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The Bullish And Bearish Case For Oil

The Bullish And Bearish Case For Oil

Oil tanker

Oil prices could rise due to the “perfect storm of stagnant supply, geopolitical risk, and a harsh winter,” according to an April 12 note from Barclays.

Geopolitical events specifically could help keep Brent above $70 through April and May, which comes on the back of a substantial decline in oil inventories.

The investment bank significantly tightened its forecast for Venezuelan production, lowering it to 1.1-1.2 million barrels per day (mb/d), down sharply from its previous forecast of 1.4 mb/d. That helped guide the bank’s upward revision for its price forecast for both WTI and Brent in 2018 and 2019, a boost of $3 per barrel.

The flip side is that the explosive growth of U.S. shale keeps the market well supplied, and ultimately forces a downward price correction in the second half of the year, Barclays says. In fact, the investment bank said there are several factors that could conspire to kill off the recent rally. One of the looming supply risks is the potential confrontation between the U.S. and Iran. The re-implementation of sanctions threatens to cut off some 400,000 to 500,000 bpd of Iranian supply.

But Barclays says these concerns are “misguided,” with the risk overblown. “Yes, it should kill the prospects for medium-term oil investment, and yes it could destabilize the region further, but we struggle to accept a narrative that the market had been expecting big gains in Iranian output over the next several years anyway.” Moreover, the ongoing losses from Venezuela are also broadly accepted by most analysts. “Therefore, it is worth suggesting that in both of these countries, a dire scenario may already be priced in,” Barclays wrote.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Has The World Started To Kick Its Oil Addiction?

Has The World Started To Kick Its Oil Addiction?

Offshore rig

Until a decade ago, most of the world was a captive customer of oil—consumers would pay any price for gasoline and oil demand was soaring regardless of the surging oil prices.

But recently, many countries around the world have started to show more sensitivity to oil prices—oil demand grows as their economies grow, but oil demand is also more susceptible to oil price swings, with the oil price-consumption correlation behaving more like an everyday product, according to data by Washington-based ClearView Energy Partners and research by Bloomberg Gadfly columnist Liam Denning.

Although it’s at least a decade or more too early to call the end of the world’s oil addiction, the research and data suggest that in a growing number of large oil-consuming economies oil demand now correlates negatively with oil prices. In other words, consumption drops when prices rise and vice versa—a common economic concept applicable to almost every other product on the market.

With oil, this has not always been the case.

ClearView Energy and Denning analyzed data for three 10-year periods ending in 2006, 2011, and 2016, respectively.

During the first 10-year period until 2006, countries comprising four-fifths of oil demand, including the United States, India, China, and Russia, showed a positive correlation between oil demand and their gross domestic product (GDP) and between demand and oil prices. In the decade before the financial crisis in 2007-2008, oil demand soared almost everywhere in the world, despite the fact that oil prices were also rallying. This was the period of Chinese industrialization and construction boom which gobbled up oil at any price. In most of the world, the picture was the same—oil demand rose together with rising economies and with rising oil prices, suggesting that those countries were captive customers of oil.

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The Struggle Continues For Bankrupt Shale Drillers

The Struggle Continues For Bankrupt Shale Drillers

Oil rig

Remember the wave of bankruptcies that hit shale E&Ps and oilfield services providers in the shale patch between 2015 and 2017? Over those two years, more than 120 oil and gas producers filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States, figures from Haynes & Boone showed last year.

Since then, it seems that life has not been much different for many of these post-bankruptcy survivors.

Bloomberg’s Alex Nissbaum, in a recent story on the fate of those less fortunate drillers, noted SandRidge Energy as “the poster boy” for post-bankruptcy oil and gas companies that are still struggling to get back on their feet but may never succeed.

SandRidge exited bankruptcy last year but has found it difficult to return to growth mode for a number of reasons that are indicative of the challenges that remain in the U.S. shale oil and gas industry.

The most obvious one is that not all shale is created equal, whatever the industry tells us about lowering production costs and improving operational efficiencies.

Let’s forget this mantra for a moment. Everyone wants in on the Permian boom but not everybody wants in on certain parts of Oklahoma, for instance.

