Crude Observations

That’s a lot of naughty

Hear ye, hear ye. I bring to you, upon this, the 9th day before Christmas, a purloined list of characters both naughty and nice, as well as some ideas for gifts for our favourite characters and influencers from the year just past. And to be fair, there is no shortage, at all, of worthy and unworthy recipients of the Big Guy’s largesse or ironic gifts intended to be lessons for one and all.


It has been an eventful year. Across the world, leaders and followers have done their best to keep us entertained if not firmly on our toes. Where 2021 gifted us the tanker in the Suez, 2022 has walloped us upside the head with the Fed wrecking ball. Once again, one year has seen fit to outdo the prior – I shudder to think what 2023 will bring.


Notable this year were runaway (and not at all transitory) inflation, market gyrations, tripledemics, elections, insurrections, war in Europe, Bitcoin, Trump, sky-high energy prices, coal recovery, natural gas rallies, oil price surges, COP27, Biden, Tesla swoons, Twitter takeovers, still low valuations for energy, FTX, SBF, Dogecoin, Chinese lockdowns, waves, vacations, vaccinations, flights, interest rates increasing at breakneck speed, Brexit, Wexit, Texit, Calexit, Kenney, Smith, PP – you name it, we’ve seen it.


One thing about the end of the year is that there is always a rush of news leading into it and then it goes quiet. And I think I have seen what can only be charitably described as the last sign of the coming apolcalypse or proof that we are living in a Monty Python skit… I give you the Donald J Trump collector NFT – yours for only $99. Like you could hardly lay out a grift so obviously unless you called it “This is my grift and I’m taking your money for myself”.


At any rate, I am sure that many deserving souls will find themselves in possession of Trump in a Superman suit NFT come end of Christmas Day.


Fortunately, this is my last full-on blog of the year, so I am moving in to “rest mode”. You won’t see me again until 2023, when I do my Fearless Forecast self-assessment.


But first, as noted above, I stole a list. And I’m going to share it with you. Because you are all special.


Some new names, some repeat names. And as always, a tongue planted firmly in cheek.



Donald Trump – Naughty


Donald Trump is almost a permanent entry on the naughty list. This is the 923rd year in a row on the naughty list for young Donald. He was on the naughty list before he was born. It was expected that being President might soften the Don and that spending a few years under the thumb of Nancy Pelosi would bring to him a more conciliatory perspective. Nope. Or that losing an election would humble him. Nope. Or that criminal investigations and guilty verdicts would shame him. Nope. Instead we get an announced 2024 presidential run and the ridiculous NFT grift I mentioned above. Oy. DJT’s gift is going to be a visit from the DOJ to talk about… well everything.



Rudy Giuliani – Naughty


I usually avoid looking up the fate of low-level stooges like this, but Rudy  has been so much fun in prior years given his prominence as the grifter in chief in trying to dig up dirt on Joe and then Hunter Biden, association with various and sundry international crooks and, bizarre press conferences. His unhinged lunacy is overshadowed only by his colossal incompetence, Rudy’s place on this list is well-earned and has now become permanent. He now finds himself censured and unable to practice “law”. Graft, corruption, makeup… Rudy’s gift is a stockboy job at a landscaping business.



Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak – Naughty


Boris comes by this honestly. He’s just a bad person and a buffoon. Boris maintains his place on this list for the shambolic and economy wrecking Brexit, soaring energy prices and the party mutiny that resulted in Liz Truss (for a nano-second) and now Rishi Sunak becoming Prime Minister of what was once the envy of the world. Gifts? Everyone gets a head of lettuce.



Greta Thunberg, Sophia Kianni – Nice. Sorry


No. Not sorry. I like Greta (jury is out on Sophia). I don’t agree with everything she says or stands for. And she wasn’t much of a newsmaker this year except for when she skipped the COP27 climate change conference and called everyone a bunch of hypocrites. And then the baton has been transferred to the fashionable Sofia, who appears to be the new spokesperson. I like how easily they both trigger and make the old white guy cohort squirm and bleat and run around in circles in cataclysmic self-righteousness.


Anyway, Greta, Sophia – I think there is a depth to the issues that they miss, but seriously folks, is it really that terrifying to have a young person so engaged in the major issues of the day? Is climate change a problem? Yes. Is it man-made? Kinda! Are politicians hypocritical? Are you new here? Should fossil fuel companies panic? No! Carbon-based energy will be required for decades. Should we listen to them? Absolutely.


Our kids are being raised to be activists. Social media connects them. They are less than a decade away from kicking us to the curb. Pay attention. The gift to these two polar opposite activists? People listening and engaging. And an apology on behalf of old white guys everywhere. We aren’t all that thin skinned and frightened. I can defend my industry, hear your words and take action.


Justin Trudeau – Naughty.


There was a lot of debate on this one. Where does he fit? Great socks, fabulous selfies, but… a giant mess on both the left and the right when it comes to policy implementation, pipelines under construction, an energy sector wondering which way is up with carbon taxes and renewables, relations with China, India and the US completely off the rails and an economy that is seriously underperforming its developed world peers.


