May 17, 2020

U.S. crude oil growth stabilizes global price

Admin
2 min
Crude oil prices
[email protected] Make sure to check out the latest issue of Energy Digital magazine Rising crude oil production in the United States contributed to...

Make sure to check out the latest issue of Energy Digital magazine 

Rising crude oil production in the United States contributed to relatively stable global crude oil prices in 2013, at around the same annual average levels of the previous two years. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) spot prices averaged $98 per barrel (bbl) in 2013, up 4 percent from 2012 and the highest annual average since 2008.

New pipeline and railroad infrastructure alleviated transportation constraints that had put downward pressure on WTI prices. The North Sea Brent spot price averaged $109/bbl, down 3 percent from 2012. Brent prices came under downward pressure as rising U.S. light sweet crude oil production reduced the need for U.S. imports, thereby increasing supplies of Brent-quality crude oil available to the global market.

Significant events affecting oil markets in 2013 included:

U.S. highlights

  • Domestic crude oil production increased 1.0 million bbl/d – rising more than the combined increases in the rest of the world – to reach its highest level in 24 years. This increase marked the largest observed annual increase in U.S. history.
  • Production exceeded imports during several weeks for the first time in nearly two decades.
  • Transportation infrastructure improvements enabled crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, and the Bakken, Permian, and Eagle Ford tight oil formations, to better reach refineries, reducing the need for foreign crude oil.

Global highlights

  • China accounted for almost one-third of growth in global demand and surpassed the United States to become the world's largest importer of crude oil.
  • EIA estimates that global unplanned supply disruptions averaged 2.6 million bbl/d in 2013, 0.7 million bbl/d higher than the previous year. OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) producers had the largest volume outages at 1.8 million bbl/d.
  • Despite significant production disruptions, international crude oil prices were relatively stable last year because higher U.S. production and seasonally elevated Saudi Arabian production (Saudi Arabia maintained peak summer production levels into the fall) offset outages elsewhere.
  • Total liquid fuels production from members of OPEC fell by 0.9 million bbl/d in 2013. Non-OPEC liquid fuels production, concentrated in the United States, grew by more than 1.4 million bbl/d in 2013, more than offsetting the decline in OPEC production.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Share article

Jul 13, 2021

Technology revolution for water retailers

Utilities
technology
IoT
digitaltransformation
Paul Williams
4 min
Paul Williams, Chief Technology Officer at Everflow Tech, reflects on privatisation, industry complexities and future for utilities in a digital world

In April 2017, the UK’s water retail market in the world opened for business – the single biggest change to the water sector since privatisation. This development allowed businesses, charities and public sector organisations to shop around for the best deal.
However, like any industry, this change hasn’t been without its sticking points; here, Paul Williams, CTO at Everflow Tech (pictured far right), discusses how retailers can harness technology to their advantage

Our CEO, Josh Gill, set up independent retailer Everflow Water in 2015, and Everflow Tech is his response to the difficulties it faced.

Quotations could take up to a week to produce, billing software had to be manually updated and brokers were unable to manage the complete customer journey in one place – all of which took time, cost money and allowed for human error.

The more complexity that was involved in billing or quoting, the more contact end customers needed to have with their retailers, pushing up the cost to serve for every SPID. This meant retailers – ourselves included – found themselves in a situation where profits were simply eaten up by service costs.

We also note that it can traditionally be hard for retailers to stay on top of balancing what they are charging their customers with what they are being charged by the market. To further exacerbate this, the longer a change goes unnoticed, the more trouble it can be to balance the issue.

It was these issues that Josh and his (at the time) small team wanted to ameliorate, creating their own technology in the absence of anything else.

This technology evolved into our award-winning retail sales, billing and customer management platform for the water retail market, and Everflow Tech was launched as a standalone venture in 2018, selling the software externally for other water retailers and their customers to benefit from.

What retailers want

As a relatively new entrant to the world of utilities competition, the water market could be seen to be lagging behind, particularly when it comes to innovation.

In fact, as recently as 2019, Ofwat said it expected the industry to be making technological advances and to be working with a culture of innovation, collaborating with companies both within and outside of the sector.

And with cost-savings for consumers traditionally lower than for other utilities, retailers need to be offering something more – whether that’s better support, energy-efficiency advice or more accurate data.

What’s more, consumers have had a taste of the power of technology, and they’ve come to expect nothing less from retailers across the board.

Another key issue – thrown into sharp relief during the past 12 months (and counting) of a pandemic – is rising levels of arrears, which are likely to increase bad debt beyond margins that retailers originally allowed for when the market was created.

In such a low-margin industry, there is a limit to the amount of debt retailers can take on, especially as recovering costs can be a very slow process. Ofwat has signalled that this issue could be addressed as early as this year, with a mechanism for recovering bad debt to be established during 2021/22. 

The market needs simple solutions to better serve the end user, and we were perfectly placed to develop those solutions. At Everflow, our software is designed for the water retail market, by the water retail market.

As well as simple billing, clear-to-understand workflows, and a revenue assurance system to allow retailers to quickly compare market charges, Everflow has also introduced a complete debt solution, allowing missed payment dates to drive late payment charges and escalations automatically.

Retailers are able to design and put out their own bill and quotes, tailoring customer journey and overall experience – whatever the circumstances.

What does the future hold?

Automation is key to any industry; we’re heading into an age of driverless cars and smart homes, and this drive for tech will filter through to our industry, and we need to catch up. 

The Internet of Things – a network of physical objects connected to each other – means human error (and effort) can effectively be removed from many everyday tasks, which goes for meter readings too. However, in the 21st century, the water market is still not leveraging previously emerged technology in the form of smart meters to provide accurate billing. 

Consumers are also becoming more empowered, both to ask for information and change their preferences if they don’t like what they learn. Retailers need to be armed with this information, not next week, not tomorrow, but now – and, at Everflow Tech, we’re putting that information at their fingertips.

But the retailers themselves need to speak up too, and we will always work with them to get the best ideas on what needs to be developed and when.

Our strong bond with Everflow Water, along with other key customers, means we have a direct interest in making sure our systems serve the water market in the best way they can. 

For us, the goal is to make sure retailers on our platform can grow as much as possible, leaving behind laborious daily processes to focus on their own strategic growth and, most importantly, helping their customers.

Share article