Volatility in investing in oil and gas is nothing new, but the COVID-19 pandemic-driven demand destruction is forcing oil and gas companies to reassess the value of their biggest assets, proven reserves. Oil and gas companies have historically held faith in their reserves even during energy downturns, but this time feels different, and oil executives are starting to prepare themselves for large amounts of their oil and gas reserves to become totally worthless.
COVID-19 has hammered global energy markets, but renewable energy is taking the opportunity to capture a new record share of electricity generation. Energy producers everywhere have been hit hard by the enormous drop in electricity demand, but renewable energy has managed the declines the best, in part due to their lack of variable costs. Coal and natural gas tend to be pushed out of the market first due to operating costs, opening the door for renewables and potentially leading to the expediting of a transition from fossil fuels to renewables.
Last December I wrote about the proposed Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), which would require wholesalers of gasoline and diesel in participating states to buy carbon credits to sell their fuel. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the TCI jurisdictions have adjusted their timeline for developing the program, and a final Memorandum of Understanding is now expected in the fall of 2020. TCI notes that work on the program details will continue, as will engagement with stakeholders.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly tough on the oil industry, and it appears as though the impacts will be felt well beyond the immediate future. According to BloombergNEF, peak fuel demand will come sooner than previously predicted, with gasoline demand peaking in 2030 and on road diesel demand peaking shortly after in 2033. While there are other factors in play, COVID-19 certainly appears to be expediting the process.