OPEC Appeases Russia To Stick With Deals

Robert Boslego - INO.com Contributor - Energies


The 173rd OPEC Meeting and 3rd non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting concluded with an agreement to extend the production cuts all the way through 2018. Saudi minister Khalid Al-Falih also implied that production in 2018 by Nigeria and Libya would not increase, based on information from those countries. In 2017, large increases by the pair undermined cuts made by others.

The official OPEC press release included two caveats, though not unusual but were obviously a concession to Russia, that the deals could be modified, depending on market conditions:

"In view of the uncertainties associated mainly with supply and, to some extent, demand growth it is intended that in June 2018, the opportunity of further adjustment actions will be considered based on prevailing market conditions and the progress achieved towards re-balancing of the oil market at that time."

"To support the extension of the mandate of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) composed of Algeria, Kuwait, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and two participating non-OPEC countries of the Russian Federation and Oman, chaired by Saudi Arabia, co-chaired by the Russian Federation, and assisted by the Joint Technical Committee at the OPEC Secretariat, to closely review the status of and conformity with the Declaration of Cooperation and report to the OPEC – non OPEC Conference."

Saudi minister Khalid Al-Falih

Initially, at the meeting a year ago, the oil ministers predicted that the glut would disappear within six months. Then at the May meeting, the Saudi minister predicted that the extension would "do the trick" of draining the glut "within six months."
Continue reading "OPEC Appeases Russia To Stick With Deals"

Oil Market Waiting For A Catalyst

Robert Boslego - INO.com Contributor - Energies


On November 15th, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said, “We need to recognize that by the end of March we’re not going to be at the level we want to be which is the five-year average, that means an extension of some sort.”

He went on to say that Saudi Arabia favors making an extension decision at the OPEC meeting at the end of this month. “My preference is to give clarity to the market and announce on November 30 what we’re going to do.”

At the conclusion of the last OPEC meeting in May, the Saudi minister had stated that the current production quotas will “do the trick” of rebalancing stocks to normal levels within six months. Earlier this month, the DOE projected that global OECD stocks at end-2017 would be right where they were at end-2016. And it projected that 2018 inventories will be higher, not lower.

Russia’s continued participation seems to be a linchpin, and the Russian energy minister, Alexander Novak, reportedly met with Russian oil producers about their view of extending the production deal. According to TASS, everyone but Gazprom Neft agreed to a six-month extension, not the nine-month extension favored by Mr. Al-Falih. Gazprom Neft expects to launch new projects in 2018. Continue reading "Oil Market Waiting For A Catalyst"

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"

Hurricanes Delivered A One-Two Punch To OPEC

Robert Boslego - INO.com Contributor - Energies


OPEC’s grand plan to cut production to drain blotted global oil inventories was a miserable failure in the first half of 2017. Total OECD stocks actually rose by about 75 million barrels by end-June from when the deal went into effect beginning in January.

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General
HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General (c), with Mr. Nader Sultan, Director of the Oxford Energy Seminar (r), and Professor Roger Ainsworth, Master of St Catherine's College. Source: OPEC

But seasonal oil demand shifted into high gear in July and August. Inventories in the U.S., the largest oil consumer and the most data-transparent country in the world, dropped about 35 million barrels, given record-high demand for crude at U.S. refineries and relatively strong mid-summer product consumption.

This brief hiatus to OPEC’s failure to drain stocks in the first half of 2017 was already set to reverse when refineries performed their fall maintenance, reducing crude demand, and the summer driving season came to a close. But the two hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, accelerated the demand-destruction process.

About 3.2 million barrels a day (mmbd) of refinery throughputs were reduced by the Gulf hurricane, while petroleum product demand dropped 1.5 mmbd from the prior week. The impact of Irma on Florida and elsewhere in the Southeast is still uncertain and ongoing. Goldman Sachs has estimated that U.S. petroleum product demand may be nearly 900,000 b/d lower in September, and 300,000 b/d lower in October, as a result of the storms. Crude demand may average another million barrels per day lower due to problems reported at some refineries. Continue reading "Hurricanes Delivered A One-Two Punch To OPEC"

Why OPEC's Cut-Extension Is Another Blunder

Robert Boslego - INO.com Contributor - Energies


OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, blundered when it decided to engage in a battle for market share in November 2014. It assumed it could drive American shale oil companies bankrupt and then pick up their market share.

But this strategy was destined to fail. For one thing, they didn’t take into account that American shale oil companies had hedged their future production. That protected the companies from experiencing the impact of lower prices to the extent that they had hedged.

Second, they didn’t take into account the American bankruptcy system. Companies can continue as “zombies” surviving by cutting costs to the bone, and selling assets to other companies at a discount to keep afloat. The buyers then have a lower “cost basis.”

Third, they didn’t take into account their own vulnerabilities. Sure, their national oil companies have low production costs but their oil revenues largely support the national budgets. They need high oil prices to balance their budgets, effectively making them high-cost producers (e.g., KSA about $65/b in 2017). Continue reading "Why OPEC's Cut-Extension Is Another Blunder"