Coping with two crises

Note from your OWOE editor: Houston has always been a city whose fortunes have risen and fallen with the price of oil. Now it is being hit with two crises at the same time – the coronavirus pandemic which is significantly cutting oil demand, and the Saudia Arabia-Russia battle for market share which is flooding the world with oil and forcing down its price (see Fig. 1). The result has been immediate and drastic. The almost instantaneous drop in price from the $50-60 per barrel range to the $20-30 per barrel range is worse than the drop in 2014 that almost destroyed the US oil business, with some analysts predicting the possibility of $5/bbl oil. Oil companies are looking at every way possible to cut spending quickly, including cancelling projects, idling rigs, instituting hiring freezes, and laying off staff. Add on top of that the fear of transmission of the coronavirus and need for social distancing are having what could be a long-term impact on oil demand as well as making it even harder to work, assuming one is fortunate to keep a job in this climate.

Fig. 1 – WTI Crude Oil Prices – 10yr History

So what does one do in this difficult situation? OWOE readers should recall a blog by Kelley Ellis from just over a year ago. Ms Ellis was an engineer in the oil industry who chose to step away from her career after being laid off and to devote her time to raising a family. Ms. Ellis, as with many people in Houston and around the country, is now facing the challenges of handling the impact of the current situation on her family. She created a fun little video that should bring a smile to your face.

Backyard Draw – a movie by Kelley Ellis

I hope some good will come out of these two crises. We’re hearing about dramatic improvements in air quality in China, swans and dolphins returning to the Venice canals, reductions in rush hour traffic, people socializing with their neighbors, and just bringing families together. CleanTechnica asks why COVID-19 is taken more seriously than climate change. Well…maybe these two crises will help us focus on the benefits of not depending so heavily on fossil fuels. In the meantime I’m anxious to find out if all the time we’re spending together with social distancing will result in a larger spike in pregnancies or divorces.


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