As one analyst told Nissbaum about the post-bankruptcy survivors, “The bottom line is a lot of these companies didn’t have very good assets to begin with. You can go through bankruptcy and wipe away debt and that’s all well and good, but the assets they ended up with are still not very attractive.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Oil Prices Fall As EIA Confirms Inventory Build

Oil Prices Fall As EIA Confirms Inventory Build

Rig

After a surprise 5.32-million-barrel inventory build reported by the American Petroleum Institute (API) weighed on oil prices yesterday, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is reportinga build of 1.6 million barrels for the week ending March 23.

The markets, which have not had a chance to react to the EIA report as of the time of writing, could ease their downward trend given the nearly 4-million difference in build in the official figures.

However, they could also take this as confirmation of a reversal of expectations. Heading into Tuesday’s API data, expectations were for a draw of around 430 million barrels.

The authority said refineries processed 16.8 million bpd of crude in the reporting period, unchanged from a week earlier. Gasoline production averaged 10.3 million bpd, compared with 9.9 million bpd a week earlier, and distillate output averaged 4.8 million bpd last week, versus 4.5 million bpd a week earlier.

Gasoline inventories, the EIA said, fell by 3.5 million barrels in the week to March 23. In the week before that, gasoline inventories marked a decline of 1.7 million barrels. Distillate inventories last week shed 2.1 million barrels, compared with a decline of 2 million barrels in the prior week.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

U.S. Rig Count Continues To Rise As Canadian Rig Count Plunges

U.S. Rig Count Continues To Rise As Canadian Rig Count Plunges

Sunset oil rig

Baker Hughes reported another 5-rig increase to the number of oil and gas rigs this week.

The total number of oil and gas rigs now stands at 995, which is an addition of 186 rigs year over year.

The number of oil rigs in the United States increased by 4 this week, for a total of 804 active oil wells in the U.S.—a figure that is 152 more rigs than this time last year. The number of gas rigs rose by 1 this week, and now stands at 190; 35 rigs above this week last year.

The oil and gas rig count in the United States has increased by 71 in 2018.

Canada continued its severe losing streak, with a decrease of 58 oil and gas rigs, after losing 54 rigs on top last week, and a 29-rig loss the week before. At 161 total rigs, Canada now has 84 fewer rigs than it did a year ago.

Oil prices managed to climb substantially this week and were up again today prior to data release as the Saudi Energy Minister, Khalid al-Falih, said that he expected the production cuts to last into 2019. Other factors buoying prices are tensions in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia insisted that it would pursue nuclear power plans with or without the support of the United States, and would even work on developing nuclear weapons should Iran do the same. Weighing on prices this week is U.S. crude oil production, which continued its uptick in the week ending March 16, reaching 10.407 million bpd.

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Oil Prices Tear Higher On Middle East Tensions

Oil Prices Tear Higher On Middle East Tensions

Marcellus gas rig

Oil prices rose on Tuesday ahead of the API data report, fueled by Middle East tensions and dwindling crude output in Venezuela.

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– U.S crude oil exports averaged 1.1 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2017, twice as high as 2016. It was the second full-year since the prohibition on crude exports had been lifted.

– Canada remained the largest buyer at 29 percent of total U.S. exports. But a notable development was the emergence of China as a major buyer of U.S. crude, representing 20 percent of the total.

– Breaking it down by product type, crude oil only accounts for 18 percent of total petroleum product exports, with hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL) and distillates each accounting for 22 percent.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Still None, and Even More Reasons to Expect None

The parallels between the last few years and those at the end of the 1990’s are striking. There was a few years ago the monetary intrusion of the “rising dollar” which at its worst seriously depressed the global economy. Oil prices crashed, as did several key currencies, and deflationary pressures that often accompany a significant downturn were manifest.

Starting in 1997, there was all of that, too. Oil prices though much lower to begin with were crushed, overseas the “dollar” “rose”, and currency problems were everywhere particularly in Asia (Japan both times, China only the later). And there were asset bubbles in both.

In terms of consumer price inflation, the similarities did not end. In 1999, the Federal Reserve having failed to account for the reasons behind the Asian flu began to act in anticipation of rising inflation. Ignoring bond market warnings, as Economists always do, the Fed took the excuse of oil price effects and their impacts on consumer price indices as justification.

