Recording 1 (00:00):
This episode of EnergyCents is brought to you by IHS Markits Financial and Capital Markets Energy Advisory Group. Our team of experts provides the investment community with actionable insight and integrated thought leadership that identify the trends and trend makers of global energy markets. Solutions cover the full energy and natural resources sector, from traditional fossil fuels to emerging clean tech ideas and supply chains, and are available via recurring reports, webinars, robust data sets and personal engagements with experts.
Hill Vaden (00:31):
All right, welcome back to EnergyCents. This is Hill Vaden, and I am here as usual with Breanne Dougherty to discuss all things lying on the intersection of energy and finance. And we are recording today on Friday the 13th. And I think Bree the last time Friday the 13th hit in 2020 we were two days after a pandemic, global pandemic. So, are you nervous at all heading into the weekend for this Friday the 13th?
Breanne Dougherty (01:01):
I wasn't nervous. Now, I'm a bit nervous, Hill, to be honest. Friday the 13th I wake up and I think, "Oh, it's Friday," and it's always kind of one of those extra mysterious days and it makes you think... it gives you pause at first thing in the morning. But I hadn't done the research about when the last time, and that it was tied to news of the pandemic, so I'm a bit more worried than I was five minutes ago. Thanks, Hill.
Hill Vaden (01:25):
Yes, 2020 has been not the greatest year in history for a handful of reasons, but apparently pandemic was declared on Wednesday, the 11th of March. And so, this is the first Friday the 13th since then. So, at least COVID's not spiking again. Sarcasm.
Breanne Dougherty (01:47):
Yeah, everybody else isn't seeing Hill's face, but yes, hilarious, Hill. What's interesting though, it was... and I know we've probably talked about... I mean, everybody's talked about this, but the other day somebody, again, one of my friends brought up again about, do you remember that the Australia wildfires were the start of 2020? You know, that's what everybody [inaudible 00:02:10].
Hill Vaden (02:09):
Breanne Dougherty (02:11):
I don't want to minimize that, that was obviously awful and hugely impactful and a terrible situation, but you forget kind of... It's just been such a long year and the things that have been included in it.
Hill Vaden (02:28):
I saw a black cat this morning as I was walking the dog, fortunately it did not cross my path and I'm still superstitious because when I was like nine or 10 or something, a black cat crossed my path and I lost my basketball later that day.
Breanne Dougherty (02:40):
You lost your basketball?
Hill Vaden (02:42):
So, I will walk around out of my way to avoid black cats, still, 30 years later.
Breanne Dougherty (02:48):
Because today's [inaudible 00:02:50], your baseball. Okay. And then you've got construction going on, on your home, so then did you then walk under a ladder?
Hill Vaden (02:54):
I have not done that yet. Yes, so far... I guess where I'm tempting fate is going camping this weekend. And of course, there's the whole camp story. It is at Camp Crystal Lake that Jason was associated with, in the real Friday the 13th?
Breanne Dougherty (03:07):
I think that was the name. Have you told your kids that story?
Hill Vaden (03:13):
No, I haven't. And my wife is still gets scared. You know in the Jason movies, there's that, "Ki ki ki, ma ma ma"?
Breanne Dougherty (03:19):
Hill Vaden (03:21):
If you still do that around her, she'll still get kind of freaked out, but-
Breanne Dougherty (03:24):
Yeah, because it's weird. Why would you do that?
Hill Vaden (03:27):
It's totally [inaudible 00:03:28]. Speaking of weird-
Breanne Dougherty (03:31):
[crosstalk 00:03:31] I would also get freaked out by that if somebody was randomly walking [inaudible 00:03:35].
Hill Vaden (03:36):
It makes it fun. So, today we've got Justin Jacobs back with us for our special Friday the 13th episode, to talk about Biden energy policy or the what the energy sector could look like under a Biden leadership. Welcome back, Justin.
Justin Jacobs (03:59):
Thanks for having me guys.
Hill Vaden (04:01):
So, I guess first, just a little bit of esoteric, Joe Biden, depending on... I'm not sure Georgia's in it or not, but the Steve Miller Band song went all the way from Phoenix, Arizona, all the way to Tacoma, Philadelphia, Atlanta, LA, what is it? What's the a song?
