The contracts for selling electricity from a large offshore wind power project to the state of New York have been canceled by both the British Petroleum Company and the Norwegian National Oil Company, indicating that high costs will continue to plague the industry. However, this does not mean it’s all “gloomy and discouraging.” Meanwhile, the atmosphere in the Middle East remains tense as a crucial supplier of global oil and gas. The following details five new trends in the energy industry for the upcoming year.
Despite Fluctuations, Oil Prices are Expected to Remain Stable
The beginning of 2024 sees a tumultuous start for the oil market. Brent crude oil closed at over $78.25 per barrel, jumping more than $2. The explosion incident in Iran highlights the ongoing tension in the Middle East. Persistent geopolitical uncertainties, especially the potential escalation of conflicts such as the Israel-Hamas conflict, mean that oil price volatility will persist. However, most analysts believe that bearish fundamentals will limit price increases.
Global economic data is notably lackluster. Surprisingly strong U.S. oil production helps restrain prices. Meanwhile, internal conflicts within OPEC+ (such as Angola’s exit last month) raise questions about its ability to maintain oil prices through production cuts.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects the average oil price in 2024 to be around $83 per barrel.
More Room for Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2023, a series of massive oil and gas deals were reached, including a $60 billion deal between ExxonMobil and Pioneer Natural Resources, a $53 billion deal between Chevron and Hess, and a $12 billion deal between Occidental Petroleum and ConocoPhillips.
The diminishing competition for resources, especially in high-yield Permian Basin, suggests that more deals could be reached as companies seek to secure drilling resources. However, with many major companies already taking action, the size of transactions in 2024 may be smaller.
Among major U.S. companies, ConocoPhillips has not joined the party. Rumors of a potential “industry-shaking” merger between Shell and BP are circulating, but Shell’s new CEO, Ben van Beurden, insists that significant acquisitions are not a priority until 2025.
Renewable Energy Construction Will Continue Despite Challenges
In 2024, the renewable energy industry will face challenges such as high borrowing costs, soaring raw material prices, and permitting challenges. However, project deployment is expected to set records.
According to the International Energy Agency‘s June 2023 forecast, over 460 gigawatts of renewable energy projects are expected to be installed globally in 2024, a historic high. The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that in 2024, the generation capacity of wind and solar energy will surpass coal for the first time.
Solar projects will drive global growth, with annual installed capacity expected to grow by 7%, while the additional installed capacity of onshore and offshore wind projects will slightly decrease compared to 2023. According to the International Energy Agency, most new renewable energy projects will be deployed in China, with China expected to account for 55% of the total installed capacity of new global renewable energy projects in 2024.
2024 is also considered the “make-or-break year” for clean hydrogen energy. At least nine countries have announced subsidy plans to promote the production of this emerging fuel, but rising costs and signals of weak demand make the industry uncertain.
The Pace of U.S. Industrial Reshoring Will Accelerate
Since the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, the United States has invested heavily in announcing the construction of new clean technology factories. However, 2024 is the first time we have a clear understanding of how companies can gain the lucrative tax credits mentioned in the law and whether these announced factories will actually begin construction.
It is a challenging period for the U.S. manufacturing industry now. The prosperity of manufacturing coincides with a labor market where demand exceeds supply and high raw material costs. This may lead to delays in factory construction and capital expenditures higher than expected. Whether the United States can competitively build clean technology factories at a cost-effective pace will be a key question in the implementation of the reshoring plan.
Deloitte Consulting expects that with more cooperation among East Coast states and federal support for the offshore wind power supply chain construction, 18 planned wind turbine component manufacturing plants will begin construction in 2024.
Deloitte states that this year, the domestic production capacity of solar modules in the United States will double, and it is expected to meet demand by the end of this decade. However, production in the upstream of the supply chain has yet to catch up. The first production plants for solar cells, solar silicon wafers, and solar silicon ingots in the United States are expected to start operations later this year.
The United States Will Enhance Its Dominant Position in the LNG Sector
Preliminary estimates by analysts suggest that in 2023, the United States surpassed Qatar and Australia, becoming the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas. Bloomberg data shows that the United States’ LNG exports exceeded 91 million tons for the year.
In 2024, the United States will strengthen its control over the LNG market. If all goes well, the current daily LNG production capacity of around 11.5 billion cubic feet in the United States will increase, relying on two new projects scheduled to start production in 2024: one in Texas and one in Louisiana. According to analysts at ClearView Energy Partners, three projects reached the critical final investment decision stage in 2023. As many as six projects may be approved in 2024, with a total capacity of 6 billion cubic feet per day.
However, the U.S. LNG industry is not without challenges. Last month, Sherif Souki was forced to leave Tellurian Inc., highlighting that some projects are still struggling.