Raising rates throughout 1999 and 2000, the central bank was eventually stopped by the collapse of the dot-com bubble and the deflationary pressures of recession as well as finance it did not foresee even though the bond market had been trading against them all along. Inflation, as a necessary consequence, fell back, too.

At its apex, the PCE Deflator in early 2001 reached a high of 2.87% and went no further. What was missing from the episode was every indication of broad-based consumer price inflation that might have suggested their concerns over acceleration or related imbalance. The so-called core rate never really moved all that much, indicating that oil prices off the 1999 lows were entirely responsible for the rise in the rate (WTI was up more than 60% year-over-year when the PCE Deflator registered that 2.87%).

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Trump’s Trade Wars Could Spark A Massive Drop In Oil

Trump’s Trade Wars Could Spark A Massive Drop In Oil

oil pipelines

Today, I am breaking with two of my rules in writing these pieces. I generally try to steer clear of politics and to avoid being alarmist or overly sensational. What has forced me to ignore both rules is the announcement on Thursday by Donald Trump that he is going to enact tariffs on steel and aluminum next week. Politicians in general have less influence on economies than they think, but they can cause disruption, and particularly when they make economic decisions for political reasons. That is what this is, and it has the potential to cause a massive selloff of oil and other commodities.

You may feel that this is ultimately good policy and given the circumstance, a strong argument can be made that is true. Here though, the timing of the announcement suggests that it is in response to what looks like increasing chaos in the administration and a Special Counsel’s investigation that seems to be moving inexorably closer to the President himself. In other words, it is a political play, regardless of the potential short-term economic consequences. The actual results of imposing tariffs and sparking retaliation, however, are not the point. What matters, as is so often the case, is perception, and the perception of traders will be that measures such as those proposed could pose a serious threat to global growth and thus cripple demand for oil.

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There has been a lot of focus during oil’s recovery back into the 60s on supply, with the output cuts from the OPEC led group of producers leading to a reduction in the worldwide glut of crude. But, those cuts are only effective if demand continues to grow.

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Physical Oil Markets Don’t Lie – Is Another Crash Likely?

Physical Oil Markets Don’t Lie – Is Another Crash Likely?

OPEC oil

Oil prices are falling and analysts and market players are as eager as ever to explain the decline in accordance with their own bullish or bearish leanings. It’s a natural correction that was only to be expected after the buildup of long bets on crude oil and oil product futures, the bulls insist. It’s the start of a trend, thanks to the major jump in U.S. production, the bears counter. Now, data from physical oil markets has surfaced that supports the bears’ stance.

North Sea Forties, Russian Urals, WTI, and Atlantic diesel have all fallen to their lowest in several months, Reuters reports, citing commodity traders and analysts. These are physical markets — the markets where actual oil is taken from one place and shipped to another to be refined into fuel and other products, as opposed to the speculative futures market. If the physical market points down, chances are the price drop — 15 percent in three weeks — is not just a blip, as OPEC’s Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo said earlier this week.

Interestingly enough, Barkindo also said he had Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word that Russia will not flood the market with oil while the cut deal still holds. The reason this statement is interesting is that it is the latest example of OPEC’s tendency towards upbeat comments that have little substance, unlike the physical oil market data.

RBC Capital Markets’ Michael Tran told Reuters that, “Physical markets do not lie. If regional areas of oversupply cannot find pockets of demand, prices will decline. Atlantic Basin crudes are the barometer for the health of the global oil market since the region is the first to reflect looser fundamentals. Struggling North Sea physical crudes like Brent, Forties, and Ekofisk suggest that barrels are having difficulty finding buyers.”

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IEA Warns Of New Oil Glut

IEA Warns Of New Oil Glut

oil pipeline

The global oil market could slip into deeper oversupply on the back of non-OPEC production growth led by the United States, the International Energy Agency said in its latest Oil Market Report.

“The main factor,” the IEA said, “is US oil production. In just three months to November, crude output increased by a colossal 846 kb/d, and will soon overtake that of Saudi Arabia. By the end of this year, it might also overtake Russia to become the global leader.”

Commenting on the recent reversal in oil prices, the authority attributed it to profit-taking and a market correction spanning all industries, adding that oil’s fundamentals supported a decline in prices.

The situation in the United States suggests that history is repeating itself and what we are seeing now is indeed a second shale revolution that could bring petroleum liquids production on par with global demand growth.

