Secure, Sustainable, Supply Chains.   LNG Mixed Messages.  

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Today’s Key Takeaways: IEA cautiously optimistic about critical mineral supply chains.  Global proven oil reserves increased by 17 billion barrels.  Exxon addresses administrations “mixed messaging” about LNG.  Critical mineral supplies still highly concentrated. 


IEA: more energy minerals work to do
Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News, July 12, 2023

The International Energy Agency’s Inaugural Critical Minerals Market Review provides insights into the progress made, challenges ahead.

The International Energy Agency is cautiously optimistic about the progress made so far along the expanding supply chains for the minerals critical to electric vehicles and renewable energy.

Like the global energy markets it represents, the IEA is transitioning its analysis and policy advocacy toward the clean energy future, and now provides regular updates on the markets, policies, and technology trends for critical minerals.

As part of this transition, IEA has released its first annual Critical Minerals Market Review, an 83-page report that details how record deployment of clean energy technologies is powering enormous demand for minerals like lithium, cobalt, nickel, and copper.

According to the report released on July 11, more than 10 million EVs were sold in 2022, a 60% leap over 2021. Energy storage systems experienced even more rapid growth, with new installation capacity doubling last year. At the same time, photovoltaic installations continue to shatter previous records, and wind power is set to resume its upward march after two subdued years.

To keep pace with the clean energy transition, investments in critical mineral development rose 30% last year, which follows a 20% increase in 2021. Lithium experienced the largest increases in investments last year, a jump of 50%, followed by copper and nickel.

As a result, the market for energy transition minerals hit a high of US$320 billion – roughly the size of the global iron ore mining market – in 2022 and is set for continued rapid growth that moves the once niche energy metals market increasingly closer to center stage for the global mining sector.

If all the global critical energy mineral projects in the pipeline bear fruit, IEA estimates that there would be enough supply to achieve the climate targets set by national governments around the globe. This, however, is a big if and leaves zero margin for project delays or shortfalls of minerals required for specific technologies.

“At a pivotal moment for clean energy transitions worldwide, we are encouraged by the rapid growth in the market for critical minerals, which are crucial for the world to achieve its energy and climate goals,” said International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol. “Even so, major challenges remain. Much more needs to be done to ensure supply chains for critical minerals are secure and sustainable.”



OPEC Says World’s Proven Oil Reserves Rose To 1.56 Trillion Barrels
Tsvetana Paraskova, OilPrice.Com, July 12, 2023

Global proven crude oil reserves increased by 17 billion barrels last year, or by 1.1% compared to 2021, to hit 1.564 trillion barrels in 2022, OPEC said in its Annual Statistical Bulletin this week. 

OPEC defines proven oil reserves as those quantities of crude oil which, by analysis of geoscience and engineering data, can be estimated with reasonable certainty to be commercially recoverable, from a given date forward, from known reservoirs and under defined economic conditions, operating methods, and government regulations.   

OPEC member states hold most of the global proven crude oil reserves. OPEC’s reserves stood at 1.243 trillion barrels at the end of 2022, up by 0.1% compared to the 2021 reserves. In 2021, OPEC’s crude oil reserves had declined marginally from 2020.  



ExxonMobil Sees LNG As A Growth Business Into The Future
David Blackmon, Forbes, July 12, 2023

Speaking to the BBC in London on Monday, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry lashed out at major oil companies that continue to increase capital investments in exploration and development of oil and natural gas resources to meet rising global demand. Kerry was responding to a question about remarks by Shell CEO Wael Sawan last week that such investments are needed, and that mandates to cut oil and gas before proven scalable and affordable alternatives are available would be “dangerous and irresponsible.”

Kerry disagrees, accusing Shell of backtracking from prior commitments to cut its equity oil production, and calling that shift “unnecessary.” He then added, “What we need are company chief executives, looking to the future and investing in that future and accelerating the transition to that future.” But neither Kerry nor any other U.S. official has the power to pick chief executives for the private sector, and companies will make those decisions based on the realities at hand.

Besides, major oil and gas companies have always been capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time, and Shell is certainly doing that, making big, ongoing investments in renewable energy and other “green” projects even as it raises spending on its core business of oil and gas. It is also more than fair to point out that Kerry’s remarks came less than a year after major oil companies in the U.S. were slammed by President Joe Biden and some of his appointees for not investing enough in drilling for more oil and gas during last year’s summer gasoline price spikes.

It’s the kind of mixed messaging the President and his appointees seem to specialize in delivering.

A Key To Addressing Energy Poverty

I was able to catch up with ExxonMobilXOM +1.1% senior VP and head of the company’s global LNG business Peter Clarke shortly after Kerry’s comments were published. In that context, I asked why his company continues to allocate rising capital investments to that and other pieces of its core oil and gas business even as it ramps up its own investments in carbon capture, hydrogen hubs and other alternative ventures.


Concentration of critical minerals’ supply intensifies despite diversification efforts
Staff Writer, Battery Metals, July 11, 2023

Concentration of supply intensified for some critical minerals in 2022, despite US and Europe’s efforts to diversify and reduce reliance on China.

According to the International Energy Agency, the share of the top three producers last year either remained unchanged or has increased further, especially for nickel and cobalt, compared with 2019.

“Our analysis of project pipelines reveals a somewhat improved outlook for mining, but not for refining operations where today’s geographical concentration is greater,” said the agency in its Critical Minerals Market Review 2023.

“Planned projects are mostly developed in incumbent regions, with China holding half of planned lithium chemical facilities and Indonesia representing nearly 90% of planned refined nickel plants,”