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The Future of Oil and Gas

The Future of Oil and Gas

Depending on where you get your news you might think the fossil fuel industry is going the way of the dinosaur. This combined with other factors have made investments in oil and gas companies like Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) unpopular.

I’m long XOM and RDSB and I think these companies are undervalued and will produce solid returns over the next 10-20 years.

Why would I invest in these companies when oil and gas industry are dying?

The fact of the matter they aren’t dying. The demand for oil and gas is increasing. You might not guess that from the price of oil and natural gas.

Natural Gas prices have cratered over the last 10 years
Oil prices have also trended down from the 2007 high of 140

The reason for these price declines is because the supply of oil and gas is so robust. The reason I know that is because as prices are falling, consumption of oil and gas continues to increase. When supply increases faster than demand prices will fall.

It is important thing to understand the world continues to consume more and more energy. 2009 was an exception to that rule and 2020 will be as well but the long term trends over the past 10 years and going back as far as I have data is that energy consumption keeps going up. Oil and gas consumption keeps going up as well on an absolute basis.


But the lockdown induced economic slowdown of 2020 will not last forever. Eventually the world will learn to live with the virus and the demand for energy will continue the long term trend of growth.

So what technology will be used to meet that demand? The trend has been an increase in energy coming from solar and wind. But they remain niche players on the global scene. As of 2019 Solar accounts for 1.11% of global energy consumption and wind accounts for 2.18%. These small industries have indeed been growing dramatically. The amount of terawatt-hours (TWh) of energy provided by solar went up 1,937.5% and wind went up by 292%.

On an absolute basis since 2010 the largest source of growth has actually been natural gas. Gas also had the largest increase on a relative basis, growing from 22.49% of energy consumption to 24.23%. However, coal and oil still remain the largest sources of energy and while they are shrinking on a relative basis they are both still growing on an absolute basis.

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The biggest loser since 2010 has actually been nuclear power. Nuclear has declined on both an absolute and relative basis. Nuclear provided 5.14% of global energy as of 2010 and has dropped down to 4.27%. On an absolute basis it has dropped from providing 7,219 TWh of energy and as of 2019 is down to 6,923 TWh. But even though nuclear energy consumption is declining, nuclear still provides more energy than solar and wind combined.

I think these trends will continue over the next 10 years. Solar and wind will continue to grow on a relative and absolute basis. But I think the relative growth they pick up will largely be from coal and perhaps in small part from nuclear unless the attitude towards nuclear technology changes. I believe natural gas will continue to grow on a relative and absolute basis. I further believe oil will continue to increase on an absolute basis but may stay relatively flat to downward on a relative basis. Coal will continue to decline on a relative basis and might even start to decline on an absolute basis as well.

Wind and solar are definitely in more of a growth mode, as you can see from those huge numbers, than the oil industry. But gas is also in growth mode. I do like alternative energy companies like Next Era Energy (NEE). While NEE is in the wind and solar space they also provide power using natural gas and nuclear. I’m looking for a buying opportunity and looking for value in the alternative energy sector as well.

But that doesn’t change the fact that oil and gas stocks are trading at steep discounts and oil and gas consumption is still in an uptrend. As billion hypocrite Warren Buffet once said be “fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”

There is a lot of fear in the oil and gas industry so it might be time to be greedy.