Oil and Gas Predictions for 2020
Hey, folks, let’s learn something new about the oil and gas industry. First thing is my apologies. We were very busy in 2019. Plus I went through a bunch of personal stuff, so I did not put out much content at all. So my apologies to you, our audience out there. 2020 we’re gonna hit it with a bang. You’re gonna see so much great content coming up including this. This is the new modalpoint Global Studio and we’re gonna give you a behind the scenes look in about a month now in how we built this, the tools, the techniques, the cameras, the lightings used, all that stuff.
But this is the Oil and Gas predictions for 2020.So, let’s just jump right into it.
Number 1 Oil and Gas Predictions for 2020 Go Big or Go Home
If you look at what’s happening in the shale plays, you see a lot of people out there saying that shale is just a bubble. It’s going to burst. There’s a whole bunch of capital inefficiencies by the operators and basically shale is dying or on its way out the door. We don’t believe that, whatsoever. We think something’s going on in the maturity level of the shale plays. So, if you look at what’s happened in the last say 5 years, you see a lot of independent operators go into production, use those production numbers to borrow money, to borrow CAPEX to drill more wells, do more production. That’s not a long term business model.
That’s a short term business model that quite frankly has failed. We all can agree upon that. What we see happening is something bigger and better really for the entire industry. We’re seeing the major independents and the majors and the super majors come in. And a couple of things that are different about them in the shale plays, we’ll use Chevron as an example. Chevron owns the mineral rights in the Permian, right, in the shale plays. Almost all the independent operators lease them. Now, that’s a big difference that nobody ever thinks about. When you lease those mineral rights, in those contracts is certain production goals because the owner of mineral rights wants to make money, wants to get paid. And they get paid on your production. So, if you’re an independent operator and you’re leasing mineral rights, you are forced contractually to go in production.
Chevron doesn’t have to worry about that. Chevron can produce or not produce whether they want to or not depending on what the market dictates because they own the mineral rights. We think that’s the trend of the future and we’re watching the other super majors buy mineral rights instead of lease them, which verifies what we think. The other thing is the majors don’t have to borrow money. They don’t have to borrow CAPEX. They have their own funding internally. So, you take those two simple things together, the “I don’t need more money ‘cause I have enough cash in my bank to do it myself” and the fact that I own the mineral rights, those 2 things together give the major operators anywhere from $0.50 to $3 a barrel more profit than the independent operators. We think that is a sustainable business model. The mergers and acquisitions that are happening now proves that we think that’s where the future is going.
So, it’s really good for everybody. It will be some turmoil. We’re gonna have some of the service companies suffer a little bit as the prosperity from the independent operators gets transferred to the majors and the super majors. But once it gets settled and leveled out, we’ll still be in this low crude price environment for almost forever. We’ll go to that a little bit later. But now, you have the majors who are much more efficient at running capital, much more efficient running multiple large projects. And that’s gonna level everything out in the shale plays we think. So, go big or go home is #1 in our Oil and Gas predictions for 2020.
Number 2: Petrochemicals Rule
If you look at 1/3 of the growth in hydrocarbon consumptions, not what the world is consuming now, but if you look towards the future, 1/3 of that future growth is pure petrochemicals. Petrochemicals makes modern life possible. Everything from the lipstick that your wife or girlfriend wears, to the soccer balls you play with on afternoons with your kids, to the tires on your car, to the fuel of Space X, to the nylon that goes into the military protective vest, all that’s petrochemicals.
And the world wants more and more of that. And the world needs more and more of that. And so, as an industry, we’re providing more of the raw feedstock which is crude oil and natural gas. Think of things like an ethylene cracker. An ethylene cracker in simple forms coverts to natural gas to plastics. There’s a proliferation globally. In here in the U.S., we have dominated petrochemicals. So, #2, petrochemicals rule, which is really cool.