But that’s not all. The IEA noted the recent shipment of the first U.S. condensate cargo to the UAE, which although unique might prove to be the start of a new era in international oil trading patterns.

The news is certainly not good for OPEC and, to a lesser extent, Russia, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel: global economic growth could turn out to be stronger than previously expected and this would help offset the impact of growing U.S. production on prices and keep them where they are now.

The authority hinted that the end of the OPEC deal could be in sight given that the overhang in OECD oil inventories has shrunk to just 52 million barrels from 264 million barrels a year ago, but added that the trend in oil prices could convince the cartel to wait.

Separately, the IEA maintained its 2017 oil demand growth estimate at 1.6 million bpd and said this year demand will grow by 1.4 million bpd, a 100,000-bpd upward revision on the January OMR estimate thanks to IMF’s expectations of stronger economic growth this year.

Oil Prices: Collapse Now, Spike Later

Oil Prices: Collapse Now, Spike Later

Oil storage

Oil prices closed out the week sharply down, wiping out all the gains posted since the start of the year.

Surging U.S. shale production, along with broader financial turmoil, has clearly put an end to the bullish mood in the oil market. U.S. shale struck several blows against oil prices this week.

First, the EIA dramatically overhauled its forecasts, predicting U.S. oil production would hit 11 million barrels per day (mb/d) this year, rather than late next year. Then, on Wednesday, it revealed estimates that put U.S. oil production at 10.25 mb/d for the week ending on February 2, a staggering 330,000 bpd increase from a week earlier. Those weekly estimates are subject to revision when more data becomes available, but if those figures hold, it would point to a significant ramp up in drilling activity and new supply coming online.

As a result, it seems that, in the short run at least, U.S. shale has killed off the oil price rally, which saw WTI move from $50 per barrel in October to the mid-$60s per barrel by January. Brent saw a similar jump from the mid-$50s to $70.

But we’re now potentially moving into the next phase of this cycle, an all-too-familiar correction after prices have seemingly climbed too far.

This time around the downward swing could be aided by a rebound in the strength of the dollar. Typically, a weakening dollar pushes up oil prices, and the rapid run up in prices over the last few months occurred not coincidentally at a time when the dollar posted a steep decline. But the greenback has clawed back gains, particularly over the last week, with expectations of rising interest rates.

“The dollar index got down to 86 [cents], crude got to $66,” John Kilduff, founding partner of Again Capital, told CNBC.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

WTI/RBOB Sink After US OIl Production Hits Record High, Surpassing Saudi

WTI/RBOB held on to gains after last night’s surprise crude draw from API, but quickly tumbled after DOE reported a 1.9mm crude build (2nd week in a row) and significant gasoline and distillate builds. However, US crude production’s massive spike to 10.25m b/d was the big headline.

API

  • Crude -1.05mm (+3.15mm exp)
  • Cushing -633k
  • Gasoline -227k
  • Distillates +4.552m

DOE

  • Crude +1.895mm (+3.15mm exp)
  • Cushing -711k (-263k exp)
  • Gasoline +3.414mm (+500k exp)
  • Distillates +3.926mm (-1.25mm exp)

Last week’s surprise (huge) crude build from DOE was dismissed by API overnight but DOE ruined that party and showed the second weekly crude build in a row. Gasoline and Distillates stocks resumed their rise…

As Bloomberg’s David Marino notes, Total U.S. inventories grew the most since early September. It’s actually even a bigger deal than the headline number suggests: if not for a 6.4 million draw from propane/propylene and “other” oils, we’d be looking at a 10 million barrel build.

But all eyes were once again on US crude production as it smashed above 10m b/d.

As Bloomberg’s Julian Lee notes, that huge jump in crude production is not the result of a sudden burst of drilling. More likely it is the correction we expected after the earlier release of monthly data for November that showed production was already above 10 million barrels a day three months ago.

U.S. crude output hits a record high of 10.25 million bpd, surpassing both the monthly high set in Nov 1970, and Saudi Arabia’s latest production.

 

The reaction in WTI/RBOB was swift…

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Are Oil Prices Heading for Another Spike?

 Pipeline moves crude oil from Prudhoe BayJoe Sohm/Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images

Are Oil Prices Heading for Another Spike?

