A oil Prices High Now and Will continue to Rise Trefis 7/5

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A) Oil Prices High Now and Will continue to Rise

Trefis 7/5

(Trefis, What's Driving the Stock, "Oil Prices Rebound on Rising Tensions With Iran; Other Factors," 7/5/12 pg online @ www.trefis.com/stock/cvx/articles/130703/oil-prices-rebound-on-rising-tensions-with-iran-other-factors/2012-07-05//arjun)

Energy prices are posting a comeback as the Brent benchmark reached the $100 level on the 3rd of this week on new concerns that Iran may attempt to disrupt supplies passing through the Gulf of Hormuz. [1] The recovery comes after energy prices posted a sharp drop over the past few weeks on higher output from Saudi Arabia and the weak economic news coming from Europe and other emerging markets. Prices are also being pushed up because of an ongoing strike by Norwegian oil workers that has resulted in lower output from the country. Oil prices are a major determinant of short term earnings of energy majors such as Chevron (NYSE:CVX), as a bulk of their valuation is derived from their upstream oil exploration and production businesses. We have a $110 price estimate for Chevron, which is at in line with its current market price. Click here for our full analysis of Chevron. Uncertainty The volatility displayed by oil prices makes it difficult to accurately forecast the trends in the industry. Our outlook of a moderate increase in the prices over the Trefis forecast period is based on the fact that the demand for oil will continue to increase in the developing countries and constrained supplies and the increasing cost of exploring new resources. However, in the short term, oil is influenced by geopolitical factors and risks as well as other operational issues. Prices are also influenced by OPEC production quotas and supply shocks. Over the past few weeks, higher output from Saudi Arabia and weak economic data from Europe helped pull prices down despite impending EU sanctions on Iran that could lower oil exports from the country. The trend is being reversed by uncertainty over the Iranian response to the sanctions and the Norwegian strike, which has slashed the country’s output by 13%. [1]

B) HSR quickly ends oil dependence – LARGE internal link to prices

USHSRA, US High Speed Rail Association, leading expert on HSR in the US, 2012, “ENERGY SECURITY”, http://www.ushsr.com/benefits/energysecurity.html

A national high speed rail system ends our oil dependency quickly & permanently Building an electrically-powered national high speed rail network across America is the single most powerful thing we can do to get the nation off oil and into a secure, sustainable form of mobility. A national network of high speed trains can be powered by a combination of renewable energy sources including wind, solar, geothermal, and ocean/tidal energy. America's dependency on oil is the most severe in the world, and inevitably pulls us into costly resource wars. It also pushes us into exploring for oil in extreme locations such as 10,000 feet deep below the Gulf of Mexico. We use 25% of the entire world's oil supply, yet we only have 5% of the world's population. We use 8-10 times more oil per person per day than Europeans, and they have faster, easier and better mobility than we do. The extremely high daily oil consumption of Americans is not due to a higher standard of living, but because of the extremely inefficient nature of our national transportation systembased on individual vehicles powered by internal combustion engines, combined with our sprawling community designs that force people into cars for every trip.

C) High oil prices are key to Russia’s economy – outweighs their backup plans

Time 7/5

(7/5/12, "Why Vladimir Putin Needs Higher Oil Prices", Michael Schuman, business.time.com/2012/07/05/why-vladimir-putin-needs-higher-oil-prices//Aspomer)

