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Slipping Rig Count Can’t Keep Oil Prices From Falling

Slipping Rig Count Can’t Keep Oil Prices From Falling

BHGE rig

Baker Hughes reported a 4-rig decrease for oil and gas in the United States this week—a loss in rigs for the third week in a row. The four-rig decline was all on the oil-rig side, with gas rigs holding steady.

The total number of active oil and gas drilling rigs now stands at 1,071 according to the report, with the number of active oil rigs decreasing by 4 to reach 873 and the number of gas rigs holding steady at 198.

The oil and gas rig count is now 141 up from this time last year, 126 of which is in oil rigs.

Crude oil prices fell sharply near the close of the week on Friday despite production losses in OPEC’s Libya and an agreement within OPEC+ to cut 1.2 million bpd from the expanded cartel’s October production.

The WTI benchmark was trading down 2.26% (-$1.19) at $51.39—a loss of more than $2 per barrel week over week—at 11:39am EST. Brent crude was trading down 1.84% (-$1.13) at $60.32—also down more than $2 per barrel from last week

Canada’s oil and gas rigs for the week decreased by 12 rigs this week after losing 17 rigs last week, bringing its total oil and gas rig count to 174, which is 64 fewer rigs than this time last year, with a 7-rig decrease for oil rigs, and a 5-rig decrease for gas rigs.

The EIA’s estimates for US production for the week ending December 7 continues to weigh on prices, averaging 11.6 million bpd­—a drop off from the previous 11.7 million bpd for the previous four weeks.

By 1:07pm EDT, WTI had decreased by 2.68% (-$1.41) at $51.17 on the day. Brent crude was trading down 2.03% (-$1.25) at $60.20 per barrel.

A VERY RARE SETUP: Who Will Win The Tug Of War In The Oil Market?

A VERY RARE SETUP: Who Will Win The Tug Of War In The Oil Market?

There has been a tug of war in the oil price over the past two weeks.  Due to a very rare setup in the market, the oil price has traded in a very narrow range as traders fight it out to see who will win control… the BULLS or the BEARS.  My bet is on the bet is on the bears.  Amazingly, the oil price is literally stuck right between two critical technical levels.

Ever since the oil price peaked at $77 at the beginning of October, it has fallen $25 and is now trading in a tight volatile range between $50-$53.  As we can see in the chart below, the oil price dropped to $50 at the end of November and now has been trading up and down with no clear direction:

Oil Price Daily Chart (Each candlestick = 1 day of trading)

Even though the oil price touched $54 for a few days, it has mostly been trading in a tight $3 range.  In looking at this daily chart, we have no idea why the oil price is behaving in such a way.  However, if we look at the longer-term monthly chart, we can see the apparent reason why.  The oil price has been pushed between the 50 Month Moving Average (BLUE) and the 300 Month Moving Average (ORANGE):

Oil Price Monthly Chart (Each candlestick = 1 month of trading)

If you look at the magnified view, you will see that the oil price that closed today at $52.58 remains between these two moving averages.  The large red candlestick shows the decline in the oil price in November as each candlestick represents one month of trading.

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

Gold & Silver Prices Rise As The Markets & Oil Decline

Gold & Silver Prices Rise As The Markets & Oil Decline

Over the past week, the gold and silver prices have held up rather well compared to the overall markets.  While precious metals investors still fear that a huge sell-off in the gold and silver prices will take place during the next market crash, it seems that the metals continue to be very resilient during large market corrections.

Now, I am not saying that the metals prices cannot fall any lower, but a lot of the leverage in the gold and silver market has already been removed and is now at a near all-time low.  So, even though we could see weaker precious metals prices, the overwhelming leverage and bubble asset prices are in the stock and real estate markets.

Furthermore, one of the reasons precious metals investors still fear that a major selloff is imminent is that they are using the 2007-2008 economic market meltdown as a guideline.  However, when gold and silver prices were plummeting from their highs in 2008, along with the rest of the market, speculators held huge long positions while the commercials controlled an enormous number of short contracts.

