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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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Goldman Sachs Predicts $100 Oil As Renewable Transition Falters

  • Energy transition efforts, including decreased investment in hydrocarbon production, have contributed to rising oil prices and increased reliance on fossil fuels in backup scenarios.
  • Offshore wind projects are being canceled, EV sales in the U.S. are slowing down, and the solar industry faces competition from cheap Chinese panels, highlighting challenges in the renewable sector.
  • Despite clear setbacks, governments remain committed to their energy transition goals, potentially leading to even higher energy costs in both Europe and the U.S.
Oil Barrels

This week, Goldman Sachs raised its oil price target to $100 again. The bank cited lower OPEC output combined with higher demand, which taken together, "more than offset significantly higher U.S. supply."

The average gas price in the U.S. on September 20 was $3.875, slightly lower than a day earlier but $0.20 higher than a year ago.

Even with higher gas prices, EV purchases have slowed down instead of rising. 

In Europe, the deindustrialization of Germany is no longer news, the car industry is bracing for a Chinese EV rush, and Brussels is trying to build an energy transition supply chain from scratch.

Meanwhile, offshore wind developers are canceling projects in both Europe and the U.S., solar developers in the EU are complaining about cheap Chinese panels.

Also meanwhile, oil and gas companies keep reporting meaty profits and investors are rediscovering their love of hydrocarbons.

The energy transition is backfiring.

At the recent World Petroleum Congress in Calgary, oil executives and government officials both warned against the continued push to discourage investment in new hydrocarbon production.

"There seems to be wishful thinking that we're going to flip a switch from where we're at today to where it will be tomorrow," Exxon's chief executive said during the event.

"No matter where demand gets to, if we don't maintain some level of investment industry, you end up running shorter supply which leads to higher prices," Darren Woods also said.

This is exactly what we are currently witnessing in Europe and the United States. Because of the transition push, oil producers are being extra cautious with production growth. Also, they are prioritizing shareholder returns to keep shareholders on, so it pays for them to be cautious.

In Europe, the supermajors are being squeezed by windfall profit taxes, activist pressure, and increasingly restrictive legislation, so they are turning elsewhere. Shell is tapping billions of potential barrels in Namibia, and Total is considering a $9-billion commitment to oil exploration in Suriname.

Meanwhile, drivers across Europe are struggling with higher fuel costs and higher electricity bills as the EU becomes increasingly dependent on intermittent wind and solar that need backup from hydrocarbon-fueled power plants. These plants are taxed heavily for their carbon emissions, which has pushed the cost of their output—and electricity bills—higher.

All of this is only going to get worse before it gets better. Because despite a growing number of signs that the transition is not going according to plan, those in the driver's seat are doubling down on every single commitment.

The offshore wind energy industry is essentially on its deathbed, yet there has been no change of attitude from governments. The most likely thing they would do about its problems will probably be even more subsidies instead of a reconsideration of the role offshore wind would play in the transition.

In EVs, dealers are struggling with rising inventories in the U.S., and Ford said recently it was going to book a $4.5 billion loss on its EV business. In Europe, sales are up strongly, but carmakers are fretting about Chinese EVs, which are just as good as theirs but cheaper.

Solar energy is doing great in the U.S., set for record growth of 32 GW this year, "helped by investment incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act," Reuters reported recently. It appears nobody really cares what happens when the sun goes down over all those gigawatts. Battery storage is far behind solar in terms of capacity.

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Solar is doing great in the EU, too, also thanks to heavy subsidies, only there is a shortage of qualified installers, and local panel producers are grumbling against Chinese imports that are, according to the industry, killing them.

So the EU recently essentially declared a selective trade war on China through the mouth of EC president Ursula von der Leyen. China warned there would be consequences—at a time when the country has become a major exporter of fuels to Europe thanks to the Russian fuel embargo.

The price of energy is going to continue higher in both Europe and the U.S. All because of an ill-conceived transition away from hydrocarbons. 

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Richard Rosati on September 22 2023 said:
    Good article Irina! Goldman should prognosticate when the US dollar currency crisis begins. History demonstrates no one has ever been able to successfully predict the future price of oil, so why not foretell the dollar's 'inevitable' demise? I think that prophecy would be much more stimulating, and frankly, more entertaining.
  • Mamdouh Salameh on September 23 2023 said:
    Brent crude oil price is going to break through the $100 a barrel soon buoyed by solid fundamentals in the global oil market, robust oil demand, record Chinese crude imports, and a tightening market
    .
    A supporting bullish factor is that OPEC+ can’t raise production significantly enough and soon enough while non-OPEC+ producers like the United States, Brazil, Norway and Canada could hardly produce enough to offset possible shortages during the first half of 2024.

    Meanwhile, energy transition is faltering and renewables are incapable on their own of satisfying a significant share of global electricity needs or even drive a small economy.

    The world is now divided into halves. One half is the China-led Asia-Pacific region which is vibrant, growing fast and with very small inflation. The other half which includes the United States and the EU is stagnant, grappling with rising inflation and pathetic growth rates.

    It is the China-led half that is principally driving the global economy and accounting for the bulk of global oil and energy demand.

    A $100 oil could become a reality very soon. We can even see $150 oil if my suggestion that the Saudi voluntary production cut has nothing to do with the market and everything to do with Saudi production difficulties proves right..

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert
  • fredric longabard on September 23 2023 said:
    Politicians once again are proving they are the dimmest bulb in the pack.
  • David Jones on September 23 2023 said:
    Global EV sales year to date to July are up 41 percent this year and that's after a slow start. If that continues sales will hit 14 million this year. 2025 will certainly see more than 20 million EVs sold. I hate to think what you'd call non faltering growth.

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