Fears of potential shortages from the implosion of Venezuela’s production, and the imposition of sanctions on Iran, have catapulted the Brent oil price marker to $80. However, there are great uncertainties about how much oil supplies will be disrupted over the balance of 2018, and what the supply response will be from OPEC and other producers, such as Russia and the United States.
Venezuela’s production fell by 45,000 b/d in April from March, averaging 1.47 million barrels per day. The April decline was equal to the average monthly drop thus far in 2018. Whether the rate of decline will increase, or stay the same, is unknown, but what is known is that oil workers have been leaving the country, unpaid.
The May 20th presidential election has been called a sham. And President Trump is considering sanctioning Venezuela's oil or prohibiting the crude to be sold in the U.S. If he does, Venezuela’s economy is expected to collapse because it is totally dependent on oil revenues. Continue reading "Oil Market Risks For 2018: Upside Then Downside"→
The relative rate of growth in supply v. demand will ultimately determine stock levels and prices. And the three key predicting agencies, the International Energy Agency (IEA), Energy Information Administration (EIA), and OPEC have different views on what is likely to unfold.
OPEC does not often predict is own production, but in December it forecast it would average 33.2 million barrels per day (mmbd) during 2018. That would far exceed its projected “call on OPEC oil,” which is world demand minus non-OPEC production. For 2018 as a whole, it predicts that figure will be 33.1 mmbd.
That demand for OPEC oil is based on a gain in demand of 1.52 mmbd and a rise in no-OPEC production of 1.15 mmbd. In my view demand is likely to be a bit stronger due to world economic growth. However, the non-OPEC supply number is much too low, given the recent rise in U.S. production of 886,000 b/d from August through November. (December production was down a bit for seasonal reasons.) Furthermore, U.S. production has yet to respond to $60/b. The rise in output last autumn was a response to $50/b.
The EIA has the most aggressive non-OPEC production estimate of a gain of 2.5 mmbd, with 2.0 occurring in the U.S. alone, and the balance in Canada and Brazil. The EIA forecast is based on a gain in crude production of 1.5 mmbd and a rise in other liquids of 500,000 b/d. WTI did not exceed $60 in any month since 2015 until January 2018. And the year-over-year gain in March 2018 is estimated to be 1.29 mmbd. And so the industry’s response to $60/b could very well enable the 1.5 mmbd gain. Continue reading "Updated 2018 Crude Oil Outlook"→
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that December U.S. crude production averaged 9.949 million barrels per day (mmbd) in December, off 108,000 b/d from November. The primary cause of the decline was unexpected seasonal factors, which caused production in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) to drop by 131,000 b/d and output in North Dakota to dip by 15,000 b/d. The EIA had expected a 30,000 b/d dip in GOM production. Meanwhile, production in Texas and New Mexico reached new historically-high levels of 3.933 mmbd and 556,000 b/d, rising 36,000 b/d and 26,000 b/d, respectively.
It is worth noting that EIA also revised its November estimate up by 19,000 b/d to 10.057 mmbd. As a result, November 2017 broke the November 1970 production record of 10.044 mmbd.
Even with December’s seasonal drop, the EIA-914 Petroleum Supply Monthly (PSM) figure was still 193,000 b/d higher than the week data reported by EIA in the Weekly Petroleum Supply Report (WPSR), averaged for the month, of 9.756 mmbd. EIA’s model failed to forecast the surge in production which began in August and totaled 846,000 b/d through November. Continue reading "U.S. Crude Production Eased In December"→
The crude oil price started the year off strong, as January posted the highest OPEC Reference Basket price ($66.85) since November 2014, the month in which the Saudis decided to wage an oil price war with American shale oil. But the market gave up its 2018 gain during the first week of January, as the Energy Information Administration (EIA) incorporated the huge November production surge into its short-term outlook and weekly time series data. To top it all off, Baker-Hughes reported the most significant one-week gain in its oil-directed drilling rig count.
Whether the market shifts back to bullish sentiment, or whether the bearish sentiment takes control this year, depends mainly on several key assumptions. The central hypothesis is how fast shale oil production will grow this year, and the second is what OPEC production will be, given the on-going risk to Venezuelan output. Based on U.S. production from August through November, the recent lagged response in drilling rigs, and the high prices experienced October through January; I expect that U.S. production will rise faster than either the DOE or OPEC assume in their forecasts.
EIA’s February Outlook
The EIA released its outlook, revising its U.S. crude production estimates much higher. For the year, it now expects crude production to average 10.59 million barrels per day (mmbd) in 2018, and to exit the year at 11.13 mmbd.
The Energy Report: How is the news that Argentina holds the fourth-largest shale oil reserve in the world affecting business plans for companies that operate there?
Bill Newman: The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report that was released in June 2013 showed that Argentina has a technically recoverable shale oil resource of 27 billion barrels, so it reaffirms the large potential of Argentina. Although the shales plays are in an early stage of appraisal, we don't believe the potential of the shale is the key issue for oil and gas companies investing in Argentina. The political risk is still the chief concern. However, this year the government started to move away from its nationalist policies, so we think the political climate is slowly improving.