If we look at the following Gold Hedgers Chart, we can clearly see that the market setup today is the exact opposite of what it was in 2008:

When gold was trading near $1,000 in early 2008, the commercial banks held a record high of 252,000 net short contracts compared to the present gold price of $1,222 (time of chart), with the commercials only holding 16,000 net short contracts.  The commercial short positions are shown by the blue line.  Thus, the higher the commercial short positions, the lower the line goes and the lower the number, the higher the line moves.  Currently, the gold price and commercial net short positions are both at the near lows.  Also, the speculator net long positions are close to their lows as well

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

OPEC Cuts Deep to Save Cartel

OPEC Cuts Deep to Save Cartel

With oil prices in free fall and the dawning realization that Great Reflation trade of 2017 is over, OPEC needed to do something drastic to remind everyone how important they are.

Moreover, with Qatar quitting the cartel last week it was then doubly necessary for OPEC to make the markets stand up and remember them.

So, after a few days of wrangling, a 1.2 million barrel per day cut was announced by OPEC, far larger than the market was expecting.

The Trump administration is fuming today over this result.

Predictably, oil prices jumped on the news.  All is right with their world, yes?

Well, yes and no.  The Saudis need $80 per barrel oil.  Russia doesn’t get its hair mussed below around $50 and even then it simply scales back government spending in line with oil prices — auto-budgeting based on oil tariffs.

The free-floating ruble insulates Russia domestically from a sharp drop in oil prices far better than Saudi Arabia since the Riyal is pegged to the U.S. dollar.

But for Saudi Arabia, the stakes are far higher.  And its chief rival, Iran, understands this very well.  The reason the OPEC meeting was so touch and go was Iran exerting its leverage over the Saudis in response to U.S. sanctions.

Because while Russia agreed to a 200,000 barrel cut, which is nothing to them in the grand scheme of things, Iran was exempted from making any cuts.

Iran, Libya and Venezuela will be effectively exempt from the cuts, though the text of the deal will say they received “special considerations,” Iraqi oil minister Thamir Ghadhban said.

Saudi Loss Leader

Saudi leadership is weakening.  Qatar left to pursue its own ambitions without OPEC getting in the way.  That’s a nice way of saying they want to do business with Iran developing the shared North Pars gas field.

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

Oil Price Slide Puts The Brakes On U.S. Shale Growth

Oil Price Slide Puts The Brakes On U.S. Shale Growth

oil rig

While U.S. President Donald Trump continues to call on OPEC to keep oil prices low, because “The World does not want to see, or need, higher oil prices!”, one corner of the world may need WTI prices higher than the current low $50s to keep pumping crude at the record pace it has been doing so far this year—the U.S. shale patch.

The recent price slide, by around 30 percent from four-year highs in early October, has brought down WTI Crude prices dangerously close to the wellhead breakeven prices in many U.S. shale areas.

The lower prices may lead to a slowdown in drilling activity and lower investments in the shale patch, U.S. oil industry executives and analysts say.

U.S. shale drilling may soon start to show slowdown in activity, Gary Heminger, Chairman and CEO at Marathon Petroleum Corporation, told FOX Business on Wednesday.

“If you look at the Canadian producers, when you’re looking at the wide spreads of the Western Canadian Select versus WTI, you look at some of the real cost to get some of the crude out of the Bakken because the pipelines are full – I think we are going to start seeing a slowdown in drilling if they don’t see some prices turn around,” Heminger warned, but noted that he doesn’t expect the slowdown to be “dramatic”.

The U.S. shale patch has managed to significantly cut wellhead breakeven prices since the oil price crash of 2014. Yet, its capital expenditure plans for 2019 may be derailed by $50 oil—a reality few had conceived of just two months ago, when the market was spooked by Iranian oil supply plunging to zero, or at least to much lower than the currently some 1.2 million bpd still being exported out of Iran.

