The oil world turned upside down–and how to invest in the rise of the U.S. to top global producer by 2017
Five years ago I never imagined I’d type these words.
By 2017 the United States will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer.
In addition, according to the International Energy Agency, by 2015 the United States will overtake Russia to become the world’s largest natural gas producer.
The United States is now the fastest-growing oil and natural gas producer in the world. During the last five years, according to Citigroup, the United States has added 2.59 million barrels a day to total production.
You’d think there’s an investable angle there somewhere.
I can think of two. No make that three.
First, there are the stocks of the companies that are responsible for this huge surge in U.S. production.
Second, there are the stocks of the companies that will make money from solving the current bottleneck in getting this supply to market.
Third, there are the sectors in the U.S. economy that will reap benefits from lower U.S. energy prices beyond the general advantage flowing to the U.S. economy from lower energy costs.
Let me start with the general picture and then move to individual sectors and trends. Read more
ExxonMobil (XOM) will buy XTO Energy (XTO) for $31 billion in stock. (ExxonMobil will also assume $10 billion in XTO Energy debt.)
This acquisition is just the latest example of a shift among the international energy majors from exploration and development for oil in risky new geologies and tough climates to a concentration on predictable, low-production cost assets such as onshore U.S. reserves of natural gas locked up in shale formations such as the Barnett shale formation of Texas.
I flagged that trend for you in two posts earlier this month. You’ll find links to those columns later in this post. Read more
The return of the oil shortage–around 2015–and why the industry’s logical decisions now will make it worse
Devonshire Energy’s decision to sell its expensive to develop deepwater assets in the Gulf of Mexico in order to concentrate on its onshore natural gas reserves makes perfect sense.
For that company.
For the oil industry and for the global economy picture, though, could make the predicted energy crisis of 2015 or so much worse.
In the short-term, there’s plenty of oil. The slowdown in the global economy and the addition of new supplies from countries such as Angola assures that. OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) has a sizable surplus of production capacity.
In the long-term the story is very, very different. In the long-term, say 2030, oil could be in serious shortage again. And I think the likely effects of that shortage now 20 years off will be felt much sooner thanks to perfectly reasonable decisions by individual oil companies to maximize their profits. Maybe as soon as 2015.
If you are a genuinely long-term investor I’ve got a three stocks to suggest at the end of this post for how to profit from what is admittedly a very distant trend. Even if you’re not interested in putting money to work on prospects that are so far away, I think knowing about this trend will give you potentially profitable context for all your investments. Read more
When I added ExxonMobil (XOM) to Jubak’s Picks on December 23, 2008, I thought it was a reasonable way to balance risk and reward. The stock was a good way to reach for some upside return in case the global economy—and oil prices—rebounded more quickly than I expected in 2009, while at the same time using ExxonMobil’s dividend to give me some protection against the risk that oil prices would tumble further.
For much of 2009 the stock lagged the market but I was content to collect my dividend while waiting for shares to get moving.
But recently ExxonMobil has also started to lag the rest of the energy sector. For example, the gain on ExxonMobil since my December 23 purchase until September 16 is a loss of 7.18% (excluding dividends). Devon Energy (DVN), a stock without the downside protection of an ExxonMobil, is up 14% in that period. Almost all of Devon Energy’s outperformance has come since August 1. Read more
Some company will eventually make a killing from today’s collapse in natural gas prices.
But when? And which company?
Value investors usually only need to identify a bargain and then hang on until the rest of the stock market catches up with their thinking. But the plunge in natural gas prices has been so severe and could last so long that some of the companies with the best natural gas assets may not survive the shakeout.
Balance sheets are at this moment more important than geology.
Prices are the beginning of the problem. Benchmark Henry Hub natural gas for September delivery closed at $3.163 per million BTUs (British thermal units) on August 17,
That’s a 44% decline in price since the beginning of 2009 and the lowest price since September 2002.
And traders fear that this isn’t the end of the worst. Read more