The decline in the dollar’s exchange rate seems to have gathered momentum, in part because the person who has his signature on US currency, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, seems unperturbed by its weakness. If it continues, will energy costs spiral upward?

CAMBRIDGE – The price at the pump for premium gasoline topped $3 per gallon in much of the United States over the past few weeks, which is surprising to consumers but not to analysts of the world’s oil markets. From its local low two years ago, the price of oil has more than doubled. As with any market, where you stand on this price increase depends on where you sit.

Higher oil prices buttress the fortunes of producers abroad and at home. The International Monetary Fund upgraded the GDP growth outlook of all six of the top ten oil producers that were shown separately in its 2018 forecast update, and the projected growth of world trade volumes was raised half a percentage point this year and next. Increased oil revenues improve the fiscal positions of most producing economies, and some have taken advantage of global investors’ hardier appetite to issue sovereign debt.

In the US, the five states with the largest gains in oil production this decade recorded employment growth of 2.75% in 2017, double the national average. Meanwhile, the number of oil rigs nationwide increased by roughly 50%.

At the same time, a doubling of energy costs takes a significant bite out of US households’ budgets, with energy costs directly accounting for about 6.5% of consumer spending. Even more problematic, this is a regressive tax, disproportionately draining lower-income households’ discretionary spending power.

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Why Oil Prices Could Dive

Why Oil Prices Could Dive

Rosneft oil tanks

WTI briefly touched $65 per barrel after the EIA reported a surprise drawdown in inventories — the highest price since late 2014. Although the rally hit some stumbling blocks in recent days, prices remain at multi-year highs. However, absent further bullish news, the downside risk looms large.

One of the most acute threats to prices is the exorbitant positioning by hedge funds and other money managers, who have staked out record net longs in the oil futures market. With everyone piling into one side of the bet, there’s little room left on the upside. This kind of lopsided positioning has consistently ended with a rush for the exits, setting off a sudden — and often sharp — price correction.

Mad Money’s Jim Cramer spoke about the problem on Tuesday on CNBC. “As of last week, large speculators were holding the single largest bullish position in the history of crude oil,” he said. “Being bullish is NOT a good sign … when everyone’s bullish, well, then, you don’t have anyone to convert to be able to start buying … You need to convert bears but there’s no bears.”

Cramer, citing data from Carley Garner, co-founder of DeCarley Trading, said the current makeup in the futures market points to a near-term price correction. “As Garner points out, when one of these massive speculative bets in oil unwinds, you do not want to get caught anywhere near the blast radius,” Cramer said.

Another force working against the current rally is the recent decline of the dollar, which has been weakening for the last several weeks. Since oil is denominated in U.S. dollars, a weaker dollar can put upward pressure on crude prices as crude becomes relatively less expensive to much of the world.

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What Could Push Oil To $100?

What Could Push Oil To $100?

Oil rig offshore

If anyone thought the latest oil market outlooks of the EIA and the IEA are upbeat, here’s an even more upbeat one from Energy Aspects: The consultancy expects crude demand this year to grow by 1.7 million bpd, and says Brent could touch above $100 a barrel in 2019.

According to Energy Aspects, the reason for the further jump in prices will be a drop in new production outside the U.S. shale patch. It’s a little hard to buy that, however, if one remembers that there is 1.8 million bpd in production capacity ready to be tapped again once OEPC and Russia taper their production cuts. That alone should take care of the demand growth that the consultancy predicts for this year. That is, unless it booms by 2 million bpd, which is the top of the range forecast by Energy Aspects. But even then, the U.S. and Russia alone could take care of it: The Russian state majors are itching to expand production in eastern Siberia.

Of course, the likelihood of OPEC and Russia bringing all that production online is highly debatable, as the partners in the cut deal seem still determined to continue with the original plan. Nevertheless, the barrels are there, so there’s no urgent need for actual new production yet. However, if global demand grows so much so quickly, does anyone have any doubts that the new, expanded oil cartel will be flexible enough to make the best of the situation? Hardly.

So how likely is this demand growth? According to Energy Aspects, there is currently “no real drag on demand growth.” The global economy is in growth mode, which lends strong support to the price momentum, and the short-term forecasts for the top consumers of crude oil are all bullish. Yet, there’s one potential drag: prices.

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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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