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

Oil Volatile As Iran Denies Reports It Agreed To Deal

Oil Volatile As Iran Denies Reports It Agreed To Deal

Update (8:00 am ET): Oil prices spiked Friday morning before quickly fading after Reuters reported that Iran has agreed to the OPEC deal for 800,000 b/d of cuts – only for an Iranian delegate to swiftly deny that report, sending crude prices back from whence they came.

The Iranian delegate said there’s still ‘lots of haggling’ about a possible deal.

* * *

Update (7:10 am ET): As furious negotiations continue on day two of the OPEC+ talks in Vienna, one OPEC delegate has informed BBG that the group has yet to finalize the final number for the cuts.

* * *

Update (6:30 am ET): Boom…

OPEC TALKS IN VIENNA ARE DEADLOCKED: DELEGATE
Reports of the deadline followed headlines claiming that Iran had demanded that an exemption must be included in any agreement about production cuts. A counteroffer for Iran to agree to a “symbolic” cut has reportedly been categorically rejected by the Gulf Producer. WTI has moved back to unch on the day.

* * *

Update (6:20 am ET): Expressing dissatisfaction with the terms of whatever deal has been discussed, Iran is reportedly holding out for language about an exemption for the struggling producer to be included in the agreement following three hours of talks on Friday.

It would be ironic if Iran – which has been blamed, along with Saudi Arabia and Russia, for triggering the collapse in oil prices due to the sanctions ‘exemptions’ on its oil exports extended by the US – ends up killing the deal, because the only less-desirable outcome for oil markets than a ‘baseline’ cut scenario would be ‘no deal’.

Oil prices are all over the place as the perceived prospects for a deal change with each new headline.

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

U.S. Shale Struggles As Oil Prices Drop

U.S. Shale Struggles As Oil Prices Drop

roughnecks

The explosive production growth in the U.S. shale patch has surprised even the most optimistic forecasters, but the huge jumps in output belies and obscures the financial state of the industry, which is a bit more complicated than the production figures might suggest.

Shale companies scrambled to cut costs during the oil market downturn between 2014 and 2017, and they successfully lowered their breakeven prices significantly. When OPEC+ agreed on its initial production cut deal, which started at the beginning of 2017, the higher prices that resulted from the agreement allowed U.S. shale to rebound in a big way. Surging production over the past two years suggested that the shale industry was stronger than ever.

This year was supposed to be the year that the money started rolling in – with cost cuts in hand and higher oil prices lifting all boats, shale drillers were supposed to be in the clear. But profits have been elusive.

To be sure, some companies have posted significant earnings. The oil majors, in particular, are earning more money than they have in a long time. But the bulk of the shale industry is still struggling. According to the Wall Street Journal, the 30 largest shale companies earned a rather marginal $1.7 billion combined in 2017.

The latest meltdown in prices, however, puts a lot in the industry right back into hot water. The problem is that despite boasts of low breakeven prices, many shale companies have failed to take a comprehensive look at the all-in costs of producing oil, as the Wall Street Journal points out.

It wasn’t uncommon over the last few years to hear shale executives brag about how their wells were profitable even with oil under $40 per barrel. But often those figures didn’t include the cost of land acquisition, or transportation.

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

World Bank Warns Of Extreme Volatility In Oil Markets

World Bank Warns Of Extreme Volatility In Oil Markets

World Bank

After several months of oil price rises and then a sharp reversal over the last few weeks, world oil markets are in for more heightened volatility next year because of scarce spare production capacity among OPEC members. This warning comes from the World Bank, which in the latest edition of its Russia Economic Report said that OPEC was the single most important factor for oil price outlooks in the short term.

“As non-OPEC oil supply growth is expected to be greater than that of global demand, the outlook for oil prices depends heavily on supply from OPEC members,” the report’s authors noted. The level of spare capacity among OPEC members is estimated to be low at present, suggesting there are limited buffers in the event of a sudden shortfall in supply of oil, raising the likelihood of oil price spikes in 2019.”