Breanne Dougherty (04:25):
Hill Vaden (04:26):
No. Well, whatever it is, this may be the first time that a president has won all those Steve Miller states in a row. That was a little Twitter factoid that I picked up recently. So, assuming that comes in, Biden potentially has the opportunity to change a lot of the energy... I guess views, of the U.S. The first one seems to be... their first focus, from at least some of the headlines, seems to be around the pipelines. I think it was in the paper yesterday, that the Dakota Access and Keystone, or most within the sites, we do agree that that is a top priority for the incoming Biden administration?
Justin Jacobs (05:13):
Yeah. So, in pipelines, I think, clearly that's going to be an issue that comes to the forum for the industry. I think, as we talked about before, it's not strictly a kind of partisan who's in the white house issue, because we've seen over the last year, couple of years, it's just become very, very difficult in the U.S. to build kind of these big cross border pipelines. But, yeah, Dakota Access is still in the courts, after there was a stay placed on the project by the courts earlier this year. And I think that project had a friend in the white house who was willing to kind of push forward up until January 20th. And, of course, it was the Obama administration who kind of tried to stop that from happening. So I think, if that is still in collegial limbo going into next year, I think it's going to be... it could become very difficult for that project to get back on track or get back up and running at a full level.
Justin Jacobs (06:08):
And the other one obviously is Keystone XL, which is, I think pretty clearly not going to happen with a Biden administration, which some important knock-on effects up into Canada and right down to the Gulf Coast where refiners have probably mostly given up on that ever happening. But, at one point, it was going to be quite an important pipeline for them.
Breanne Dougherty (06:30):
So, when we think about kind of what... and I know there's still a little bit of [inaudible 00:06:36], kind of how things will sit on the split in Senate and things to that effect, but what really can Biden accomplish via... in whatever fashion he might be able to accomplish things?
Justin Jacobs (06:48):
Yeah, so the question of our Congress and Senate is really important that it will come down to two special elections coming up in Georgia. So, Georgia in the spotlight again, and there are going going to be the two special runoff elections in January, January 5th, I believe. And as it stands right now, the Republicans have 50 seats sewn up and the Democrats have 48. So, if the Democrats won both of those, they would have a 50/50 split with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the kind of deciding ballot. So, it would be an effective majority for the Democrats, which would change a lot because then you'd have... Chuck Schumer, as the majority Senate leader, who would get to decide what bills get brought forward and a lot of that kind of stuff. So, that's hugely important. So, I think at this point, Georgia is historically a red state, so yeah, I think it's more likely that the Republicans out at least one of those seats, if not both. But that's going to be hugely important.
Justin Jacobs (07:49):
So, what matters on the Senate side is, or having control of the Congress, is taxing and spending really. So, Joe Biden has a hugely ambitious climate plan that involves $2 trillion over four years of spending on a lot of things, like rolling out electric vehicle charging stations, putting a lot of money into research and developments on the clean tech side, just encouraging a lot of spending on wind and solar, improving building efficiencies and things like that. So, if the Democrats pull out a majority, I think you can see some momentum behind that. It'll be difficult because you still have... you still need to win over the most conservative Democrats to that package. So, it's not a done deal at that point even, but that's important. If it's a divided government, which seems most likely at this point, then the focus for the Biden administration really shifts onto what they can do through regulatory action and executive orders and kind of executive policy and foreign policy as well, which is another area that is going to be very important.
Breanne Dougherty (08:54):
What kind of things fall under that executive policy?
Justin Jacobs (08:57):
Yeah. So, executive policy, one of the... so, for the oil and gas industry, one of the biggest issues is going to be whether Biden follows through on this pledge to ban drilling or fracking on federal lands. That's kind of something that's been... that he's talked about sometimes in some confusing ways, because he's, at one point, said he was going to ban fracking when he... it came across as if he was talking about very generally banning fracking. And that obviously got used against him from Donald Trump in the general election. And kind of what he really meant is, he was going to ban fracking on federal lands, which of course [crosstalk 00:09:32]-
Breanne Dougherty (09:31):
A big difference.
Justin Jacobs (09:33):
Yeah, which is a big difference for... which people in the industry know very well, but it played out very differently in the campaign.
