Oil Price Surge May Become OPEC's Worst Enemy

Robert Boslego - INO.com Contributor - Energies


Crude prices bottomed in the current price cycle during the third week of June. Subsequently, there has been a surge to the highest crude prices in two years. My theory is that the market has priced-in a geopolitical risk premium given the de-certification of the Iran nuclear deal by President Trump as signaled by the White House on October 5th.

Another factor has emerged. It has become increasingly clear that the DOE’s estimates of weekly U.S. crude production have overestimated the actual monthly figures, as reported two months in arrears. The errors since April have been large. Some have concluded that American shale oil production is not as big of a countermeasure to rising oil prices as had been believed.
Continue reading "Oil Price Surge May Become OPEC's Worst Enemy"

Oil Prices Break-Out of Trading Range

Robert Boslego - INO.com Contributor - Energies


Oil futures prices have broken above the trading range where they have been since February when the market was expecting supply and demand would balance quickly as a result of the OPEC/non-OPEC deals. But those hopes were dashed because the global demand was in a seasonal decline, and inventories remained stubbornly high.

Prices managed to break higher due to a combination of circumstances:

U.S. and Global Inventories

Hurricane Harvey in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GOM) disrupted refinery operations, causing product stocks to draw rapidly. It was followed by Hurricane Nate, which disrupted crude oil production in the GOM.

In addition, U.S. crude exports reached record levels recently, averaging 1.744 million barrels per day (mmbd) over the past four weeks, a gain of 293 % from the same weeks a year ago. Petroleum product exports have also been strong, averaging 5.125 mmbd in the same period, up 23% v. a year ago.

Together, these trends have reduced U.S. inventories by 40 million barrels since the week ending September 8th. Global OECD stocks have dropped about 51 million barrels from May through September, though this is largely due to normal seasonal trends. Continue reading "Oil Prices Break-Out of Trading Range"

OPEC's Fake Results and Upcoming Quagmire

Robert Boslego - INO.com Contributor - Energies


OPEC’s market monitoring committee reported that OPEC reached “120% compliance” with the production adjustments. It also reported that commercial OECD stocks had been reduced by 178 million barrels “since the beginning of the year.”

In reality, OPEC exceeded its collective production limit by about 850,000 b/d in September. It reported production at 32.748 million barrels per day, but that level must be adjusted to be comparable to the 32.5 million production ceiling it set last November.

To get a comparable figure, two adjustments must be made. Production from Indonesia must be added (740,000 b/d) because its output was included in the ceiling, notwithstanding it was dropping out. And production from Equatorial Guinea (140,000 b/d) must be deducted because it was not an OPEC member and its output was not included. Continue reading "OPEC's Fake Results and Upcoming Quagmire"

What Oil Price Band Do The Saudis Want?

Robert Boslego - INO.com Contributor - Energies


Back in December, I deduced that the Saudis had budgeted a little less than $53 for oil in 2017. Their budget was based on their belief that they didn't expect to see any U.S. shale oil production response in 2017. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid A. Al-Falih said it in answer to a question in the press conference after the OPEC/non-OPEC meeting (see video starting at 51:35). He backed-up his belief basing it on the time lag of when oil prices had peaked in 2014 and when production peaked in 2015.

After the deals went into effect on January 1st, oil prices remained above $50 per barrel. According to the EIA’s weekly production data, U.S. crude production rose by 318,000 b/d between the last week of December and the week ending March 3rd, just before Al-Fahil’s speech in Houston during on March 7th.

U.S. Crude Production

He said he is optimistic about the global oil market in the weeks and months ahead, but "I caution that my optimism should not tip investors into 'irrational exuberance' or wishful thinking that OPEC or the Kingdom will underwrite the investments of others at our own expense." Continue reading "What Oil Price Band Do The Saudis Want?"

Oil Market Outlook Deteriorating for OPEC

Robert Boslego - INO.com Contributor - Energies


Arrogant OPEC members thought they could beat American shale oil producers into submission in a market share battle. But instead, they caught a tiger by the tail, and now the tiger is turning on them.

OPEC producers were bragging back in late 2014 that they had much lower costs of production than American shale oil producers and could easily win back market share by undercutting their prices. But they failed to take into account that they needed higher prices than shale oil producers because oil revenues largely support their national budgets.

Low oil prices caused huge national budget deficits in OPEC countries. They did hurt the smaller, leveraged shale producers; however, they were able to take advantage of the bankruptcy laws in the U.S., not a real option for the producing countries. Their best response is to devalue their currencies, but there are a host of economic issues associated with exercising that option.

Fresh data were reported by OPEC and the U.S. Energy Department recently. The data imply that global oil stocks will rise, instead of decline in 2017, even with the OPEC-non-OPEC production cutbacks. Continue reading "Oil Market Outlook Deteriorating for OPEC"