Crude Observations

Striking Climate Striker

Sorry for the late blog this week, I was out participating in a day of action for the environment, otherwise known as the Global Climate Strike. Okay, you got me, no I wasn’t. I was actually out of town briefly to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary.  Doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about the environment though – or climate, as I prepare for the annual Alberta September Snowmageddon (ASS) this weekend with up to 50 cm of snow expected in some parts of Southern Alberta over the weekend.


You see, during the drive out and back to Banff, I did have a lot of time though to reflect on many things climate related and to think on the latest star of the environmental movement, young Greta Thunberg, who, while completely lacking in the funds and media savvy of an Al Gore, has in fact managed to mobilize people into discussing, assessing and ruminating on climate change, even if they are still not yet acting. Well, except Justin Trudeau who I hear met with her in Montreal and promised $3 billion in climate related spending, including the planting of 2 million trees, all to be funded through the TransMountain Pipeline. Now I don’t know what Greta thought of a fossil fuel transportation system being used to fund tree-planting, but it is what it is in Canada and as initiatives go, it’s actually hard to find fault with it.


At any rate, the big stories of the week are to me studies in contrast – on the one hand we have Donald Trump impeachment circus and his mafioso-style shakedown of Ukraine versus the unbridled climate passion of Greta Thunberg, her speech at the United Nations and, of course, the Climate Strike.


Oddly enough, or maybe not, even though I don’t wholly agree with her, I am nonetheless inspired by her courage of conviction and not at all intimidated like so many of my middle-aged white male contemporaries on Fox news seem to be and feel she is newsworthy enough to blog about. Plus, I feel I need to let this Trump thing play out a bit more before I write about it because, well, it’s so bizarre and fluid. And I haven’t yet decided whether it’s a comedy, a farce or a tragedy.


Finally, I think it we can all agree that Greta is also much more interesting and compelling – tomorrow’s news as opposed to last year’s nightmare if you follow.


I would be happy if my daughters shared the passion she displays. Likely they are too young yet and they have yet to find their own personal crusades that I may or may not understand or agree with, but when they do, at least it means that they are thinking.


My only worry is that Greta will be torn apart by the opposing forces swirling around her. The angry cynicism of the anti warming crowd and the shameless exploitation of the environmental existentialists.


She is the manifestation of the helplessness that many of us feel in the face of global events, power seeking politicians and the inability of global leaders to make effective change quickly. She’s a regular kid who suddenly has a voice. A voice of frustration. This isn’t Al Gore preaching and cashing in. This is a kid saying – hey, if this is the crisis everyone is telling me it, do something!


I don’t know if she’ll be effective much past her current 15 minutes of fame or if I agree with what she says in its entirety. But I certainly don’t begrudge her the right to say these things and to those who mock her for being young, or having Aspergers or a weird accent or awkward speaking style in front of a crowd (and who among us doesn’t?) I say stop – it is offensive, shallow and weak and you are the one who needs to grow up.


And what a contrast of maturity and poise between a 16 year old emerging climate activist trying to change the world for the better and a 73 year old man-baby caught trying to shake down another country’s leader in order to dig up dirt on a political rival for his own personal gain.


When it comes to morals, conviction and poise, even if I may not agree with everything she says, I know whose example I want my kids to follow while at the same time encouraging them do study and draw their own conclusions.


As I alluded to above, the one aspect of the Greta story that does gives me great pause is the nihilism in her climate change as Armageddon world view, where it comes from and who is there to exploit her for it. This is something that we, as an adult society, need to take some responsibility for. We use words like crisis, emergency and extinction to score political points and to get attention to a cause, but we do this without giving regard to how this message is received by teenagers and younger children. And we do this at the risk of creating an entire generation convinced we are on a path to extinction as a species when that is 100% untrue.


Children and teenagers are very literal. There isn’t a lot of subtlety borne of life experience in the teenage brain. When someone says the world is going to end in 12 years or climate change is irreversible if emissions aren’t immediately slashed, there is no life experience to draw on for how to assess this. Teenagers are sarcastic and horrible. They are also adversarial to their authority figures and rebellious, often just for the freedom and thrill that gives them. They are also sponges for knowledge and tend to take things at face value. They are also by and large a blank slate, open to suggestion whether from parents, teachers, peers or Snapchat. This often means that when the information is bad or incomplete or biased, they will reflect that. And they are passionate, and that passion can be easily exploited by outside parties.


And this is my fear for Greta. She is smart, there is no doubt. She is committed. We know that. She is passionate. Her speech said that. She seems mature beyond her years. Clearly. But she is still a kid. And lacks the perspective that being subjected to decades of disappointment can afford you. There is nothing subtle about Greta. She is a vessel of anger and frustration and rage. And as such she is incredibly vulnerable. There are people and organizations that will use and exploit her without a second thought to the damage they cause and the wreck they leave behind. I can only hope her parents are attuned to this and can guide her through it. Because this is a bright and passionate voice that we cannot allow to be destroyed by our cynical need to constantly triumph. She is a voice of a group that needs to be heard and I hope it continues, on her terms, not some other “smarter” group.


Conflict, challenge and resolution have combined to create the world we live in. Hopefully the same can combine to create that same result for the world that Greta and my kids, and your kids, inherit from us.