Now with the economy and real estate values heading down a mine shaft, there is absolutely NO BUSINESS CASE for Trudeau to be anywhere near the nice list. This year’s gift? Free tuition to any one of the dozens of excellent business schools across the country.


Joe Biden – Nice


How can you not put Joe on the nice list? He’s Grandpa Joe! Joe is the epitome of the nice list. Everyone’s go-to for empathy, hugs and a socially-distanced shoulder to cry on. He slew the dragon against all odds and, crises notwithstanding, is achieving a historic amount of legislative success (yes, it can be called a success even if you don’t like the policy). He delivered historic mid-term electoral success against all precedent, and Herschel Walker! He is boring. He is quiet. He rocks his aviators and drives a vintage Corvette. Sure, he drained the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to secure the mid terms, but who among us wouldn’t?. Joe’s gift? A year of quiet, a Trump NFT and some good old-fashioned Canadian oil to help keep those gas prices low.


Jason Kenney – Naughty. If you can find him.


“Where did it go?” said my youngest daughter at age 3 in a quiet terrified voice whilst taking a bath and watching a small toy go shooting down the drain. I feel much the same fate may have befallen our once-upon a time premier who went from ever-present thorn in everyone’s paw to “where’s Waldo, Alberta premier edition” in record time. Like he had barely hung up the phone after personally calling everyone in Ontario to exhort them to move to Alberta before he packed up his Wonston Churchill portraits from his legislative office, tossed the keys to the parliamentary cat, flipped everyone the double bird and beat it out of dodge.


Being so hard to find, it’s maybe not fair to have him on the naughty list, and I guess it’s punishment enough that he has to live with lasting legacy being delivering unto us Danielle Smith, but everyone is on the list.


Alberta has changed, fundamentally, since the UCP won election. Jason Kenney has contributed to that. I guess we will see how much of that was in a good way.


Gifts for Jason this year includes time to reassess and an evergreen job offer from the hated CBC to become a panelist on a political talk show with long lost parliamentary foil, Thomas Mulcair.



Pierre Poilievre and the Conservative Party of Canada – Naughty


I don’t know what to make of PP. He is the parliamentary manifestation of fingernails on a chalkboard. Channelling the sneering condescension that I had thought only achievable by climate zealots, he pontificates and gesticulates and orates at a near non-stop breakneck pace about “inflation” and “money printing” in such a bizarre and misinformed fashion that it boggles the mind Yet here we are – he won an overwhelming victory in the leadership race, so he’s the guy. Except that in the last few months, he’s pulled a Kenney. Where did he go? It’s so quiet! Did he forget his YouTube password?


The CPC has become a mockery of itself and is adrift, the new leader is supposed to change that yet he didn’t even campaign in a recent byelection. Hey CPC, I see a new leader but where is the leadership? Step. Up. Take control of your party. Present a credible and stable alternative to the Liberal money puking machine and politics of gesture. Accountability and jobs. The economy. That should be your singular mantra. You aren’t going to flank the Liberals on social issues or “Freedom” or anything like that. Get it together. Rein in the clown-show.


Gift for PP is simple: A plan.



Shale Oil – Naughty and Nice


Wait. What? How can shale be on both lists? Well, shale, as a general rule, has been on the naughty list since 2014 when runaway production growth upended the energy market and catalyzed a seven year and counting disaster. In particular, the Permian has been a blackhole for capital, sucking up investment that might otherwise have gone elsewhere (Oh Canada!) all in the relentless pursuit of production growth at all costs, right here, right now. But the light tight oil moment, such as it was, has come to an end. Which is nice. Look, production and investment in US light tight oil plays is going to continue, but the go-go days are (for now) in the rear-view mirror. Even if Joe Biden is begging them to drill more. So, what about American energy independence? Well it seems no one cares anymore. Now it’s all capital discipline, production maintenance and gradual reinflation – which is good! Anyway, shale’s gift? A gusher of cash. Oh, almost forgot – a healthy dose of “I told you so” to the “end of fossil fuels” crew.


Canadian E&P’s – Nice


It has been a tough go for the Canadian oilpatch, there is no way to sugar coat that. The pandemic started with layoffs and the current market isn’t exactly a job-creating machine, notwithstanding prices. That said, we have managed to achieve some much-needed consolidation to achieve market scale, a renewed “Canadianization” of our little patch of oil (second largest in the world, ahem) and some long overdue attention from the markets who have suddenly come to the realization that Canadian oil and gas companies, in particular oil sands companies and, to a lesser extent, natural gas players are cash flow vomiting machines. Gift – TMX, Coastal Gas Link, bought deals, institutional interest and elevated prices – time to load up on Canadian oil and gas.


Oil and Gas Investors – Nice


After suffering through what is arguably the worst seven years any investor anywhere has ever seen, the energy industry has been a bright light since the election of Joe Biden. Go figure. While I am sure most investors have simply ridden their growth stocks off a cliff and avoided any inflation correlated commodities, for the ones who decided they were masochistic enough to stick with it, they are now participating in what may be the greatest value play in history. Gift? Positive annual returns and cash – very quiet doubles and triples.



