The vision for self-driving cars outlined by master futurist Walt Disney in a 1958 Disneyland segment, Magic Highway USA, has yet to be achieved, but not for the lack of trying by auto and tech companies. Unfortunately, like many exploration ventures in our history, people die. Usually, those dying are the explorers, but this time it was an innocent female pedestrian finishing a bike ride in Tempe, Arizona. She was hit by an Uber autonomous driving test car that failed to see her in the darkness and hit and killed her. We review what is known about the accident, the state of the autonomous technology, and offer our view of the event’s impact on the development of AVs. The week before last was the worst one of 2018 for stocks, while crude oil proved to be the second best performing asset category. The continuing underperformance of energy equities versus crude oil prices highlights the challenges facing the sector as it tries to win back investor support.
We review the first forecast for the upcoming hurricane season. If current climate conditions continue and the analog years prove representative, we may experience an active storm season, but one focused primarily in the Atlantic Ocean, and occasionally along the East Coast. That may be good news for the energy business. If tropical storms don’t disrupt coastal activity, then natural gas producers may be able to boost LNG shipments, providing needed relief for the industry. Although gas inventories have been drawn down sharply compared to past years, the analog year that scares gas producers has to be 2015 when prices fell throughout the year from springtime highs despite significant gas storage restocking. Neither industrial nor utility demand for natural gas is helping the industry, so it will have to rely on increased LNG shipments to fight off the lack of demand and lower prices.
Canada’s energy struggles continue, but now the courts are sending the pipeline objectors to the sidelines. This isn’t surprising, but it further complicates the political situation between BC and the rest of Canada. It further delays the industry from gaining access to critical global oil and gas markets. We also found out from a BC-First Nations’ report that indigenous people have had their positions on LNG and pipelines miss-represented by the environmentalists in an effort to buttress the green case against these energy projects. Did someone say: Fake News? Auto executives are among the most stressed businessmen as they contemplate how to manage and plan their businesses. How to meet increasing mpg-standards amid the turmoil and uncertainty of EVs and AVs is their challenge. These solutions suggest higher-priced vehicles are in consumers’ future. That comes at the same time interest rates are on the rise, raising consumer financing costs. Are the glory days of auto industry profitability over?