Speaking of conflict, it is curious to me and many others why young Greta is so triggering to a vast rogues’ gallery of anti climate change bad actors. Who are these people? I guess they are the people who either a) don’t believe it man made and therefore can’t be changed (deniers); b) hate kids; or c) (most likely) are busy adjusting their foil hats and are more concerned about battling the global socialist world order than sea level rise in Miami (Fox news).


At any rate, these groups have launched into all manners of attack and attempted shaming of Greta. This is of course puzzling to me because who attacks a child in that fashion? I know, as a father of two daughters, that my reaction to the passion and conviction demonstrated here would not have been “shut up, you’re dumb”, rather it would have been “oh crap, what have I done now, what can I do to fix this” because well, that’s what fathers and parents do.


OK, where am I going with all this. I know what you are thinking – has he gone over to the dark side? Well if by dark side you mean – do I believe the climate is changing and mankind is playing a part in it then sure, dark side it is. But I’ve always been there. If you didn’t think so, you haven’t been following the breadcrumbs. It’s the strident “end of the world” people that I have the problem with as well as the do-nothing people.


We do indeed have a problem. If we didn’t, people like Greta wouldn’t exist. If we didn’t, the IPCC in all its forms (rational and irrational) wouldn’t be issuing all these increasingly dire warnings – many of which are designed to get the international community to take things seriously.


If politicians would get out of their own way, stop worrying about re-election and give up pandering to their global peers with the empty vacuous promises that Greta Lunberg is calling out, there are actually actions that can be taken that don’t require economic suicide.


As it regards fossil fuel consumption (which, let’s admit it, is where all emissions eventually come from), the developed world (think North America, Europe and Japan) has actually been fairly static for many years. On the other hand, the most rapid growth in emissions comes from the developing world where people are trying to lift themselves out of poverty, increase life expectancy and, you know, improve their lives. To get there, consumption of energy per capita must increase – they need to close their energy deficit with the “first world”. To meet that need, notwithstanding all their commitments to electric vehicles and renewables developing countries like China and India are adding coal fired power plants faster than we are decommissioning ours. So rather than banning plastic straws, which won’t move the needle on emissions at all, doesn’t it make way more sense to do something about that, which is where most immediate and lasting impact can be had?


Fortunately, coal can be replaced by natural gas for both existing and future plants. But we need to make it happen. For Canada, it isn’t that hard to see what the lowest hanging fruit is that is available to help address climate change globally. Namely, help China and India replace their coal with natural gas, thus stabilizing emissions growth while buying time for other sources to catch up. It’s the only way.


Will this make Greta happy? Probably not, but she’s smart. She will eventually understand the trade-offs, especially if they can measured in reduced emissions levels as opposed to growing political hot air.


Prices as at September 27, 2019

  • Oil prices are down
    • Storage posted an increase week over week on increased production
    • Rig Counts: Alberta +7; US down week over week
    • Natural gas storage down relative to 5-year avg, but remains higher than this point last year


  • WTI Crude: $55.83 ($58.47)
  • Western Canada Select: $42.98 ($45.42)
  • AECO Spot: $0.8988 ($0.8830)
  • NYMEX Gas: 2.388 ($2.536)
  • US/Canadian Dollar: $0.7549 ($0.7555)



  • As at September 20, 2019, US crude oil supplies were at 419.5 million barrels, an increase of 2.4 million barrels from the previous week and 23.5 million barrels above last year.
    • The number of days oil supply in storage is 24.6 compared to 22.8 last year at this time.
    • Production rose 0.1 million barrels for the week at 12.500 million barrels per day. Production last year at the same time was 11.000 million barrels per day.
    • Imports fell to 6.378 million barrels from 7.050 million barrels per day compared to 7.802 million barrels per day last year.
    • Exports from the US fell to 2.983 million barrels per day from 3.175 million barrels per day last week compared to 2.640 million barrels per day a year ago
    • Canadian exports to the US were 3.438 million barrels a day
    • Refinery inputs fell during the during the week to 16.513 million barrels per day
  • As at September 20, 2019, US natural gas in storage was 3.205 billion cubic feet (Bcf), which is about 47 Bcf lower than the 5-year average and about 444 Bcf higher than last year’s level, following an implied net injection of 74 Bcf during the report week
    • Overall U.S. natural gas consumption fell by 3% during the report week.
    • Production grew 1% for the week. Imports from Canada fell by 6% from the week before. Exports to Mexico increased 6% for the week
    • LNG exports totaled 44 Bcf
  • As of September 27, 2019, the Canadian rig count was up 8 at 127 (AB – 83; BC – 10; SK – 30; MB – 3; Other – 1). Rig count for the same period last year was 213.
  • US Onshore Oil rig count at September 27, 2019 is at 713, down 6 from the week prior.
    • Peak rig count was October 10, 2014 at 1,609
  • Natural gas rigs drilling in the United States was down 2 at 146.
    • Peak rig count before the downturn was November 11, 2014 at 356 (note the actual peak gas rig count was 1,606 on August 29, 2008)
  • Offshore rig count was down 1 at 24.
    • Offshore peak rig count at January 1, 2015 was 55

US split of Oil vs Gas rigs is 83%/17%, in Canada the split is 69%/31%


Trump Watch: This is definitely not what he signed up for

Kenney Watch (new!)Back from the US, let’s loosen up a bit more curtailment

Trudeau Watch (for balance): Election promise – money for… camping?!?!?!

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