Saudi Arabia and OPEC/OPEC++++++ – Nice


Despite annoying Joe Biden by not swamping the world with oil to facilitate his mid term win, Saudi Arabia has since done a fine job this year being respectful of the tenuous and uncertain status of the energy market and the need for stability in the face of war, inflation, potential recession, China lockdowns and energy transition headfakes like fusion and mega-trillion dollar solar investments that never materialize. Secular decline disguised as production and quota cuts have helped to stabilize prices and draw down inventories. And they have kept the greater OPC and OPEC + crew in line and the resulting stability has allowed the energy sector to survive and thrive. An appropriate gift in return for keeping prices steady? How about the highest oil and gas receipts to Aramco… ever. Does anyone actually ever expect the Saudis to let prices collapse again?



Trans Mountain Expansion – Nice


Think of all that the TMX had to go through in its formative years. File an application for a project, spend a billion dollars, get denied for political reasons, spend another billion, become a political football, get denigrated, demonized, misrepresented and otherwise vilified for years and still be at the table with a smile on your face, ready to spend capital to create jobs, opportunity and prosperity for the biggest set of ingrates that exist. And that was before the Federal Government bought it. But buy it they did and the project is full speed ahead. That’s right, the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Memorial Pipeline is underway, not even close to on budget and on a schedule. It is expected that we could see (hear? Smell?) oil on this project in 2024. Gift? A safe operating environment, higher prices and higher tolls. And grudging acknowledgment of why this stuff is important.


LNG – Nice


So this is the year that the great LNG build out started to bear fruit. Once Vlad (the Impaler) Putin invaded Ukraine it ws all bets off for an already undersupplied European gas market. Enter LNG. Replacement for Russian gas. Replacement for domestic coal. Baseload for intermittent, renewable power. The unperpinning of a modern industrial economy. Colled to minus a bajillion and shipped around the world, LNG has been a game -changer for countries producing it and those importing it. At least this with the foresight and the b*lls to get on with it. Gift: A universal business case that can be shared near and far, also in Ottawa.


Vladimir Putin – Naughty


Where to start. Vlad (the Impaler) Putin spent 2022 mired in a pointless land war in Ukraine that he is losing, badly. Casualties are approaching 100,000 which is almost double what the Americans suffered in Vietnam. It is amazing to me that there isn’t more blowback on this in Russia. Look, the naughty list is all about redemption – every year is a fresh start, well except for Trump. But there is no redeeming Putin. Trump is an egomaniacal clown. Putin is a modern day Hitler. So, for Christmas this year Vlad will get what he deserves.


People in Calgary and the Energy Sector in Western Canada in general – Nice


It’s been a long seven years. We can’t give you another boom, but I think it’s fair to say that the pieces are in place for a recovery. Seriously, cautious optimism folks! Things are looking up!


Danielle Smith – Naughty


Alberta’s new premier is having a bit of a rocky start. If it isn’t apologizing for the latest slip of the tongue, it’s having to defend a bunch of cockamamie schemes or ideas that are the flavour of the day with her most virulent and rabid base. Oh, I know there are lots of people who think the sovereignty act shtick is a genius plan that will give Alberta everything it wants. I’m just not one of them. I am of the firm belief that it is an economy impacting sideshow that gets us nothing, except eye rolls and mockery. Much like the Republicans in the US who plan to spend the next two years investigating Hunter Biden’s laptop, this is a distraction from the very real issues that are confronting Alberta including health care, education, cost of living, the opioid crisis, energy, economic diversification.


You know what I don’t talk about when I have coffee and chat with clients and friends? An Alberta Pension Plan. A Provincial Police force. How hard done by Alberta is by the Trudeau Liberals. Sovereignty. These just aren’t priorities.


It feels like Danielle Smith is running her government like she ran her talk show – all controversy all the time and the only people who are given airtime are the kooks because they drive ratings.


Gift for Danielle? A copy of the constitution. A chance to spend some time with moderate voices.


Sam Bankman Fried and the whole crypto ecosystem – Naughty


With the implosion of FTX and the unfolding fraudulent use of client assets to finance a creepy Bahamian love nest it appears the wheels are coming off the crypto grift party and the regulators are finally paying attention. With hundreds of billions of dollars completely vapourized in the space of 12 months, it’s about time.


Gift? Orange jumpsuits all around.


Elon Musk – Naughty


That’s it. Can’t say anymore or he will suspend my account. Gift. A 2 hour session with Justin Trudeau to develop a business case for Twitter.


Me – Nice


This is obvious. Gift? Nothing. You are my gift! (awww – barf…)


That’s it folks. I hope I didn’t miss anything!


As many of you know, this is my last blog of the year, when you next hear from me, I will be reviewing my disastrous forecasts from last year before rolling the dice on my 2023 Fearless Forecast (hint – Oil! Gas! Buy now!).


I do of course reserve the right to send out a note on the Night Before Christmas – it’s kinda my thing.


But if I don’t or you don’t see it…


Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from us to you. Stay safe, stay warm, be kind.

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