With oil prices having staged a recovery during the first quarter of 2019, primarily due to the withholding of oil supplies from Saudi Arabia, President Trump has once again entered the oil market as a threat. Not since OPEC’s founding in 1960 has an American president been as vocal or involved as Trump.
Trump’s intervention in “Round 1,” summarized below, shocked the market, causing a massive price collapse. However, with close scrutiny of the president’s views, both before taking office and over the past year, the market should not have been so surprised.
Saudi Arabia is in a delicate position. On the one hand, it needs oil prices in the $80s to support it's country’s budget, even if lifting costs are $10 or less. It also knows that a “high price” is not the best price longer-term, due to cutbacks in demand and the increasing availability of substitutes, such as U.S. shale.
But possibly most importantly, it depends on the U.S. for its security. And looking forward, it wants U.S. investment to help diversify its economy as the oil age wanes.
Simply put, it cannot afford to ignore this U.S. president, whose first international trip was to KSA. There is an important political and economic link to the U.S. that it did not have even one president ago (Obama). And its arch-nemesis, Iran, at the same time is being severely harassed by President Trump. Continue reading "Round 2: Trump Vs. OPEC"