The World Bank is not alone in seeing OPEC’s spare capacity as an important factor for oil prices going forward. Spare capacity provides a cushion against price shocks as evidenced most recently by the June decision of the cartel and Russia to start pumping more again after 18 months of cutting to arrest a too fast increase in oil prices. They had the capacity to do it and prices stopped rising, helped by downward revisions of economic forecasts.

Now, the oil market is plagued with concerns about oversupply, but this could change quite quickly if there is any sign that OPEC is nearing the end of its spare production capacity. As to the likelihood of such a sign emerging anytime soon, this remains to be seen.

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

GOLD, SILVER & THE MARKETS: What’s Next For 2019

GOLD, SILVER & THE MARKETS: What’s Next For 2019

The big question on the minds of most investors is what will happen to the markets and precious metals in 2019.  Well, the answer depends mainly on two factors, the oil price and overall weakness in the economy.  If the oil price continues to decline, it will indicate a deflationary outcome for the economy and markets.

While this sounds counter to the notion that falling oil prices will drive higher consumer demand, we also must remember that it will negatively impact the U.S. shale oil industry.  A lower sustained oil price, as I wrote about in my previous article, IT BEGINS… Rapidly Falling Oil Prices First Guts Tar Sands, Then Shale Oil will begin to destroy the oil industry, especially the unconventional oil industry.  I don’t believe Americans or the investors realize the tremendous amount of economic activity it takes to produce shale oil.

Now, the last U.S. economic bubble in 2007-2008 was based on a highly leveraged housing market. However, the present economic bubble is being propped up by the U.S. Shale Oil Ponzi Scheme.  Some energy analysts don’t believe the U.S. shale oil industry has that much of an impact on the market, but I disagree.  Since the 2008 market crash, the U.S. shale oil industry has brought on nearly 7 million barrels per day (mbd) of tight oil.  U.S. oil production has surged from 5 mbd in 2008 to 11.7 mbd currently.

So, to understand what happens to the markets in 2019, we need to focus on the number one driver of the economy… THE OIL PRICE.  In my most recent video, GOLD, SILVER & MARKETS: What’s Next For 2019, I discuss what is taking place in the broader markets, gold-silver, and the oil price:

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

Oil Crashes After Saudis Propose Smaller Than Expected Production Cut

As if plunging equity futures were not enough for traders to worry about this morning, in the past two hours oil, which had rebounded heading into this week’s 2-day OPEC meeting, tumbled sharply, dropping as much as 5%, with WTI sliding as low as $50.23 – less than a dollar from this year’s low of $49.41 – from above $53/barrel earlier in the session as Saudi Arabia said producers were working towards a deal to cut output that could fall short of market expectations. Brent crude fell 4.2% to $58.99 a barrel.

Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters ahead of today’s critical closed-door meeting of oil ministers in Vienna that OPEC and allies outside of the cartel including Russia were still working towards reaching an agreement by Friday.

Falih said Saudi Arabia’s preference was for a “sufficient cut but not overly large”, adding that a 1 million barrels a day “would be adequate”, but noting that “there is no deal yet.” He may have been remembering Trump’s tweet from yesterday, and realizing that if the US president gets angry with his boss, and de facto real OPEC leader, Crown Prince MbS, things could get much worse.

The kingdom also called for contributions from all countries, saying that the deal should be “fair and equitable” and should include Russia, as well as countries that were exempt from previous deals, such as Libya and Nigeria.

Quoted by the FT, when asked if a pact might not be reached, he said all options were on the table, but added that Russia, the largest oil producer in OPEC+ but slightly behind the US, and seen as crucial to reaching a deal, had “made a promise” to cut.

