Rob West

Research Associate

Rob West is the Founder of Thunder Said Energy, a new research consultancy into disruptive energy technologies. His main interests are the ascent of shale, renewables, smaller-scale gas and digital oilfield technologies, to attract capital into the energy industry.

Previously, Rob was the Head of Global Energy Research at Redburn, where he advised institutional investors on the “Super Majors”; and part of Sanford Bernstein’s European Oil & Gas team. He has completed 75 modules from the IPIMS Petroleum Geology & Engineering programme, which is used by 40 upstream oil & gas companies to train internal technical staff. Rob holds a First Class degree in Experimental Psychology from University College, Oxford. He is a CFA Charterholder.

 

 

Contact

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                    [post_content] => US Shale performance has been disappointing this year. Most international organisations have been revising down their 2020 US shale production forecasts. The downgrade reflects lower oil prices, lower rig counts, capital constraints, pipeline bottlenecks and a negative trend in well-productivity. After all, 2019 has been a punishing environment for any company to lower its production guidance, raise its capex or report an operational mishap.

One of the major factors behind the revision in forecasts has been a decline in well productivity. Many commentators have been eager to call a ‘peak’ in Permian productivity, or suggest that the basin is running out of resources. The reasons for this pessimism lie within the data: Based on reported numbers from the EIA, the implied 30-day production rate from new wells in the Permian basin has now fallen 20 percent year-on-year (YoY) to 610 b/d. With an average 30-day IP-rate of 610 b/d and despite the fact that the Permian completed a vast 485 wells per month over the first half of 2019, the month-on-month growth has been slowing down markedly as compared to last year.

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                    [post_content] => In this Energy Insight, we explore the challenges of the energy transition for international oil companies (IOCs). We argue that energy demand forecasts are inconsistent with meeting Paris Agreement targets using currently available and economic technologies and that, barring a radical change in tendencies, significant volumes of oil and gas will be required well after 2050. However, there will be growing political, societal and financial market pressure to accelerate decarbonization. This poses a major challenge for IOCs, whose current business models and technologies are incompatible with full decarbonization, but whose future depends on them being part of the solution. The paper analyzes a set of investment opportunities that the IOCs are pursuing within the decarbonization space and identifies some of the opportunities and risks they face.
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                    [post_content] => Energy transition risk is often viewed as a long-term risk, the impacts of which will not be felt for decades to come. However, this view is an imprecise presentation of reality. This is because although completion of transition might take decades, the increased uncertainty around the transition impacts the energy markets on a much shorter time scale than the transition itself. This article presents the results of a survey of institutional investors on hurdle rates for new energy projects and compares it with information available in the public domain about discount rates on completed projects.  The survey shows that uncertainties associated with energy transition have already started to alter the risk preferences of investors in fossil fuel projects. Investors are demanding a much higher hurdle rate in order to invest in long cycle oil and coal projects. We contend that such changes in risk preferences will have several key implications for fossil fuel markets. First, the payback period of discounted investment costs is extended dis-incentivising long cycle projects, therefore concentrating upstream investment around short-term projects with shorter payback periods. Second, it impacts asset valuation of fossil fuel companies with consequences for firms' cash flows and asset payoffs. Third, it encourages the oil and gas companies to adopt a low risk operation model, focus on the harvesting phase of their oil assets, and move away from exploration, appraisal and development. Fourth, it could affect the volume of available supplies if there is not enough investment into the sector with potential consequences on prices depending on demand projections. Fifth, it could affect the long-term price of oil when energy markets start to price in transition related risks. Sixth, the energy transition process could be accelerated as higher long-term oil prices improve the economics of alternative resources.
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                    [post_content] => The energy landscape is changing rapidly with far-reaching implications for global energy industries and actors, including oil companies and oil-exporting countries. These rapid changes introduce uncertainty in multiple dimensions, the most important of which is the speed of transition.  While the transformation of energy systems is rapid in certain regions of the world, such as Europe, the speed of global energy transition remains uncertain. It is also difficult to define the end game (which technology will win and what the final energy mix will be), as the outcome of transition will vary across regions. A key issue facing oil companies and oil-exporting countries is how they should now position themselves and how best to be part of the renewables ‘revolution’. For oil companies, moving beyond their core business is risky, but a ‘wait-and-see' strategy could be costly, therefore oil companies need to gradually ‘extend’ their business model and rather than a complete shift from hydrocarbons to renewables, they should aim to build an integrated portfolio which includes both hydrocarbon and low-carbon assets. The strategies designed to make this happen need to be flexible and able to evolve quickly in response to anticipated changes in the market. For oil-exporting countries, with subsidized prices and rising domestic energy consumption, there is no conflict between investing in renewables and in hydrocarbons as these countries can liberate oil and gas for export markets, improving the economics of renewables projects. In the long run, however, the main challenge for many oil exporting countries is economic diversification as it is the ultimate safeguard against the energy transition. Whether or not these countries succeed in their goal of achieving a diversified economy has implications for global energy markets and the speed of global energy transformations. In other words, the global energy transition will not only shape political and economic outcomes in oil-exporting countries, but the transformations in these major oil-exporting countries will, in turn, shape the global energy transition - adding another layer of uncertainty to the already complex phenomenon of energy transition.
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Latest Publications by Rob West