Energy Security Fact Pack: Q3 2015

SAFE’s Energy Security Fact Pack gives readers a data-driven overview of the latest trends in energy security, including domestic and global oil production and consumption, oil market dynamics and prices, and up-to-date information on fuel efficiency and alternative fuel vehicles.

This quarter’s edition updates fiscal breakeven oil prices for select OPEC member countries and Russia for 2016, which range between the low $60s per barrel to $190. Low oil prices are forcing many oil exporting countries to rethink revenue and spending policies as they tap foreign reserve assets and seek fiscal and political stability.

Libya, plagued with unrest and violence, and Venezuela, suffering under the burden of sprawling social programs, rely on breakeven prices of approximately $180 per barrel—a sizeable increase over 2014 levels. Even less extreme cases, however, such as Saudi Arabia at $100 per barrel and Russia at $75 per barrel, highlight the need to find alternative sources of financing for government programs, or scale said programs back. Saudi Arabia, for example, has used an estimated $85 billion of its foreign reserve assets since 2013, the most of any OPEC country. Venezuela, which has made repeated calls for OPEC to prop up the price of oil to shore up its finances, has spent approximately 80 percent of its foreign reserves.

The Fact Pack also examines domestic trends in oil consumption, where low oil prices continue to spur mobility demand. For example, U.S. vehicle miles traveled (VMT) rose more than 70 billion miles year-over-year through August, the largest increase since 1988. Despite this increase, however, plug-in electric vehicle sales have struggled in 2015, largely due to the availability of cheap gasoline. The number of alternative fueling stations, however, has grown, up 48 percent through Q3 2015 versus 2013. Ninety percent of this growth came from the proliferation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.