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Posts Tagged ‘renewable fuels’

0 Aug 6 2010 @ 10:58am by Matt Smith in Biofuels, Capital Markets, Crude Oil, Economy, Global Energy, Natural Gas, Random

Burrito Bites

I bid you good day, and welcome to another underwhelming Nonfarm Friday. US unemployment data came in poor again, ending a data-rich week which continues to muddy the puddle that is the economic outlook. Crude has continued its adventures in the $80 range, with its fickle-folly flipping between equities, currencies or economic data, yet with little emphasis on its own fundamentals. US natural gas has been shoe-gazing all week, as heat and hurricanes are viewed (for now) as temporary bullish influences in a broader bearish trend. Moving on, let’s whet our appetites on this week’s burrito bites:   

–Amazing blow by blow graphic of the Gulf oil spill.  

1,500 environmental laws broken at Marcellus Shale since the start of 2008.  

Monkeys hate flying squirrels.  

–Globally, fossil fuels get more subsidies than renewable fuels.  

–Shale: the good news on energy.  

–Excellent piece on why ex Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan is worse at forecasting than a certain British weatherman

–Buy a condo for less than a car.  

–Biofuels didn’t cause grain price boom.  

–Toyota recall caused by cosmic rays?! (h/t LB)  

–Why can’t we be friends? Renewables and natural gas should work together.  

–Why A-Rod’s 600th home run may cause tax problems.  

–Paul Krugman answers ‘why is deflation bad?’.  

–Last week the laziest, this week the fattest states in America. 

–While 4 states get more than 10% of their electricity from wind power.  

I think it's Shark Week on The Discovery Channel...


–European smart grid to reach $25bln by 2020.  

–World’s largest lederhosen record broken.  

The Burrito Deluxe Award of the week goes to global manufacturing data. Although it is showing slowing expansion, it is showing expansion nonetheless – from China to Europe to the US.  

The Burnt Burrito Award of the week goes to US Nonfarm Payrolls for July for a double whammy of dodgy data. Not only was the 131,000 jobs lost mucho worse than the consensus of -65,000, but the previous month saw a downward revision from -125,000 to -221,000. Not great numbers for an economy which is supposed to be showing early-cycle economic expansion.  

Have a glorious weekend! 

p.s. I’m on CNBC Squawk Box again on Monday – bright and breezy in the US at 7.30 ET, also on in Europe at 12.30 GMT. 

1 Jul 30 2010 @ 10:54am by Matt Smith in Capital Markets, Crude Oil, Economy, Global Energy, Natural Gas

Burrito Bites

Yep, it's that hot. (h/t MT)

I bid you a happy Friday once again, as the weekend sees us teeter over the edge of July, and into the arms of August. The past week has brought us a shaken snow globe of economic data; mixed, stormy and unsettled. Yet all the while, corporate earnings season in the US has continued the trend of underpromising and overdelivering, ultimately improving market sentiment, and ergo, equity markets. Natty has been given a boost from warmer temperature outlooks, both near-term and for the rest of summer (hot enough to melt ice cream vans) while hurricane season is errant for now. Crude has continued to trade in a tight range betwixt $76-$80, as the choppy sea of economic sentiment keeps it bobbing along.  Anyhow, too much squibbling, not enough nibbling, let’s chow: 

–New BP CEO: We won’t be found grossly negligent. BP counsel: Yes we will.  

–More buns for your buck – the updated Big Mac Index shows the euro is overvalued. 

–Cap and Trade is dead. Long live Cap and Trade!  

–Is it dangerous to drive and listen to sports radio

Kinks in the ethanol message-machine? 

–Everything you need to know about global warming in 5 minutes (on p.7). 

–America’s laziest states

–36ft tall meerkat made out of straw. 

–US refineries still need to trim capacity.

–Why putting a glass of water on your dash helps fuel consumption. 

–Art Berman from The Oil Drum talks about Shale Gas.

–Modern cargo ships travel slower than 19th Century Clippers. 

Monkey Economics

–Are Jedi knights libertarian or socialist? 

The Burrito Deluxe Award of the week goes to Chicago PMI data that was released this morning. With PMI manufacturing data released across the globe on Monday (= August!) – and possibly showing ‘expansion, but slowing expansion’ the pre-emptive data from the Chicago PMI has boosted markets into the weekend, and raises hopes for some decent prints on Monday – fingers crossed. (No contraction from China’s manufacturing sector, please). 

EIA Crude Inventories this week: 7.3 mb build

The Burnt Burrito Award of the week goes to crude oil stockpiles which posted a hueymongous build in weekly inventories this week, growing by 7.3 million barrels versus the consensus of a draw, as imports cranked up last week. 

The Burrito Quote of the Week: “Every depression upgraded to a storm will bring in precautionary short-covering and precautionary evacuations – at least from BP’s rigs. After everything that has happened this summer, that company only needs to hear wind chimes in the Azores and things get buttoned down,” – research company Cameron Hanover. 

The Burrito Headline of the Week: Strongest Beer in the World. Served in a Dead Squirrel

Have a tremendous weekend!

0 Jul 23 2010 @ 10:04am by Matt Smith in Capital Markets, Crude Oil, Economy, Global Energy, Natural Gas, UK natural gas

Burrito Bites

ah...that's where the bears are.

Happy Friday! Commodities are running out of steam today, after crude has spent the week uplifted by earnings, while natty has been buoyed by Bonnie. Let’s hit the ground running, and bag ourselves some bites:

–China passes US as world’s biggest energy consumer…..which is quickly denied by China officials as incorrect.