Hill Vaden (09:40):
And that big difference being that banning fracking on federal lands is almost a non-issue because most of the fracking is on privately held [crosstalk 00:09:48].
Justin Jacobs (09:48):
Exactly, yeah, privately held and state lands where the federal government has very little influence. And production from federal lands is in kind of low single digits for oil and kind of mid-single digits for gas, in terms of percentage of production. So, it's very small. And the industry has some options. One, they've been stockpiling permits for the last six, seven, eight months, so they have a couple years really of runway where they have these permits in their pockets and they can keep drilling. And most of these companies also have options to drill on private land as well. So, what you really see is the capital that might've gone to public lands, really shifting onto private lands. Nevertheless, I mean, it's an important issue for certain companies and specific areas, especially the New Mexico part of the Permian, which is a really big growth area, that kind of promised area for a lot of companies. So, that is something that, I think, could be risk of really seeing activity and production slow down quite a bit there.
Breanne Dougherty (10:46):
But not till probably the mid-20s maybe [inaudible 00:10:48]?
Justin Jacobs (10:48):
Yeah, but it's a couple of years down the line, and when you look at it from a kind of big picture impact on total U.S. production, it's not really that significant.
Hill Vaden (10:58):
Well, in the grand scheme of things, at least in the immediate term, the price of oil is not banning fracking, but certainly is limiting fracking.
Justin Jacobs (11:07):
It has, yeah. The market is banning fracking. [inaudible 00:11:10]. Which we got pretty close to a couple of months ago when prices were turning negative.
Breanne Dougherty (11:18):
Although, we don't think we see those prices coming again anytime soon, do we?
Justin Jacobs (11:21):
No, that's right. Yeah.
Breanne Dougherty (11:22):
Justin Jacobs (11:23):
Yeah, if you look at our forecast going in 40 U.S. dollar world, production kind of holds pretty flat here going over the next year.
Breanne Dougherty (11:33):
Where does the offshore fit in? [crosstalk 00:11:36].
Justin Jacobs (11:36):
The offshore? Biden's been... has not talked about the offshore really explicitly. If this federal lands permitting issue extends to the offshore, which it very well may, it's even... the impact on production is even more drawn out, because companies have their leases and they're kind of legally much more secure and they have permits and things like that locked up. So, this analysis that we've done shows that you don't really see an impact on production for another 10 years, assuming basically no new permitting or leasing activity in the Gulf of Mexico. It obviously affects exploration drilling and things like that, to a much larger extent in the near term. But again, the oil price and kind of the other issues that are going on in the industry around some of these big companies shifting their portfolios away from long term bets on frontier exploration and things like that, is going to have an impact as well. And probably more of an impact than anything you're going to see from a Biden administration.
Hill Vaden (12:36):
So, we talked about how executive orders can be used to discourage certain types of activity. Could they be used similarly to encourage certain types of activity or does that require more participation from Congress?
Justin Jacobs (12:49):
Yeah, no, that's a great point as well. So, when you talk about permitting, it's also a huge issue for the renewables industry. A lot of wind and solar capacity is built on federal lands and it's interesting, one of the things you hear from the oil and gas industry is that permitting take a very long time and a lot of these issues are also faced by the renewables industry. So, I think you'll actually see a push from the Biden administration around NEPA and some of the other bureaucratic rules to try to expedite the ability of wind and solar companies to be able to build much faster on federal lands.
Hill Vaden (13:31):
And any sort of tax policy though, that's going to require participation from Congress, right? And so does that maybe put, I guess, executive orders on somewhat of a backseat? There's been a lot of press, there's an editorial or an op-ed yesterday in The Washington Post endorsing executive orders. There was a counterpoint in New York Times saying if he goes hard with executive orders, he's going to lose those 48 to 50 Republicans that need to work with him on tax policy.
Justin Jacobs (14:03):
Yeah, yeah. So, I think there's a couple issues there. One big thing with the executive orders is obviously what we've seen. The Trump administration has relied on executive orders to a very large extent. These can just be reversed. So, President-elect Biden's going to come in, in the first day, and one of his first acts is going to be to issue a kind of like kind of mega-executive order that just rolls back like hundreds of Trump administration executive orders. In the U.S. system, when you try to rule by executive fiats, it's can be very temporary because the next guy can come in and roll back a lot of that. And on the congressional-
Hill Vaden (14:39):
Which is something that keeps happening.