Number 3: Hello Agility
You heard me right. Agility. So, if you think of the oil and gas industry from its conception as an industry until now, it’s always been in a resource constrained environment. Resources were hard to find. It was hard to find reservoirs. It was hard to find oil and natural gas. It was work. It was money. And so, the old style of running that type of business lends itself very well to almost like a military operation. Command and control. In that resource constrained world, command and control works extremely well. Not picking on you, Exxon. I love you to death, but you’re a perfect example of that command and control business model. Well, that’s changed. Hydrocarbons are everywhere. This geology we have, yes, we keep calling ‘em shale geology, it’s not just here in the U.S. It’s all around the world. And as the world matures as far as infrastructure, roads and pipelines, the rest of the world will be able to tap into their shale plays and even the best operator in the shale plays today in 2020 can only get maybe 15% of the hydrocarbons out the ground. At least 85% is still there. So, hydrocarbons are there forever, but the business has changed.
We’re no longer a resource constrained world. So, the old command and control business model, which served our industry so well for so long, doesn’t work. Now, it’s about being nimble. Who could be first to market? Who could be the first to figure out a different way to finance a project? Who will be the first group to figure out different talent sources to tap into? So, agility is what’s gonna make the differences between oil and gas companies that make it in the future and once it disappear. This is the 3rd part of our Oil and Gas predictions for 2020.
Number 4 Hydrocarbon Pricing
We’ve been doing these yearly predictions for I think 6 years now. And every year, people want me to give a number of what I think natural gas is going to be and I never do it. Let’s do it. What the hell, right? So, we think in 2020 Brent is gonna average $64 a barrel and we think natural gas is gonna average $2.55 per million BTU. Now, my predictions on the price of crude is a little bit higher than the other analysts. My predictions on natural gas is a little bit lower. Let’s see what happens with our Oil and Gas predictions for 2020.
Number 5 Oil and Gas predictions for 2020 Talent
As an industry, we are facing the talent shortage of epic proportions for the first time ever people around the world don’t wanna come work in our industry. Up until just recently, if you were a young man or woman in Angola, Africa, your whole village would be super happy if you get a job in the oil and gas industry because it was prosperity, medical care, money, and food. And everybody was super stoked about that. Folks, we’ve let it get to the point now where these young men and women in Africa, or China, or India don’t wanna come work in our industry because they think we’re destroying the planet. As an industry whether it’s upstream, midstream, downstream, or service. We’re an industry of engineers and project management. What happens when we can’t hire engineers and project managers?
This is real. This is serious. This is big. Now, oil and gas global network is working on something to help address this, but I need all of us to address this. We can talk about this a little bit later in the predictions, but talent is a major constraint in our industry now. It’s only gonna get worse in the future. And you look at the type of talent we need. We now need data scientists. We now need data architects. We now need drone pilots. Those are the exact ones that don’t wanna come work here, but the tech industry is going to snag them. And so, talent’s a major constraint. And whether you’re a small oil and gas company or a mega oil and gas company, if you’re able to figure out how to recruit or retain talent compared to your competitors, you could pull way ahead. And if you’re those companies that don’t wanna change the way that you deal with your talent, you’re gonna get left behind. Sorry.
Number 6 Green is Picking Up Steam
So, when all this first started, it was amazing to watch the oil and gas companies dip their toe into the renewable world, right, the renewable market. It was really a PR stunt. Now, as an industry, we’ve looked at that and see if we make money from clean energy, can we make money from renewables? And there’s also a bit of a disparity in between what happens here in Europe, in the U.S. and the rest of the world. We’re actually spoiled by oil and gas here and in Europe. I mean, I live in a 3,000 square foot house. I probably burn 15 kilowatts of electricity a day. The only reason I can do that is because it’s dirt cheap and it’s dirt cheap because oil and gas. We have the ability to make electricity just almost free.
