Venezuela’s oil production collapse continues
As its economy sunk deeper into crisis, Venezuela’s oil production continued to plummet. By November it had fallen to 1.137 million bpd — a decline of nearly 50% since 2016. Continued declines will threaten Venezuela’s status as a crude oil exporter, putting further pressure on the country’s economy. To make matters worse, ConocoPhillips won a $2 billion arbitration against Venezuela’s state oil company over the 2007 expropriation of two oil projects in Venezuela. Reuters reported that ConocoPhillips seized some of Venezuela’s Caribbean assets as payment for this debt.
Pruitt departs; ethanol industry celebrates
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt was a thorn in the side of the U.S. ethanol industry. He had opposed the country’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as Oklahoma’s Attorney General, and he seemed focused on weakening the program as EPA Administrator. Shares of most ethanol producers rose following the news of his resignation, and not long after his replacement had been named President Trump announced an end to restrictions on the year-round sale of fuel blends containing 15% ethanol (E15).
New carbon dioxide emissions record
When the 2018 BP Statistical Review of World Energy was released in June, it showed a new all-time high for global carbon dioxide emissions in 2017, which were 426 million metric tons higher than in 2016. This was 1.6% higher than the previous year, and was higher than the 10-year average growth rate of 1.3%. China was the world’s top carbon dioxide emitter, with Chinese emissions totaling more those of the U.S. and the European Union combined.
OPEC raises then cuts production
Following OPEC’s 174th (Ordinary) Meeting in June, the cartel announced, in agreement with Russia, that it would increase production for the first time since implementing production cuts in November 2016. This news was a response to oil prices that had recovered back to the $70/bbl range. But a trade war between the U.S. and China began to raise concerns about demand growth. Then in December, following the oil price collapse in the fall — which was aided by Saudi Arabia accommodating President Trump’s request that they increase production — OPEC and its allies agreed to cut oil production by 1.2 BPD.