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

Iran: Oil To Fall To $40 If OPEC Fails To Reach Deal

Iran: Oil To Fall To $40 If OPEC Fails To Reach Deal

oil tanker hurricane

A fractured OPEC is meeting later this week to discuss a deal to cut oil production—yet again—to rebalance the market and lift oil prices that have recently slipped to below most of the cartel members’ budget-balance points.

OPEC needs a unanimous vote to pass decisions such as curtailing production. Yet, Iran—one of OPEC’s biggest producers but also one of the most sidelined members in recent months—warns that the group is unlikely to reach an agreement on a sizeable cut of around 1.4 million bpd as some are suggesting. Such a failure to act decisively would send oil prices plunging to $40 a barrel, Iran’s OPEC Governor Hossein Kazempour Ardebili told Bloomberg in an interview.

The cartel and its Russia-led non-OPEC allies may not extend their cooperation pact either, according to Iran’s representative at OPEC—a position typically held by the second most powerful oilman in a cartel member after the oil minister.

Iran has repeatedly expressed frustration with the Saudi/Russia-led increase in oil production since June to offset what was expected to be a steep decline in Iranian oil supply with the U.S. sanctions on Tehran’s petroleum and shipping industries.

Iran’s oil exports indeed dropped by some 1 million bpd, but they are likely still holding onto above 1 million bpd, while U.S. waivers to eight Iranian customers allow buyers to continue purchasing oil at reduced volumes until the end of April next year.

Oil prices have plunged by around 30 percent from early October as the market started to fear an oversupply is building up again, due to record high production in Saudi Arabia and Russia, and an all-time high oil output in the United States, coupled with fears of slowing economic and oil demand growth.

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

What Crashing Refining Margins Mean For Oil Markets

What Crashing Refining Margins Mean For Oil Markets

Refinery

Oil prices have plunged to one-year lows, but refiners in certain parts of the U.S. are not benefitting from cheaper crude.

According to new data from the EIA, refining margins for motor gasoline have fallen to five-year lows. “Flattening year-over-year growth in gasoline demand in the United States, combined with high levels of refinery output, have contributed to low or negative motor gasoline refining margins for refiners along the East and Gulf Coasts,” the EIA said on November 27. Gasoline refining margins have been declining since August.

In November, U.S. gasoline demand is expected to have averaged 9.2 million barrels per day (mb/d), down 262,000 bpd from a year earlier.

(Click to enlarge)

Meanwhile, prices for distillates, such as diesel, are much higher. The discrepancy is notable, and the markets for gasoline and distillates have diverged sharply this year. The forthcoming 2020 International Maritime Organization regulations on sulfur content in maritime fuels is set to push extremely dirty heavy fuel oil out of the mix for ship-owners. One of the most important replacements for fuel oil be diesel and gasoil – in other words, distillate demand is set to spike at the start of 2020. In anticipation of these regulations, distillate prices are seeing upward pressure.

With diesel prices on the rise and gasoline prices heading in the other direction, refiners might want to maximize diesel output. However, things aren’t that simple. As the EIA notes, for every barrel of crude oil processed in a refinery, it tends to yield twice as much gasoline as it does diesel. “As a result, although gasoline margins have been low recently, refiners cannot completely stop making gasoline in favor of other petroleum products, such as distillate,” the EIA said.

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Alberta Orders “Unprecedented” Oil Output Cut To Combat Crashing Prices

While just a few hundred miles south, WTI is flirting with the one year low price of $50/barrel, Canada’s oil-producing hub, Alberta, would be ecstatic to have its oil trade at anything even remotely close to this level.

As we reported recently, Canadian oil producers are in an increasingly tough predicament. With high and increasing oil demand around the globe over the last year, Canadian oil production has increased accordingly. All of this is simple and predictable economics, but in the process Canadian oil hit a massive roadblock. Producers have the supply, and they have more than enough demand, but they don’t have the means to make the connection. Canadian export pipelines simply don’t have the capacity to keep up with either the supply or the demand.

