Oil Market Readies For Iran Sanction Waivers, Round 2

Crude oil production in Iran had reached 3.84 million barrels per day (mmbd) in the period following the lifting of sanctions by the Obama Administration. But following President Trump’s announcement in May 2018 that the U.S. would re-impose sanctions in November, demand for Iranian crude dropped to 3.7 mmbd by October. In November, the Trump Administration allowed limited waivers to the sanctions to eight countries, but Iranian production dropped by another 700,000 b/d by March.

The waivers were designed to terminate on May 2nd, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced April 22nd that the waivers would not be extended. "This decision is intended to bring Iran's oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue," the White House said in a statement.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Iran’s exports of crude and condensates are running about 1.1 mmbd in April. President Trump tweeted Saudi Arabia and others in OPEC had assured him that they would make up the impact of any decline in Iran’s exports:

Iran

In the months leading up to last November, KSA had increased its output to 11.1 mmbd, at the request of the White House, to ensure that oil supplies would be adequate once the Iranian sanctions took effect in November. But Trump’s granting of the waivers immediately created an oversupply in the global oil market, and oil prices collapsed as a result. Continue reading "Oil Market Readies For Iran Sanction Waivers, Round 2"

OPEC's Plan To Institutionalize OPEC+ Has Failed

For over a year, OPEC General Secretary Mohammed Barkindo has been trying to "institutionalize" the OPEC+ arrangement that includes Russia. At the Oil and Money conference in October 2017 in London, Barkindo told reporters. "This platform of 24 countries, now hopefully growing, should be institutionalized."

OPEC+
Source: OPEC

In September, he said, "What we are working on now is to make it [cooperation] more permanent and institutionalize the framework. Our target is to have a longer cooperation framework in place by December when we reconvene in Vienna [for the next OPEC meeting]."

In an interview with TASS on October 22nd, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih explained his view for the long-term agreement he wanted in December: Continue reading "OPEC's Plan To Institutionalize OPEC+ Has Failed"

Saudi Crown Prince Claims Lost Iranian Barrels Will Be Offset

Back in 1973, Saudi Arabia took a very aggressive move against the U.S. by starting the Arab oil embargo:

Saudi Crown Prince

But the Trump Administration has taken a strong position against Iran, Saudi Arabia’s nemesis. KSA also depends on the U.S. for its protection as well as its economic development. The current relationship between Washington and Riyadh could not be better:

"I love working with him (Trump)." - Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, October 5, 2018

Saudi Crown Prince
Photo Courtesy Of AFP)

Prior to announcing the U.S. pull-out of the Iranian nuclear deal in May, the White House had secured assurances from producers, namely Saudi Arabia, that any disruptions in Iran’s exports would be offset by higher production by countries with spare capacity, according to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. The Saudi energy minister confirmed it. Continue reading "Saudi Crown Prince Claims Lost Iranian Barrels Will Be Offset"

Oil Price Spike Will Most Likely Be Averted

Uncertainties for the balance of 2018 imply that stocks could fall sharply or be adequate. As a result, prices may spike or drop into the $50s, depending on what unfolds.

President Trump has sway over Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf producers. He can also fine-tune the implementation of sanctions on Iran and waivers to them. I’m expecting he will do whatever he has to, to avert a price spike going into the November mid-term elections.

July Production Changes

OPEC estimated in its August Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) that its crude production in July averaged 32.323 million barrels per day (mmbd). That was about 40,000 b/d higher than in June. The “compliance” level with the 2016 deal dropped to 97%, the first time less than 100% in nearly a year.

Saudi Arabia’s production was reduced by about 52,000 b/d, but that was more than offset by gains of 79,000 b/d in Kuwait and 69,000 b/d in the UAE.

Iran’s production fell by 56,000 b/d while Venezuela’s output dropped 48,000 b/d. Libya’s output also dropped by 57,000 b/d. Continue reading "Oil Price Spike Will Most Likely Be Averted"

Hedging Energy Sector Oil Price Risk

Volatility in oil prices makes investing in the energy sector a risky proposition. The collapse in oil prices following the OPEC meeting in November 2014, at which Saudi Arabia announced its intent to flood the market to put American shale oil producers out-of-business, resulted in a rout in energy equities prices.

The Energy Select SPDR ETF (XLE) fell by 37 percent from November 26, 2014, to January 20, 2016. For many investors, the drop had become too large to sustain, and they closed their positions, locking-in a substantial loss.

XLE has recovered its loss, and as of July 27th, the price was nearly identical to its value on November 26th, 2014. But the recovery in oil prices, due to heightened geopolitical risks, also makes them vulnerable to another downward correction.

Citicorp, for example, issued a forecast proclaiming that “the bull argument is based on a faulty analysis,” and that oil prices “will fall back into a band between US$45 and US$65 in just over a year.”This raises the question of whether investing in the energy sector represents an attractive risk-reward opportunity. Continue reading "Hedging Energy Sector Oil Price Risk"