Big Oil, Utilities Are Lining up for an Electric Vehicle War
by Kelly Gilblom and Anna Hirtenstein (Bloomberg) BP and Shell have bought electric-car charging companies; Power utilities are boosting sales to homes, chargers on roads — A red-hot electric vehicle market has triggered a face-off between Big Oil and utilities.
Oil majors, who’ve sold fossil fuels to cars for a century, are now moving into an electricity sector that’s preparing for exponential growth. The problem is that utilities, the primary power suppliers for a century, have the same idea.
BP Plc predicts electric vehicle sales will surge by an eye-watering 8,800 percent between 2017 and 2040, making it an attractive business for oil companies as demand for gasoline and diesel are forecast to slow. Big Oil will have to battle the traditional utilities for charging at people’s homes, on the road and even offices of green-car owners.
Vehicle charging points are a way to bring drivers to oil companies’ retail forecourts, keep the cash registers ringing and also bring in revenue from the sale of coffee and snacks. Tufan Erginbilgic, chief executive officer of BP’s downstream business, estimates about half of the gross margin at its retail sites comes from non-fuel sales.
The British oil major said last week it would spend about $170 million to buy electric-vehicle charging company, Chargemaster, with plans to add the technology to its existing network of retail stations. It follows similar moves by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the world’s second-biggest oil company by market value.
Both utilities are also vying to provide drivers with charging infrastructure along highways such as at fuel stations, and rivaling the oil majors’ plans.
“We are covering much of the value chain,” said Rami Syvari, head of international sales and business development at Fortum Charge & Drive, a division focused on electric vehicles. “Not all customers are able to charge at home or at the office; it is an overall package.”
Shell estimates 40 percent of vehicle charging will occur at home and another 40 percent at work. So last year it boughtFirst Utility, the seventh largest power-provider in the U.K., taking what is perhaps the most direct shot at existing electricity suppliers’ market share. READ MORE
The New Oil Cartel Threatening OPEC (OilPrice.com)
Excerpt from OilPrice.com: When reports emerged that India and China are in talks about forming an oil buyers’ club, OPEC was probably too busy with its upcoming June 22 meeting to concern itself with that dangerous alliance. Now, it may be time for it to start worrying.
“The timing is right. The boom in U.S. oil and gas production gives us greater leverage against OPEC,” the Times of India quoted an Indian official as saying last month after the formal start of said talks. The two countries, after all, account for a combined 17 percent of global oil consumption and they are the ones that would be the hardest hit if prices rise as a result of OPEC’s actions.
What’s more, they might not be alone in this attempt to curb OPEC’s clout on the global oil market. According to Bloomberg’s Carl Pope, Europe and Japan, previously reluctant to take part in any anti-OPEC projects, may now join in. The reason they are likely to join in is that unlike in previous oil price cycles, now there are alternatives to fossil fuels. READ MORE