Justin Jacobs (14:39):
Hill Vaden (14:41):
Which, as an observer, is just foolish. I mean, I know compromise is hard, but everybody just keeps doing these executive orders and spending the first two years of any incoming administration undoing what the other person did. It's-
Justin Jacobs (14:52):
Breanne Dougherty (14:59):
And I mean, for the participants, the uncertainty of something that's been granted via executive order, or rescinded the executive order, is not helpful, I would think, from an investment purpose. Because we all know that those investment time horizons are not four years.
Justin Jacobs (15:10):
Breanne Dougherty (15:12):
And, I mean, the uncertainty that creates in the market, I'm sure, is frustrating for many.
Justin Jacobs (15:18):
Yeah, definitely. So, getting back to that question about what can happen on the congressional side, even if you have a narrow Republican/Democrat split, I think you can get smaller, more piecemeal deals around some of these important energy issues, through budget bills and things like that, that have to go through, regardless of how polarized things are. So, a big one on the renewable side is the wind and solar tax credits, which are hugely important. It's the kind of outlook for growth for those sectors. And they've had bipartisan support in the past, and I think that probably continues because I think the politics around it kind of worked for both sides. So, senators from Texas are not going to support a huge climate bill that involves $2 trillion of spending.
Justin Jacobs (16:13):
But I think they will go along with extending those wind and solar tax credits because Taxes, I think, is the number one state for wind energy, and it's top three or top five for solar energy. So, those investments are important to the Texas economy, so I think you can do kind of smaller deals around those smaller piecemeal issues. Similarly for electric vehicles, I think, there's some bipartisan support around electric vehicles. So, if you allocate funding for building out some of the infrastructure on that, I think you can still see that happen, even with the divided government.
Breanne Dougherty (16:47):
Well, it's interesting, we actually just had a conversation about EVs on another... on our previous podcast and it's Texas... Hill, correct me if I'm wrong, Texas has the greatest EV growth.
Hill Vaden (17:01):
I think so. I think it was Texas and... California was what? The most EVs and Texas is the fastest growing or something?
Breanne Dougherty (17:07):
Justin Jacobs (17:07):
That sounds right, yeah.
Breanne Dougherty (17:09):
Which was interesting, right? And the argument there being, if people want to buy it, they're going build the... Texas is going to build the infrastructure and create the subsidies to support them.
Justin Jacobs (17:21):
Yeah. And on that point, I mean, of course Tesla is building a Gigafactory in Austin. Which I think is quite a smart move from them in terms of kind of building broad political support around the future of electric vehicles.
Hill Vaden (17:40):
Yeah. So, when we look also at... I mean, I guess one way to reach compromise with the Senate and House, is job creation. And it's easy to put people... I say easy, that's somewhat easy, I suppose, to scale up oil and gas and jobs associated with oil and gas, because it's been done before, time and again. Will it be as easy to create jobs with a proactive "green" energy legislation? And I guess as an extension of that, are there more jobs to create outside of energy and does energy maybe fall to the bottom if job creation is a motivator? Domestic job creation.
Justin Jacobs (18:18):
Yeah. So, I think if we go back to this wind and solar tax credit issue, so when we... Our analysis, when our teams look at this, the difference between having that tax credit extended and not having that tax credit extended is like 40% growth with it extended. So obviously, I don't have the numbers off the top of my head, but that is a lot of jobs being created in that sector or not being created depending on whether you pass that or extend that tax credit or not.
Justin Jacobs (18:47):
So, yeah, I mean the jobs issue is really up the center, and you see that with the way Biden campaigns on the issue. It was yes about the climate, but it was the way he won over unions and things like that, or it was really framing it around job creation. So, if you're spending a lot of money on building efficiencies and some of the, even that kind of lesser talked about stuff, those things do create a lot of jobs and they create jobs kind of more broadly, I think, than the oil and gas industry, which is something where, why you can build maybe counterintuitive political coalitions around some of these issues. So, yes, I think you're going to see a lot of that from the Biden administrations, where these issues are really framed around creating jobs.