–BP doctored photos to make control room seem busier.

–Stop the press – Jessica Simpson announces ‘I am 30 and found a wrinkle’. (h/t BS)

–Beyond the Gulf oil spill….five ongoing ecological disasters.

–China’s carbon emissions need to peak by 2020 for the world to meet global reduction goals.

Unconventional gas, unconventional wisdom.

Rent-a-friend. (I randomly came across this, I wasn’t searching for it or anything…).

Germany targets 100% renewables for electricity by 2050.

–Could shale deposits bring mid-Atlantic states $2 trillion?

–In keeping with the previous post on the burrito, man changes name to Buzz Lightyear

–The fall in the Baltic Dry Index explained.

–Gulf oil spill doomsday theories.

– in everything: seat-savers.

We tip our caps to a certain other cap this week, as it finally, finally (hopefully, hopefully) has halted the worst oil spill in US history. The Burrito Deluxe Award goes to you; BP can put it on the mantlepiece next to all the Burnt Burrito Awards received in the past few months.  

This week’s Burnt Burrito Award goes to this gentleman with a fat finger trade that caused a jump in the GBP/USD FX exchange rate.

Have a grand weekend!

p.s. If you’re near a tv early Monday Morning, I’ll be giving some commentary on Commodityworld(tm) on CNBC’s Squawk Box at 7.30am.

0 Jun 18 2010 @ 9:57am by Matt Smith in Biofuels, Capital Markets, Crude Oil, Economy, energy consulting, Global Energy, Natural Gas, Random, risk management, Risk Strategy, Technology, UK natural gas

An Energy Perspective

This post isn’t a post – it’s a link to a guest post out on the Houston Chronicle. The guest post is pilfered, cribbed and cropped from a speech I did in London this week for the shindig at Shakespeare’s Globe to launch our UK office. It basically outlines who is going to win the World Cup, through comparing and contrasting various aspects of the energy complex to eight teams. So please click on the below image to be directed away from this imposter, to the real post:

No burrito bites this week – apologies – I will double down on the delicacies next week. Have a splendid weekend!

3 Feb 17 2010 @ 10:45am by Matt Smith in Biofuels, Global Energy, Technology

Topic #153 that I find fascinating but need to know more about: Algae

There is something about algae that I find absolutely fascinating. I don’t know if it’s because I find it so incredulous, but producing biofuel from squeezing seaweed really hard (presumably that’s how they do it) is mind-boggling to me. Hence its charm.   

algaeAlgae, or Oilgae as those in-the-know like to call it (ie – not me), is taking over the mantle as the potential savior of biofuels, as the energy world scrambles to find a way to meet the renewable fuels standard, a law requiring the US (stipulated by,erm, the US) to produce 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022. 

The US government, having passed the law five years ago, are obviously getting a little tetchy about achieving the goals they have outlined. The data aren’t fully in yet, but preliminary results indicate that the US has fallen short of their mandated level for 2009 of 11.1 billion gallons, and are keen to find a solution to such a behemoth of a problem. Hence, their interest in algae has been piqued, with $80 million in stimulus money recently paid out to research algae-based biofuels.

To add (bio)fuel to the fire, the cause is also not without the support of ‘big oil’. Exxon Mobil’s first ever venture into the green arena has been to team up with algae research company, Synthetic Genomics, in an initial $300 million joint venture. Admittedly, this is spare change (almost a gesture?) when compared to Exxon’s annual capital and exploration spend of approximately $30bln (= more than the US government’s renewable energy budget) . However, as an affirmation of algae’s potential, there doesn’t come any higher endorsement. 

...not to be confused with the DARPA Initiative...

...not to be confused with the DARPA Initiative...

Last April the Pentagon tasked DARPA, who helped to develop some of the most revolutionary technology used today (from the internet to a propane-powered GPS system), to develop algae as a biofuel on a large enough scale to supply the entire US military. All becomes clear when it’s realized the US military is the largest single consumer of energy in the world (60 – 75 million barrels of oil a year); oil dependence on the countries you could potentially be at conflict with is not ideal.
As for the recent ripples of excitement, these were caused by an article in the newspaper, The Guardian, last weekend. It claims that DARPA’s research shows they are already producing biofuel from algae ponds at a cost of $2/gallon, and are months away from developing the technology to produce biofuel for $1/gallon – similar to gasoline costs. And we are not talking niche quantities here; a 50 million barrel-per-year refining operation could be up to speed within the next two years. 

This revelation has taken the biofuel industry by surprise – even algae producers. This has also followed hot on the heels of a backlash against algae in a study released last month, which stated algae required much more water and energy to produce than originally projected. This claim was vehemently refuted by market players.

36 beeellion gallons

36 beellion gallons

So in a bizarre twist, in a world where technological advancement is making madcap biofuel visions a reality, algae looks well positioned to lead, or at least be a part in this effort. In similarly interesting news this week, British Airways announced they will be producing their own biofuel from London garbage. Who would have believed even five years ago that jet fuel would be being produced from seaweed and trash? Modern life is indeed rubbish.

As with its predecessors, algae has been placed on a pedestal, which is set to wobble and topple under the weight of its own expectations. Other fuels have received similar treatment – jatropha (=topic #137 I found fascinating but needed to know more about) and corn-based ethanol, to name but two. If only expectations could be tempered somewhat, algae could be perceived for what it is – another paving stone on the path to oil independence, but not the path itself.