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Energy…from Cake!

Listening to my iPod on shuffle this weekend, I rediscovered my appetite for the band, Cake. Upon further delving into their back catalogue I discovered a theme. So through their playlist here is how it is possible to get energy…from Cake.    

The Distance

Sooo, there is a whole bunch of Cake songs which relate to driving (Stickshifts and Safetybelts, Long Line of Cars, Race Car Ya-Yas, Wheels, to name but a few), but I have decided to focus on one of their most famous, ‘The Distance’, as it lends itself to the consideration of higher fuel standards.

In the latter half of last year, the current administration announced a target of 54.5 miles per gallon from cars and light duty truck models by 2025. Ironically, while this bullish target will help to lower emissions, we may well see a bigger impact by 2025 from people simply driving less (…on the 4,067,077 miles of roads…). As the chart below illustrates, ‘the distance’ driven in the US is apparently in structural decline:

Vehicle Miles Driven

Carbon Monoxide

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I used to catch the 06.37 train to London Bridge every day from Brighton, and getting off that train each morning reminded me of this song. But what is carbon monoxide? It is a by-product of combustion, and is created by the incomplete burning of various fuels. It is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas which is produced by common household appliances such as gas or oil furnaces, gas ranges, or gas water heaters. But it is also commonly produced by internal combustion engines…aka, cars.

Mexico

I’ve been meaning to write about Mexico for ages, because it is a fascinating subject from both an energetic and economic perspective. Focusing on the energetic, we are seeing US exports to Mexico surging on the natural gas front. According to the EIA, exports grew 24% last year as natural gas consumption in Mexico ramps up at a faster rate than production, driven by the industrial sector. Total consumption rose a whopping 4% last year. Given the number of pipeline expansion projects which are underway, the trend of rising exports from the US looks set to continue:

US Natural Gas Exports to Mexico

As for oil, Mexico is in the top ten of largest oil producers in the world, but is seeing production declining due to a lack of investment in its ailing and aging oil fields by PEMEX, the state-run oil company. However, the fear of becoming a net importer by 2018 has the government preparing reforms to promote foreign investment.

Mexico is one of the largest exporters of oil to the US (not surprising I suppose given both its proximity and resources), and the two countries may consider swapping oil going forward according to the EIA. This is because the US is seeing increased production of  higher quality light, sweet crude from shale plays, while Gulf coast refiners are geared to refine heavy crude. The opposite situation exists for Mexico.

Mexico's Oil Production and Consumption

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I Will Survive

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention Cake’s most famous song (albeit a cover). And representing this song in energyland™ is liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports. Although the topic of LNG exports is all the rage at the moment, less than half a decade ago when shale was just a glint in our eyes and prices were at $13/MMbtu, LNG imports were hailed as the antidote to a tight domestic natural gas market.

Although this situation has been flipped on its head by low prices and oversupply, LNG imports are down…but not out.  And although volumes are down to a meager 0.15 Bcf/d, imports will survive as long-term contracts are honored, and the US is seen as the home of last resort for unwanted cargoes.

Nat Gas Five Year Range

Thanks as always, for reading…I hope you have enjoyed this random collection, and that it has whetted your appetite for Cake!

By. Matt Smith




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