rightwing populist, nationalistic and environment modification denying political leaders will continue to command electoral success, although history recommends that power tends to swing backward and forward in democracies over time.

The viewpoints revealed here are those of the author, a writer for Reuters.

Modifying by Richard Pullin

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Swedes to construct wind-powered transatlantic cargo ship (yes, it’s a sailboat)

Wind is terrific. It’s showing to be one of the most beneficial forms of renewable energy of our generation and is assisting nations lower dependence on coal and nonrenewable fuel sources to produce power.

When it pertains to wind, for the most part we require to utilize massive turbines to transform moving air into kinetic energy that can then be converted into electrical energy utilizing inverters and generators. That power then finds its method directly to the grid to charge our electric cars and boats, or we can store it in batteries to utilize later.

That’s all type of troublesome, it takes a lot of time and energy to develop wind farms and infrastructure, which then comes with a maintenance overhead. Picture if we might harness the power of wind straight.

[Read: Are EVs too expensive? Here are 5 common myths, debunked]

Consider it, why invest all that time and money when we can just have our cars or boats moved forward by the wind?

We might put big pieces of product, like repaired kites, to catch the wind and drag ourselves forward. That’s what one group of Swedish engineers has done with its latest car transporting sea vessel.

A Swedish consortium including the KTH Royal Institute of Innovation in Stockholm, maritime consultancy SSPA, and lead by ship designers Wallenius Marine has developed the wind Powered Car Provider, or wPCC for short.

sweden, wpcc, wind powered, boat, ship
Credit: wPCC – Wallenius Marine
The wPCC uses four sails or wings installed on its roofing to capture the wind and propel it forward. It’s not as quick as fossil fuel cargo ships, however it’s substantially greener.

It’s a transatlantic ship efficient in carrying approximately 7,000 vehicles and reducing emissions for the crossing by 90%. And it’s powered directly by wind. Take a look at those huge fins on top of it, I’m going to call them sails.

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The consortium reckons that the wPCC should be prepared for its maiden cruising trip by2024 Hopefully, it’ll still be windy already.

The only disadvantage of utilizing wind power is that it will take about twice as long to cross the Atlantic. Generally, freight ship journeys take 7 days, the wPCC would take about 12.

For security factors, and for getting in and out of harbor, the boat does have extra engines. It appears the boat’s designers are yet to totally nail down this aspect, however it will hopefully utilize electric motors to keep its sustainable principles.

Designers state its 200 meters long, 40 meters broad, and 100 meters high, including the sails. That’s a little much shorter than the typical container ship, however far taller. The sails themselves are about 80 meters high.

If you want to follow the development of the wPCC, you can keep up to date over on the Wallenius Marine blog

While the consumer world is advancing to cleaner forms of transport, the business world is still lagging behind, particularly sea-bound haulage. It’s great to see such development to create sustainable transportation of the future.

Honestly, I can’t think we didn’t think about this quicker. Oh, wait …

HT– The Driven

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We’re now as much as 9 cruise lines that have resumed minimal sailings. Here, the complete list

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Is Carnival Stock a Buy?

The cruise company is facing an extended pause as the pandemic rages on, even while some of its brands resume sailing next month.

Royston Yang

With the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, the cruise industry is facing a historically tough challenge. As numerous countries imposed lockdowns and closed borders, cruise companies joined airlines in grounding their fleets as cancellations mounted with alarming speed. Carnival (NYSE:CCL), a leading player in the cruise industry with nine different cruise brands, was no exception. The company had to deal with a slew of cancellations and a plunge in forward bookings as people canceled their vacation plans to instead hunker down at home.

Carnival’s recent earnings report demonstrates the financial damage wrought by the coronavirus. For the second quarter of 2020, passenger ticket revenue plunged by 86.3% year over year to just $446 million, while total revenue declined by a sharp 84.7% year over year to $740 million. The company reported an operating loss of $4.2 billion for the quarter, though part of the loss can be attributed to goodwill and other impairments amounting to close to $2 billion.

Carnival’s stock price has plunged 69% year to date, although it has almost doubled from the low of around $8 back in early April. Could the shares present great value for the astute investor?

A front view of a cruise ship in the water

Image source: Getty Images.

Industrywide pause

It has been a long and painful wait for cruises to be able to restart, as the pandemic continues to rage through the U.S. and worldwide. Just last week, members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced the decision to voluntarily extend the pause in U.S. cruise embarkations until Oct. 31, 2020. This means that Carnival had to cancel all cruises that were set to depart the country in October.

To ensure guests retain confidence in Carnival’s brand and continue to make new bookings, the company has had to offer guests the flexibility of requesting either an enhanced future cruise credit (FCC) or cash refunds. An enhanced FCC can increase the value of an original booking or provide additional onboard credits.

Although the issuance of an FCC helps to retain customers and minimizes disgruntlement, it could come at a very steep cost for the cruise company in the future.

Sufficient liquidity

The company has estimated that its monthly cash burn rate for the second half of 2020 will be approximately $650 million, with the bulk made up of ongoing ship operating and administrative expenses, interest expense, and committed capital expenditures. Fortunately, Carnival has managed to raise over $10 billion through a series of financing transactions, and it also expects to continue reducing its administrative expenses and newbuild capital expenditures for the rest of the year.

Also, the company has $8.8 billion of committed export credit facilities available to continue funding ship deliveries through 2023. Carnival continues to actively manage its fleet, last month announcing plans for its second LNG Excel Class ship, confirmed for November 2022 delivery. And in June, it reported headway in the construction of a new, 5,000-passenger mega cruise ship called the Mardi Gras. These new vessels are being prepared for guests once cruises are allowed again by the CLIA, showcasing management’s long-term commitment to fleet renewal.

Several cruise brands restarting operations

There has been some positive news this month, though, as some of Carnival’s cruise brands gear up to resume sailing in September. AIDA Cruises will resume operations starting Sept. 6, with the first ships sailing from German ports. Costa Cruises is planning to restart its operations from Italian ports that same day, following the Aug. 11 approval by the Italian government on the resumption of cruises and new health protocols.

However, other brands such as Holland American Line and P&O Cruises continue to wait for clearance to begin operations, with cruises canceled for the rest of this year.

A long and uncertain wait

Although there are spots of good news amid the slew of bad ones, it’s not enough to convince investors that the worst is over. The pandemic situation does not appear to be improving, and even if a vaccine is found, the industry will not be shifting back to prepandemic levels anytime soon.

Although Carnival’s brand remains strong and guests have prebooked tours to sail starting in 2021, significant uncertainty revolves around the company’s cost structure and expenses load post-pandemic. As it stands, it’s probably better to adopt a wait-and-see stance to see how things pan out.


Royston Yang has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Carnival. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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