I was one of the first analysts to pronounce this as the "Golden Age of Materials Science."
You know what I'm talking about - all those "Miracle Materials" that are changing our lives: There are the advanced composites that lighten our airliners; the great plastics that increase the "cool factor" of today's cars - while also making them safer and more economical. They include one of earth's more abundant resources, and the new discoveries, such as graphene, that promise to revolutionize biotechnology, computers, and industry.
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Oil Prices Promise to Head Higher As Mexican Production Dwindles
In addition to Iranian threats and growing demand, dwindling production of crude in Mexico promises to push oil prices higher as well.
Mexico is the third biggest exporter of oil to the United States. That's bad news for the U.S. economy which always gets hit when oil prices rise.
From 2004 to 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy reports such jolts, along with OPEC price manipulation, cost roughly $1.9 trillion. Plus, a recession followed each major blow.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Mexican oil production reached a peak of 3.2 million barrels a day in 2008. And by 2011, it wasn't even producing 3 million barrels a day.
Since then oil production has slipped to 2.5 million barrels a day.
Worse still, Mexico could actually become a net importer of oil within a decade if it cannot find fresh discoveries to make up for the 25% production drop since 2004 and fails to change its current policies.
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This Key Energy Metric Could Make You A Lot of Money
Last week I discussed what EROEI is-and how to use it.
This week I'd like to talk about how this key metric affects the balance of your energy investment portfolio.
Now, this is certainly not the only element in determining preferable stock moves, but it's critical that you know the EROEI because it could make you a lot of money.
Recognizing the real elements that determine the genuine cost of energy production, EROEI is becoming an important factor in estimating profit margins.
And those margins certainly influence the performance of a stock as we've seen all across the energy value chain in recent months.
EROEI refers to the amount of energy used to produce energy.
If this ratio produces a figure of 1.0, EROEI is telling us that it takes one barrel of oil equivalent to produce one barrel as a result.
Anything under 1.0 means that more energy is consumed in the production process than is gained as an end product.
EROEI has the advantage of being a useful yardstick throughout the energy curve - from upstream production sites (wellheads, generating facilities) through midstream (gathering, transit, storage and initial processing) to downstream (refineries, terminals, wholesale and retail distribution, end use).
Some applications of EROEI are already in wide usage, although we don't tend to think about them in these terms. Energy-efficiency ratings on appliances, heating and cooling systems, windows, or building supplies are an application at the end of the energy curve.
But how can we use this to fine-tune an investment portfolio?
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Oil Prices: U.S. Drought Hurting More than Crops
The unusually warm and dry weather across more than half of the United States has resulted in one of the worst droughts in U.S. history. Much has been made about how the crisis will affect crops and cattle, but it could also alter oil production and prices.
With nearly 64% of the contiguous United States in a drought, the highest percentage since the U.S. Drought Monitor began recording such data in 2000, the economic repercussions are searing.
To date, 2012 has already surpassed 2011's $12 billion in drought losses, and this year is on pace to rival the droughts of 1980 and 1988, which endured losses worth a current value of $56 billion and $78 billion, respectively.
According to 70 years' worth of data studied by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, weather (from heat waves to cold spells to droughts) can cause up to a 1.7% rise or fall each year in the U.S. economy's gross domestic product.
Farmers and agricultural companies have been voicing concerns, now oil and gas companies are speaking up.
With farmers trying to hold on to every ounce of water they find, oil companies don't know how they will get the water needed to drill into their oil fields.
"Water is the key to unlocking oil and gas. We take it for granted," in the U.S., said Chris Faulkner, president and chief executive officer of Breitling Oil & Gas, which has numerous operations in several of the new shale regions.
The Oil Supply Constriction Is Fast Approaching
Shortly I'll be off to Victoria Station, the train to Gatwick, and a welcome flight home to Pittsburgh. However, there is an accelerating development I need to tell you about before getting on the plane.
As you know, last month, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) and the U.S. government announced they were releasing 60 million barrels of crude oil into the international market, 30 million of which coming from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).
I said at the time that this would only make matters worse. The market has already confirmed my conclusion.
The move hit an unprepared market while I was in Athens on the first leg of this five-week trip. And from the outset, neither the rationale provided by Paris nor Washington rang true.
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