Commodities: Silver Skyrockets Post-Brexit, Energy is Back!
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Commodities: Silver Skyrockets Post-Brexit, Energy is Back!

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Commodities: Silver Skyrockets Post-Brexit, Energy is Back!

Commodities: Silver Skyrockets Post-Brexit, Energy is Back!

Commodities are back!

While commodity performance in Q1 was promising, it was mainly precious metals and zinc that buoyed everything else. Energy and base metals were relatively flat on the quarter, with uranium and natural gas having the biggest declines.

However, the game changed considerably in Q2. We now live in a post-Brexit world, where the real risk of further contagion in Europe is prompting investors to seek insurance policies. Silver is hovering near the $20 mark, which makes it the best performing commodity of the first half of 2016 with a 43.6% return.

Best performing commodities 2016

But it’s not just precious metals that are back in vogue.

Energy had an impressive comeback in Q2, with natural gas and oil being the best performing commodities of the quarter. Base metals were up, and even the TSX Venture, a Canadian index tracking many of the world’s junior mining and energy stocks, was the best performing benchmark. This is meaningful, because it wasn’t long ago that the TSX Venture was in a mind-boggling 1,000+ day bear market.

Q2 Commodities by Subsector

Precious Metals
Gold, silver, and platinum all received a significant boost post-Brexit. In the week following the June 23 referendum, they were up 6.8%, 14.3%, and 9.7% respectively. Billionaire voices envisioning a potential bull market for precious metals include Stanley Druckenmiller, George Soros, and Ray Dalio.

Base Metals
Base metals, which did not receive a lot of fanfare in 2015, may have finally stopped the bleeding. Copper was virtually flat in Q1, while gaining 3.9% in Q2. Meanwhile, nickel and zinc both had double-digit quarters with 13.9% and 13.1% returns respectively. Zinc is up an impressive 35.7% YTD.

Energy
The energy sector came back with a vengeance. Brent and WTI had their best quarters in years with 35.1% and 37.3% increases. Natural gas was the top performing commodity in Q2, jumping up 53.3% to just short of $3/MMbtu because of unanticipated summer demand. On the other side of the energy spectrum, coal had another poor quarter, dropping -9.3% in price. (In a recent set of charts, we covered the decline in coal in depth.)

Food
The world’s agricultural commodities had a mixed bag for performance. Wheat was the worst performer, down -9.4% on the quarter. Corn was relatively flat, and soybeans jumped up 28.6%.

Chart presented by: Sierra Metals

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Energy

Visualizing the Scale of Global Fossil Fuel Production

How much oil, coal, and natural gas do we extract each year? See the scale of annual fossil fuel production in perspective.

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The Scale of Global Fossil Fuel Production

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

Fossil fuels have been our predominant source of energy for over a century, and the world still extracts and consumes a colossal amount of coal, oil, and gas every year.

This infographic visualizes the volume of global fossil fuel production in 2021 using data from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy.

The Facts on Fossil Fuels

In 2021, the world produced around 8 billion tonnes of coal, 4 billion tonnes of oil, and over 4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.

Most of the coal is used to generate electricity for our homes and offices and has a key role in steel production. Similarly, natural gas is a large source of electricity and heat for industries and buildings. Oil is primarily used by the transportation sector, in addition to petrochemical manufacturing, heating, and other end uses.

Here’s a full breakdown of coal, oil, and gas production by country in 2021.

Coal Production

If all the coal produced in 2021 were arranged in a cube, it would measure 2,141 meters (2.1km) on each side—more than 2.5 times the height of the world’s tallest building.

China produced 50% or more than four billion tonnes of the world’s coal in 2021. It’s also the largest consumer of coal, accounting for 54% of coal consumption in 2021.

Rank Country2021 Coal Production
(million tonnes)
% of Total
#1🇨🇳 China 4,126.050%
#2🇮🇳 India 811.310%
#3🇮🇩 Indonesia 614.08%
#4🇺🇸 U.S. 524.46%
#5🇦🇺 Australia 478.66%
#6🇷🇺 Russia 433.75%
#7🇿🇦 South Africa 234.53%
#8🇩🇪 Germany 126.02%
#9🇰🇿 Kazakhstan 115.71%
#10🇵🇱 Poland 107.61%
🌍 Other 600.97%
Total8,172.6100%

India is both the second largest producer and consumer of coal. Meanwhile, Indonesia is the world’s largest coal exporter, followed by Australia.

In the West, U.S. coal production was down 47% as compared to 2011 levels, and the descent is likely to continue with the clean energy transition.

Oil Production

In 2021, the United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia were the three largest crude oil producers, respectively.

Rank Country2021 Oil Production
(million tonnes)
% of Total
#1🇺🇸 U.S. 711.117%
#2🇷🇺 Russia 536.413%
#3🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia 515.012%
#4🇨🇦 Canada 267.16%
#5🇮🇶 Iraq 200.85%
#6🇨🇳 China 198.95%
#7🇮🇷 Iran 167.74%
#8🇦🇪 UAE 164.44%
#9 🇧🇷 Brazil156.84%
#10🇰🇼 Kuwait 131.13%
🌍 Other 1172.028%
Total4221.4100%

OPEC countries, including Saudi Arabia, made up the largest share of production at 35% or 1.5 billion tonnes of oil.

U.S. oil production has seen significant growth since 2010. In 2021, the U.S. extracted 711 million tonnes of oil, more than double the 333 million tonnes produced in 2010.

Natural Gas Production

The world produced 4,036 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2021. The above graphic converts that into an equivalent of seven billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to visualize it on the same scale as oil and gas.

Here are the top 10 producers of natural gas in 2021:

Rank Country2021 Natural Gas Production
(billion m3)
% of Total
#1🇺🇸 U.S. 934.223%
#2🇷🇺 Russia 701.717%
#3🇮🇷 Iran 256.76%
#4🇨🇳 China 209.25%
#5🇶🇦 Qatar 177.04%
#6🇨🇦 Canada 172.34%
#7🇦🇺 Australia 147.24%
#8🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia 117.33%
#9🇳🇴 Norway 114.33%
#10🇩🇿 Algeria 100.82%
🌍 Other 1106.327%
Total4,036.9100%

The U.S. was the largest producer, with Texas and Pennsylvania accounting for 47% of its gas production. The U.S. electric power and industrial sectors account for around one-third of domestic natural gas consumption.

Russia, the next-largest producer, was the biggest exporter of gas in 2021. It exported an estimated 210 billion cubic meters of natural gas via pipelines to Europe and China. Around 80% of Russian natural gas comes from operations in the Arctic region.

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