Breanne Dougherty (19:29):
And what can you do with respect to appointments, right? How big of a factor will some of his announcements around who he's going to put in charge of different commissions or what have you? Are there going to be big implications of that, or is that something that kind of gets watered down?
Justin Jacobs (19:45):
Yeah. So, the appointments are hugely, hugely important. It's something that maybe plays under the radar for people who don't live in DC, like I do, or aren't plugged into kind of what goes on behind the scenes. But, it's hugely important. And the Biden team released their transition team in the last week, and without getting into too many details, I think one of the things that you see is that they have people with climates and clean tech experience, clean energy experience, really across the bureaucracy. So, you have people with that experience in that treasury and the obvious ones like energy and the EPA, the interior, Department of Interior, people [inaudible 00:20:27]. So, you're going to see, I think, a really kind of whole of government approach to climate and clean sec.
Justin Jacobs (20:34):
And one of the ones that I think is really interesting and is important to the listeners here is, it's going to be a much bigger issue for the parts of the government that regulate the financial industry. So, appointments to the SEC, appointments to some of the different financial regulators, I think are going to have a real focus on climates and really pushing for disclosures around climate risk. I think appointments to the fed are going to have that bent as well. So, the fed is talking about joining this kind of club of federal banks from around the world that are focused on some of these issues around reporting climate risk and how you think about climate risk within a kind of broader monetary policy framework. And we haven't really heard any of that out of the U.S. over the last four years, but it's become a big issue around Europe. So, I think you'll see a lot of... a lot more alignment around some of those issues, climate, finance, sustainable investments, and ESG investing, regulations and things like that between the U.S. and Europe.
Breanne Dougherty (21:36):
I think that's such an interesting point, because I think you're right, that so many energy observers in general... you're always watching those energy things, right? So, be it FERC or whichever authority that you might be watching, and typically are watching the classic energy ones, but you're right. This transition to sort of incorporating climate initiatives via financing and things like that allows these shifts to make a much more impactful difference than we probably even think of on the surface.
Justin Jacobs (22:08):
Yeah. And you mentioned FERC there, and FERC is one that I skipped over, but hugely important. We've seen, over the last few months, that they've talked about ways just through the regulatory process where you can encourage carbon pricing and you can encourage greater kind of competitive avenues for batteries and things like that, and in competitive markets that are really important to the industry.
Breanne Dougherty (22:34):
And FERC is still running two people shy, so I mean, hopefully... I guess that's where we're going to run into issues potentially, right though? That if you do have a split government and the Senate drags its heels in trying to get the other two bodies put on FERC. Although my understanding, I had this discussion last week, my understanding is that FERC is very much pretty even keel, that it's ever... you get one Republican and one Democrat. It's not as though you can really bias the board, the commission, in any way, shape or form, but still it's running two shy, and it's been that way for a long time at this point. So, getting five bodies on it would be a win, I think, in general.
Justin Jacobs (23:15):
Yeah. Yeah. I think the reason it's been shy is more of a Trump administration issue. We've seen this across the government where they just... they have an idea that the government and the things should be small and not particularly active.
Breanne Dougherty (23:27):
Yeah, [crosstalk 00:23:27].
Justin Jacobs (23:28):
Yeah. So, you're just going to see much different priorities out of the Biden administration. I think you'll see a quick push to staff these places up and give them push.
Hill Vaden (23:39):
Looking ahead, maybe a couple, I'll say years, rather than a couple of months, where might be some surprises? Like Obama, I think tide oil really surged under Obama. It continued to surge and maybe even surged more aggressively under Trump, but a lot of that was done under Obama. The coal surged negatively, which I think was directly in the view of the Obama campaign, but tide oil's a bit of a surprise. Fracking, which led to tide oil, was a bit of surprise. Any surprises that we should watch out for with Biden in regards to energy?
Justin Jacobs (24:14):
Yeah. In terms of surprises, I think one kind of market driven surprise, and Breanne can probably talk about this better than I can, but you might even see in Biden's first year, a kind of mini coal resurgence, just because of what's going on. If U.S. gas prices get up into well over $3, all of a sudden some of the coal that has been switched off over the last couple of years kind of becomes competitive and it makes a come back. And I mean, I think the structural kind of decline of coal is firmly in place, but in the short term here, you could have a kind of market driven response on the coal side. Other surprises? I don't know. I think you're going to see Biden push climate in the foreign policy and kind of international arena quite a lot, and I think you could see climate come up in trade policy quite a bit. There's a big push in Europe to do these kind of carbon border adjustments kind of taxes, so I think you could see the U.S. try to join up with that in some, some interesting ways. Again, some of that will come down to who controls Congress, because you do need congressional support to approve those kinds of trade deals.