Falling oil prices make just about everyone happy. For strapped consumers in struggling developed nations, lower oil prices mean a smaller payout at the pump, freeing up room in strained wallets to spend on other things and boosting economic growth. In the developing world, lower oil prices mean reduced inflationary pressures, which will give central bankers more room to stimulate sagging growth. With the global economy still climbing out of the 2008 financial crisis, policymakers around the world can welcome lower oil prices as a rare piece of helpful news. But Vladimir Putin is not one of them. The economy that the Russian President has built not only runs on oil, but runs on oil priced extremely high. Falling oil prices means rising problems for Russia – both for the strength of its economic performance, and possibly, the strength of Putin himself. Despite the fact that Russia has been labeled one of the world’s most promising emerging markets, often mentioned in the same breath as China and India, the Russian economy is actually quite different from the others. While India gains growth benefits from an expanding population, Russia, like much of Europe, is aging; while economists fret over China’s excessive dependence on investment, Russia badly needs more of it. Most of all, Russia is little more than an oil state in disguise. The country is the largest producer of oil in the world (yes, bigger even than Saudi Arabia), and Russia’s dependence on crude has been increasing. About a decade ago, oil and gas accounted for less than half of Russia’s exports; in recent years, that share has risen to two-thirds. Most of all, oil provides more than half of the federal government’s revenues. What’s more, the economic model Putin has designed in Russia relies heavily not just on oil, but high oil prices. Oil lubricates the Russian economy by making possible the increases in government largesse that have fueled Russian consumption. Budget spending reached 23.6% of GDP in the first quarter of 2012, up from 15.2% four years earlier. What that means is Putin requires a higher oil price to meet his spending requirements today than he did just a few years ago. Research firm Capital Economics figures that the government budget balanced at an oil price of $55 a barrel in 2008, but that now it balances at close to $120. Oil prices today have fallen far below that, with Brent near $100 and U.S. crude less than $90. The farther oil prices fall, the more pressure is placed on Putin’s budget, and the harder it is for him to keep spreading oil wealth to the greater population through the government. With a large swath of the populace angered by his re-election to the nation’s presidency in March, and protests erupting on the streets of Moscow, Putin can ill-afford a significant blow to the economy, or his ability to use government resources to firm up his popularity. That’s why Putin hasn’t been scaling back even as oil prices fall. His government is earmarking $40 billion to support the economy, if necessary, over the next two years. He does have financial wiggle room, even with oil prices falling. Moscow has wisely stashed away petrodollars into a rainy day fund it can tap to fill its budget needs. But Putin doesn’t have the flexibility he used to have. The fund has shrunk, from almost 8% of GDP in 2008 to a touch more than 3% today. The package, says Capital Economics, simply highlights the weaknesses of Russia’s economy: This cuts to the heart of a problem we have highlighted before – namely that Russia is now much more dependent on high and rising oil prices than in the past… The fact that the share of ‘permanent’ spending (e.g. on salaries and pensions) has increased…creates additional problems should oil prices drop back (and is also a concern from the perspective of medium-term growth)…The present growth model looks unsustainable unless oil prices remain at or above $120pb.

D) Russian econ instability causes political instability and nuclear war.

Filger 9  [Sheldon Filger, columnist and founder of GlobalEconomicCrisis.com, May 10, 2009, “Russian Economy Faces Disastrous Free Fall Contraction,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sheldon-filger/russian-economy-faces-dis_b_201147.html]

In Russia, historically, economic health and political stability are intertwined to a degree that is rarely encountered in other major industrialized economies. It was the economic stagnation of the former Soviet Union that led to its political downfall. Similarly, Medvedev and Putin, both intimately acquainted with their nation's history, are unquestionably alarmed at the prospect that Russia's economic crisis will endanger the nation's political stability, achieved at great cost after years of chaos following the demise of the Soviet Union. Already, strikes and protests are occurring among rank and file workers facing unemployment or non-payment of their salaries. Recent polling demonstrates that the once supreme popularity ratings of Putin and Medvedev are eroding rapidly. Beyond the political elites are the financial oligarchs, who have been forced to deleverage, even unloading their yachts and executive jets in a desperate attempt to raise cash. Should the Russian economy deteriorate to the point where economic collapse is not out of the question, the impact will go far beyond the obvious accelerant such an outcome would be for the Global Economic Crisis. There is a geopolitical dimension that is even more relevant then the economic context. Despite its economic vulnerabilities and perceived decline from superpower status, Russia remains one of only two nations on earth with a nuclear arsenal of sufficient scope and capability to destroy the world as we know it. For that reason, it is not only President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin who will be lying awake at nights over the prospect that a national economic crisis can transform itself into a virulent and destabilizing social and political upheaval. It just may be possible that U.S. President Barack Obama's national security team has already briefed him about the consequences of a major economic meltdown in Russia for the peace of the world. After all, the most recent national intelligence estimates put out by the U.S. intelligence community have already concluded that the Global Economic Crisis represents the greatest national security threat to the United States, due to its facilitating political instability in the world. During the years Boris Yeltsin ruled Russia, security forces responsible for guarding the nation's nuclear arsenal went without pay for months at a time, leading to fears that desperate personnel would illicitly sell nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations. If the current economic crisis in Russia were to deteriorate much further, how secure would the Russian nuclear arsenal remain? It may be that the financial impact of the Global Economic Crisis is its least dangerous consequence.
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