The rest of the world doesn’t live like that. So, the rest world is coming out of an agrarian lifestyle and they don’t need 15 kilowatts. They need 1 or 2 watts. Right? They need to run a small refrigerator, run a couple of light bulbs, and recharge their iPad. They don’t need to run central heat or air like I do, and my espresso machines, and my 3 refrigerators. They don’t need that. So in renewable energy, solar is a great fit for that. You don’t have to worry about infrastructure. You don’t have to worry about pipelines. So, the other thing is if you look at CO2 emissions, the #1 way globally to lower CO2 emissions is for the world to switch from coal to natural gas. Guess who you get natural gas from, folks? The oil and gas industry. So, going green is no longer a PR stunt. It’s now a revenue stream that we’re all trying to figure out. The majors, the super majors especially have put a lot of money and research, which is great, into renewables and we love that. We actually have an oil and gas renewable podcast coming out this year.
Number 7 Oil and Gas predictions for 2020 Regional Hydrocarbons
I know this is weird. Regional hydrocarbons. Have you ever wondered why, you know, WTI right now is going for $57 a barrel here in Houston, same exact price in Tokyo, Japan, same exact price in Rio de Janeiro? Do you ever wonder why it could be the exact same price? It’s because up until just recently, you can move those hydrocarbons, the crude natural gas for almost nothing. We have a global network of supertankers and pipelines where it costs almost nothing to move it. So, if you wanna pay the list price today here, I can move it halfway across the world for nothing and sell it for that price over there. Interesting bit of trivia: At any one time in the oceans, there’s more weight in crude oil being moved around that the weight of all the fish combined. That’s how big this is.
Well, for the first time in my lifetime, especially supertanker rates are going up. So, it used to cost $2 million to move a supertanker from here to Asia Pacific. It’s now up to $10 million. Well, that’s now affecting that ability to move stuff for almost free. Now, it’s not almost free. So here in the U.S., we love heavy complex crudes and we import those crudes from Canada, Venezuela, Middle East and then the rest of the world loves light sweet crudes. And so, we export our crudes that we develop here to the rest of the world because we can do it for almost nothing. Well, what happens when that price of transport, those logistic prices go up especially globally? Right? Not pipelines, but supertankers, which is what’s happening now. Now, all of a sudden we could be more worried about regional hydrocarbons.
Is the U.S. going to look at it using its own production, its own light sweet crudes, and switch it from using those heavy crudes in the rest of the world to our own light sweet crudes because the cost of transport is going up? It’s the same thing that happened in Europe. So, regional hydrocarbons for the first time is gonna be a major driver in 2020. We expect that trend to continue and actually get bigger and bigger. so regional hydrocarbons is in our Oil and Gas predictions for 2020
Number 8 Conflict in the Middle East
Then, and I really hope I’m wrong about this one. We think there’s gonna be a conflict in the Middle East. And when it happens or if it happens, you’re gonna see a jump in prices, right, which a lot of people are hoping to happen, but that’s going to be a temporary jump in prices. And thing is it’s gonna be different this time with the conflict in the Middle East. Its OPEC is gonna implode a little bit. They’re not gonna be able to produce as much and that’s gonna open up market share. For the first time, us and Russia will go after that OPEC market share and try to capture that. And when the war in the Middle East gets settled, they won’t be able to come back and take back that market share back. OPEC knows this. OPEC is doing everything it can to keep a conflict from breaking out, but there’s the perfect storm of what’s going on with Saudi Aramco IPO. You get Saudi Arabia paying the overhead for having U.S. troops over there to protect everything. You have everything that’s going on in Iran, you know. And you had our embassy that was just attacked.
So, this is the perfect storm and I am firmly convinced we’re gonna have a conflict in the Middle East. I don’t want it to happen. I don’t want anybody to get hurt. I don’t want American boots on foreign soil, but we think it’s going to happen in 2020. And you’ll see that spike in hydrocarbon prices and you’ll see that the global shuffle for market share. It’s gonna be an interesting time. If I am right, if we are right about the conflict, let’s hope that it ends quickly so it doesn’t get out of control.
Number 9 Politics Gets Personal
And then speaking of ending quickly and out of control, for the first time in the oil and gas industry and for me personally, politics has to get personal. Folks, we’re fighting a battle against organizations that don’t like us for various reasons. Either their after financial gain or they’re misinformed, but that battle is being fought right now. And if you’re around during the `70s, the same thing happened with Green Peace and the nuclear energy industry. Nuclear energy should be here. It’s the safest way to generate electricity that we know of, but it’s gone because of Green Peace.