Hill Vaden (25:23):
What about with China? So, I think China is part of some of the trade posturing from the Obama, or I'm sorry, the Trump administration. China has to buy some large amount of natural gas or energy in general. Does that go away? I think they're, I guess, a little bit behind on the buying right now, does that accelerate or just completely removed from the table?
Justin Jacobs (25:47):
Yeah, that's an interesting question. I mean, right now, they're... on the energy, especially they're way, way, way behind from the commitments. It's like a fraction of what they committed to. And part of that is like, targets were set in dollar terms and obviously the gas prices crashed and everything, so like you say, the actual quantity that they would have to buy at today's prices compared to when that deal was struck is like-
Breanne Dougherty (26:13):
Gee, is hindsight 20/20. [inaudible 00:26:15].
Justin Jacobs (26:17):
It was massive. But I think that the Biden administration does not feel any kind of need to abide by the terms of that deal. I mean, I think those... they'll kind of try to strike their own agreements, and I think they'll orient that much more around climate issues. So, I think they'll push, rather than bilateral trade issues, I think they'll push really hard on this belt and road initiative that China has where... and a big part of that is building coal plants and things like that around Southeast Asia and Central Asia. And I think you'll see the Biden administration push really hard and say, "Look, you have this net zero target. You've said all these great things about, everybody should be part of The Paris Accord." And so, I think they'll push very hard on kind of greening this, the belt and road initiative. So, I think that's one way that a Biden administration can really change the international balance on some of these issues.
Breanne Dougherty (27:14):
And, I mean, I'm going to put you on the spot here, so forgive me.
Justin Jacobs (27:17):
That's where I like to be.
Breanne Dougherty (27:19):
I'm always asking for forgiveness on these types of things. Okay, so if you think of Biden's first 30 days, or let's just say for 60 days, because 30 days, there's a big party, I'm sure after the first day, so give him a little bit of time. The first 60 days, what do you think he's he's going to do first, is I guess the big question? Or needs to do first in order to establish what he and Kamala are going to about for the next four years? It doesn't have to be energy.
Justin Jacobs (27:49):
Well, I think, this actually is an energy one, and I think the big one on day one is going to be rejoining The Paris Agreements, and I think he'll set that in a context of climate change and clean energy being a big part of his foreign policy and a big pillar of his foreign policy. So, he'll kind of set it around we're rejoining The Paris Agreement. This is the U.S. kind of rejoining the multilateral international framework that the U.S. helped build, but kind of pulled back from for the last four years. And this is us, re-engaging with our traditional allies and doing all of that stuff that I think Biden himself believes in, quite a lot. And he's going to push for countries to be much more ambitious on their own ambitions and commitments to reducing carbon emissions. And I think he'll talk about his own plans for getting to zero emissions by 2035 and net zero by 2050, and I think he'll kind of start talking about pushing much, much harder on that front. So, I think we're entering into a period where I think climate and energy broadly in the Biden administration's going to be a really big issue.
Breanne Dougherty (29:00):
Excellent. Well, I mean, I think we can probably say that, up until even between now and when that might happen, there's going to be plenty in the news.
Justin Jacobs (29:10):
Breanne Dougherty (29:15):
With respect to the recent election results. This is not the forum to delve more into those issues. I'll leave that for somebody else. But, yeah, needless to say there's a lot happening, not only in a few weeks, but likely over the next four years on that. Thank you so much, Justin, for joining us again on this IHS Markit podcast. It's always nice to have one of our own from the FCNT join us... FCMT pardon me, join us. So, we really, really appreciate it. And thank you, we hope our listeners join us for our next one. We wish you well, Justin.
Hill Vaden (29:44):
Justin Jacobs (29:44):
Thank you, bye.
Recording 1 (29:47):
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Recording 2 (30:09):
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