Long Way to Run: Warren Buffet Rejects All-Renewable Future With $10 Billion Bet on Oil & Gas

Australian voters just shredded the notion that the proletariat is wedded to heavily subsidised and chaotically intermittent wind and solar.

Labor’s Bill Shorten sought to ram a 50% Renewable Energy Target down voter’s throats; a concept which the vast majority of them duly rejected.

Sure, there were plenty of other issues that sank the Green/Labor Alliance. However, it should be remembered that 2019 was billed as the ‘Climate Change Election’, with wind and solar pitched up as the only panacea to what has now become a ‘climate emergency’.

Pundits professed, with great certitude, the notion that the Australian public just can’t get enough intermittent, unreliable and unaffordable electricity. Well, that didn’t quite pan out. Bill Shorten slunk off the political stage, a wounded and embittered hero of renewable energy zealots and rent seekers, alike.

Another part of the meme was that the markets had already turned their back on fossil fuels, particularly that dirty, evil black stuff that actually powers Australia. When the sun sets and/or calm weather sets in, 85% of the electricity buzzing around Australia’s Eastern Grid comes from reliable coal-fired power plants.

Labor’s “coal is dead” mantra quickly turned into a “coal just killed Labor” reality, as Australia’s biggest coal-mining state, Queensland swung heavily towards the Liberal National Party.

One result of which is that the Queensland State Labor government is fast tracking the much-maligned Adani coal mine. Queensland State Labor deliberately delayed the approval of the mine in the hope of holding onto inner-city green votes, which ultimately cost Federal Labor the election. Oops!

Now, back to the markets.

Warren Buffett is renowned as the ‘Sage of Omaha’, for his ability out-read and outplay the markets.

Some time back Buffett bought into Big Wind, but noted (sagely) that: “We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” Buffett might have continued, that it’s the only reason anyone invests in them.

If coal, oil and gas really were on the way out, as we’re repeatedly told, then, the likes of Warren Buffett wouldn’t be throwing billions of dollars in their direction. And, indeed, that’s exactly what Buffett is doing right now.

Buffett’s bet on oil and gas will look sage on cloudy days
The Wall Street Journal
Mark P. Mills
20 May 2019

What’s Warren Buffett doing with a $US10 billion ($14.5bn) bet on the future of oil and gas, helping old-school Occidental Petroleum buy Anadarko, a US shale leader? For pundits promoting the all-green future, this looks like betting on horse farms circa 1919.

Meanwhile, broad market sentiment is decidedly bearish on hydrocarbons. The oil and gas share of the S&P 500 is at a 40-year low, and the first quarter of 2019 saw the Nasdaq Clean Edge Green Energy Index and “clean tech” exchange-traded funds outperform the S&P.

A week doesn’t pass without a mayor, governor or policymaker joining the headlong rush to pledge or demand a green energy future. Some 100 US cities have made such promises. Hydrocarbons may be the source of 80 per cent of America’s and the world’s energy, but to say they are currently out of favour is a dramatic understatement.

Yet it’s both reasonable and, for contrarian investors, potentially lucrative to ask: what happens if renewables fail to deliver?

The prevailing wisdom has wind and solar, paired with batteries, adding 250 per cent more energy to the world over the next two decades than American shale has added over the past 15 years. Is that realistic? The shale revolution has been the single biggest addition to the world energy supply in the past century. And even bullish green scenarios still see global demand for oil and gas rising, if more slowly.

If the favoured alternatives fall short of delivering what growing economies need, will markets tolerate energy starvation? Not likely. Nations everywhere will turn to hydrocarbons. And just how big could the call on oil and natural gas — and coal, for that matter — become if, say, only half as much green-tech energy gets produced as is now forecast? Keep in mind that a 50 per cent “haircut” would still mean unprecedented growth in green tech.

If the three hydrocarbons were each to supply one-third of such a posited green shortfall, global petroleum output would have to increase by an amount equal to doubling the production of the Permian shale field (Anadarko’s home). And the world supply of liquid natural gas would need to increase by an amount equal to twice Qatar’s current exports, plus coal would have to almost double what the top global exporter, Australia, now ships.

Green forecasters are likely out over their skis. All the predictions assume that emerging economies — the least wealthy nations — will account for nearly three-fourths of total new spending on renewables. That won’t happen unless the promised radical cost reductions occur.

For a bellwether reality check, note that none of the wealthy nations that are parties to the Paris Accord — or any of the poor ones, for that matter — have come close to meeting the green pledges called for. The International Energy Agency says: “Energy demand worldwide (in 2018) grew by … its fastest pace this decade … driven by a robust global economy … with fossil fuels meeting nearly 70 per cent of the growth for the second year running.”

The reason? Using wind, solar and batteries as the primary sources of a nation’s energy supply remains far too expensive. You don’t need science or economics to know that. Simply propose taking away subsidies or mandates, and you’ll unleash the full fury of the green lobby.

Meanwhile, there are already signs that the green vision is losing lustre. Sweden’s big shift to wind power has not only created alarm over inadequate electricity supplies; it’s depressing economic growth and may imperil that nation’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. China, although adept at green virtue-signalling, has quietly restarted massive domestic coal-power construction and is building hundreds of coal plants for emerging economies around the world.

In the US, utilities, furiously but without fanfare, have been adding billions of dollars of massive oil- and natural-gas-burning diesel engines to the grid. Over the past two decades, three times as much grid-class reciprocating engine capacity has been added to the US grid as in the entire half-century before. It’s the only practical way to produce grid-scale electricity fast enough when the wind dies off. Sweden will doubtless be forced to do the same.

A common response to all of the above is to make more electric cars. But even the optimists’ 100-fold growth in electric vehicles wouldn’t displace more than 5 per cent of global oil demand in two decades. Tepid growth in fossil-fuel demand would be more than offset by growing economies’ appetites for air travel and manufactured goods. Goodness knows what would happen if Trump-like economic growth were to take hold in the rest of the developed world. As Mr Buffett knows, the IEA foresees the US supplying nearly three-fourths of the world’s net new demand for oil and gas.

Green advocates can hope to persuade governments — and thus taxpayers — to deploy a huge tax on hydrocarbons to ensure more green construction.

But there’s no chance that wealthy nations will agree to subsidise expensive green tech for the rest of the world. And we know where the Oracle of Omaha has placed a bet.
Wall Street Journal

Buffett lays down the smart money on fossil fuel’s healthy future.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    SMART investors and realists know that ‘UNreliables’ – wind and solar – can only run on taxpayer dollars for so long.

  2. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  3. Crispin says:

    I am tired of hearing politicians and the media constantly stating that ‘all’ Australians support renewable energy.

    I am Australian, and I most certainly DO NOT support it!

    So this message is effectively ‘fake news’.

  4. Reblogged this on Climate- Science.

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