Green Peace used public perception and marketing to convince the world that nuclear was bad. They’re wrong and they’ve eliminated something that was vital to mankind. The same thing is going on with oil and gas. Now, in the case of oil and gas, no organization will ever make it go away completely because it’s used for everything, but what will happen is it’s gonna increase our cost of doing business to the point that we may not be competitive with other energy sources. So, for the first time ever, I’ve always said I want to stay out of politics and the public eye, I want my company to stay out of politics and the public eye, that needs to change. You, yourself, you and your company, I don’t care if you work for super major, needs to get involved in politics.
But listen to me, you don’t need to get involved in politics by giving money to trade organizations. The big Super Bowl ads that the API runs and all the other full-page magazine ads, the Wall Street Journals, that does nothing with this new younger workforce. It needs to be real. It needs to have a big social media component. You look at the people that don’t like us. They’ve used social media very well to shut down pipelines, to shut down access to drilling, to restrict water usage. We need to do the same thing, but we need to do it in a way we’re talking about the facts, the good things of our industry.
A perfect example, I keep telling about ExxonMobil. Do you Exxon Mobil spends more money fighting malaria than anybody else in the world? Nobody knows that. Do you know that their new corporate headquarters outside of Spring, when they removed a lot of the trees for construction, they spent a ton of money to put those trees in cold storage and paid tree experts to keep those trees alive for years. And when they finished their construction, they went back and replanted those trees. Nobody knows that story. That’s the type of stuff we need to tell, but we need to tell it to our politicians and our politicians need to understand the truth about our industry, how vital it is to mankind, how many jobs we support. And if they don’t, we need to vote and get them out of office. So, for the first time ever, modalpoint, Mark LaCour, and the Oil and Gas Global Network are getting involved in politics and the public eye and you need too as well. We’re in a battle and that battle can only be won if we start influencing our politicians in a way that’s transparent and honest and it’s based upon the fact. So, politics gets personal.
Number 10 New Ways of Working
Then finally for our Oil and Gas predictions for 2020, for the first time new ways of working in oil and gas industry. Part of it is being driven by this new workforce that’s coming in. Part of it is also being driven by technology. You know, when I got started in business in the late `80s, you went to the office because that’s where the data was you needed to do your job. There was no internet. There really was no email. We had a terminal in a mainframe computer and we had internal email, but not external. And I got maybe 2 emails a week. All that’s gone now. I no longer need to go to the office to access the file cabinets with the information I need. Right? I can do it all on my phone. Same way with you. And for the first time ever, not only does the oil and gas industry recognize that and you’re seeing work from home, you’re seeing global positions where people are halfway around the world doing it, but you’re also seeing stuff like measurement while drilling being done 100% remotely. You’re seeing management of wells being done 100% remotely.
We got involved in this group called Top Coder and we got involved with them through Anadarko. And what Top Coder is is some of the best technology minds and workforce in the world and a community. It’s a gig economy type thing. Sort of like Uber. But what’s so cool about it is that you can offer them a job if you need something done, which is what Anadarko did. And you get not only the top minds of the planet, but they work together. It’s collaborative. So, it ends up being cheaper and quicker for the customer, on this case Anadarko. And then the people that work for Top Coder, they were writing the code. They’re coming up with the technology. They’re making 2 or 3 times as much as they would work for another company and they can pick and choose their job. They can pick jobs they wanna do and they don’t have to pick jobs they don’t wanna do. So, you’re looking at it that way. Entirely new ways of working. It’s changing the actual culture of oil and gas. I suspect in my lifetime that subsea engineers will spend part of the time working on a bunch of trees for, you know, Shell and then the other half they’re working on a bunch of trees for Chevron and working on a bunch of trees for Petrobras. Right? We don’t do that now, but it’s coming. That’s gonna drop efficiencies and employee satisfaction in a way that we’ve never done before. So, new ways of working is #10 of our predictions in oil and gas for 2020.