Canadian oil producers have now maxed out their storage capacity, and the Canadian glut continues to grow while they wait for a solution to the pipeline problem to materialize. As pipeline space is at a premium and storage has hit maximum capacity, oil prices have fallen dramatically, and the differentials that had previously been hitting heavy oil hard in Canada (now at below $14 a barrel for the first time since 2016) have now spread to light oil and upgraded synthetic oil sands crude as well, leaving overall Canadian oil prices at record lows.

So in a long-awaited and according to local energy traders, overdue response, Canada’s largest oil producing province ordered what Bloomberg called “an unprecedented output cut”, an effort to ease a worsening crisis in the nation’s energy industry and adding to global actions to combat a recent price crash ahead of this week’s OPEC+ summit where oil exporters will similarly seek to slash output (something which all OPEC+ nations agree upon, but nobody wants to be the first to cut its own production).

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

Oil Prices Set To Book Worst Month In A Decade

Oil Prices Set To Book Worst Month In A Decade

Refinery

Oil prices dropped early on Friday, on course to finish their worst month since 2008, as fears of oversupply and slowing demand growth dragged oil down into a bear market in November with prices off by some 30 percent from four-year highs in early October.

At 07:10 a.m. EDT on Friday, WTI Crude was down 1.81 percent at $50.52, and Brent Crudetraded down 1.47 percent at $59.03.

On Thursday, oil prices jumped on reports that Russia had conceded that it needs to reduce oil production and join a new Saudi-led OPEC cut to balance the market.

The rise didn’t last long—prices headed down again on Friday, pressured by rising U.S. oil production and comments by Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak, who said in an interview with the TASS news agency that “To me, the current price range is comfortable for producers and consumers.”

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin also signaled that Moscow is okay with oil prices at their current levels.

Russia is comfortable with oil at around $60, Putin said, a week ahead of the OPEC+ meeting in Vienna and just two days before the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires.

In his interview with TASS published on Friday, Novak, as usual, was elusive about Russia’s position about a new production cut, and said that Moscow will have its stance ready by the December 6-7 meeting.

Before the OPEC/non-OPEC meeting, the oil market will be looking for clues about global economy and trade at this weekend’s G-20 summit. U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet on the sidelines of the event to discuss the trade war. Putin, for his part, is expected to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the two may discuss the OPEC-Russia oil cooperation, days ahead of the OPEC+ meeting.

The next few days could provide some major catalyst for oil prices.

Low Oil Prices: An Indication of Major Problems Ahead?

Low Oil Prices: An Indication of Major Problems Ahead?

Many people, including most Peak Oilers, expect that oil prices will rise endlessly. They expect rising oil prices because, over time, companies find it necessary to access more difficult-to-extract oil. Accessing such oil tends to be increasingly expensive because it tends to require the use of greater quantities of resources and more advanced technology. This issue is sometimes referred to as diminishing returns. Figure 1 shows how oil prices might be expected to rise, if the higher costs encountered as a result of diminishing returns can be fully recovered from the ultimate customers of this oil.

Figure 1. Chart showing expected long-term rise in oil prices as the full cost of oil production becomes increasingly expensive due to diminishing returns.

In my view, this analysis suggesting ever-rising prices is incomplete. After a point, prices can’t really keep up with rising costs because the wages of many workers lag behind the growing cost of extraction.

The economy is a networked system facing many pressures, including a growing level of debt and the rising use of technology. When these pressures are considered, my analysis indicates that oil prices may fall too low for producers, rather than rise too high for consumers. Oil companies may close down if prices remain too low. Because of this, low oil prices should be of just as much concern as high oil prices.

In recent years, we have heard a great deal about the possibility of Peak Oil, including high oil prices. If the issue we are facing is really prices that are too low for producers, then there seems to be the possibility of a different limits issue, called Collapse. Many early economies seem to have collapsed as they reached resource limits.

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

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