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Confidence And Cash Return To Oil

Oil Rigs

Friday, October 14 2016

In the latest edition of the Numbers Report, we’ll take a look at some of the most interesting figures put out this week in the energy sector. Each week we’ll dig into some data and provide a bit of explanation on what drives the numbers.

Let’s take a look.

1. Solar threatens utilities

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- Solar installations are rising quickly, on the back of falling costs and federal incentives that have been extended through the end of the decade.
- Texas is expected to see 4 GW of solar installed by 2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
- Up until now solar has been a marginal player, but the sharp rise in expected installations will cut into peak electricity prices, generating the most power during the middle of the day when electricity prices are at their highest.
- Solar could lower power prices by $2.58 per megawatt-hour during peak demand hours by 2020, BNEF says.
- This “peak shaving” presents an enormous threat to the profits of power generators in Texas. The deregulated market leaves generators with very little protection, so solar could put plants out of business.

2. Energy CO2 emissions at 25-year low

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- U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector hit a 25-year low in the first six months of 2016, according new data from the EIA.
- CO2 emissions dropped to 2,530 million metric tons, the lowest level since 1991. The reasons for the decline are multiple.
- Mild weather led to soft demand – the U.S. had the fewest “heating degree days” since at least 1949 when record-keeping began. Total primary energy consumption was down 2 percent compared to the first six months of 2015.
- Moreover, the energy mix is changing. Coal consumption fell 18 percent in Jan-June 2016 compared to 2015. Meanwhile, electricity from renewable energy jumped 9 percent.

3. Yields on energy-related junk bonds come down from highs

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- Investors are no longer scared of energy-related junk bonds, with yields coming down on riskier energy debt, returning to levels not seen since before the oil price collapse two years ago.
- Average yields on the Bank of America Merrill Lynch energy bond index have declined from a high of 21 percent in February (when oil prices dropped below $30 per barrel) down to 7.3 percent as of mid-October.




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