Lunar lunacy and bot battles
An exclusive preview of our glorious leader's preface to the 2043 edition of Outlook
Solar, wind, lithium-ion, precious metals and natural gas markets should remain stable in 2043. The Beijing-based IMF expects global GDP to rise again by 2%—its fifth consecutive year at that pace—and the Global Energy Input Algorithm (Geia) has stipulated that demand will rise gradually through the year to reach 180,000 terrawatt-hours. The Global Solar Index has dismissed concerns about sun spots in 2043 and says photo-voltaic capacity will expand to 68TW with completion of the Great Arabia Mirror Project. Wind capacity will hit 43TW.
The year's decisive event will come in October at the Greater China Communist Party Congress in Beijing. Chairman Xi Jinping, the still sprightly octogenarian, may announce his retirement, although his successor is still unclear. Unlike in Sweden, a bot will not be considered for the country's top policy role.
Either way, the party will sign off on the Five-Year Plan for the global economy. Ivanka Trump will lead a coalition of developing regions, including Germania and North America's putative United Prairielands state, to lobby Xi for another bailout. Ominously, the 89-year-old ruler has said priority will be given to even weaker economies, among them Lesser Britain and Latin America.
Despite the strong downtrend in crude oil demand in the past decade, a new pocket of jet-fuel consumption will open up in 2043 when Tesla, the space-travel arm of India's Tata, inaugurates its new lunar route. This should add 0.7m barrels a day, or 1.5%, to global oil consumption next year. Russia has authorised Opec to produce half of this increase and will allow other increments to be released from Eastern Siberia and Texas.
Oil prices will be let off the leash a bit in 2043, according to Russia's finance ministry, and will reach a five-year bitcoin high of 2.23 per barrel.
An increase in the Universal Basic Income in Western Hemisphere countries will not quell the pro-fossil fuel Resistance Movement
Unregulated liquefied natural gas prices are more difficult to predict. Qatar's 140m tonnes a year of exports have now all been pre-sold—but the onslaught of Canadian west coast and Tanzanian supplies, all to be traded as spot cargoes, hangs over the market. The collapse of LNG futures on Singapore's SGX board late in 2042 has not led to an uptick in demand in key Mideast and south Asian markets. Yet Gazprom parent company Novatek has warned that any further freezing of the Northern Sea Route—an outcome of Geia's 10-year-old global cooling directive—could lift shipping costs from its string of undersea methane-hydrate-fed Arctic LNG plants. Expect these bullish and bearish forces to leave the SGX global benchmark hovering at around Ƀ6 per million British thermal units.
Decommissioning will be a big theme of the world's energy industry in 2043. Ireland-based Apple will continue its iRefinery project, harvesting steel and other materials from defunct refineries for repurposing in the EuroHyperloop Network. Ecomajor Shell will spend ¥120bn to launch its Coral Britannia project, a joint venture with Greenpeace Inc to create artificial islands and spawning grounds around ageing oil infrastructure in the North Sea. At its peak, the development will employ 4,500 robots, 1,600 drones and three people.
In the Middle East, Sino-Russian firm Aramco will enjoy another bumper year as CO2 injections into the Ghawar Global Carbon Repository rise in line with the targets announced in 2041 at the Neom World Post-Decarbonisation Summit. The kingdom's Public Investment Fund will step up its hunt for more eco-assets globally, finalise its stake in the Sahel Solar Farm, and fund construction of its transmission lines to Europe.
Despite Geia's diktat, politics and macroeconomics will affect markets in 2043. An increase in the Universal Basic Income in Western Hemisphere countries will not quell the pro-fossil fuel Resistance Movement: bot-burnings and other street protests, widely believed to be coordinated from hideouts in the ungovernable southern bayous of the Prairielands, soared in 2042 and more can be expected next year, as well as efforts to disrupt blockchain trading. Smuggling routes for oil and even coal have become more drone-resistant, and the UN's Green HelmetDroids remain ill-equipped to shut them down. Turkey's president has urged other G4 leaders to launch a global crack-down on illicit carbon fuels.
Mexican-led mediation to reunite America's coastal cities with Ivanka Trump's Mar-a-Lago Island-based government will bear fruit, provided Mark Zuckerberg's New Democrats agree to divest their in-car windshield news entertainment service. In markets, the departure of Congo from the Organisation of Battery Material Exporting Countries late last year means a price war is imminent. Goldman Sachs, the investment arm of conglomerate Alibaba, will pounce on the newly available precious metals, though their price will remain a closely guarded secret.
PE_EiC_Bot_v.4.1 is Petroleum Economist's Future Editor-in-Chief
This article is part of Outlook 2018, our annual book looking at energy market trends for the year ahead. To purchase a copy, click here