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Oil Falls On Crude Inventory Build

Oil Falls On Crude Inventory Build

Oil jack

Crude oil prices slipped further down today after the Energy Information Administration reported crude oil inventories for the week to November 23 had added 3.6 million barrels. That’s compared with a build of 4.9 million barrels a week earlier.

The EIA figures came after yesterday the American Petroleum Institute reported an estimated inventory increase of 3.453 million barrels, which failed to affect prices in any significant way.

EIA also said gasoline inventories last week had declined by 800,000 barrels and distillate fuel inventories had added 2.6 million barrels. A week earlier, the authority estimated a decline of 1.3 million barrels in gasoline and a 100,000-barrel decline in distillate fuel inventories.

Meanwhile, production is hitting new highs and this will continue, according to most estimates, unless oil prices continue declining at a fast pace. The likelihood of this happening is relatively low, however. OPEC is meeting next week in Vienna to discuss a new round of production cuts and most analysts expect the cuts to be agreed with Russia also joining in again.

However, Morgan Stanley, for one, sees a 33-percent chance of the cartel failing or refusing to agree a production cut, in which case prices will definitely slump more, pressured by bleak economic outlooks and concerns about a crude oil oversupply. The argument against a production cut is simple enough: market share. It’s no wonder some OPEC members have already spoken against a cut, notably Libya, which said it expected to be granted an exemption from any cuts.

Besides the OPEC meeting, oil market observers would be watching the G20 meeting, where Russia may or may not give a clear indication whether it will join any cut agreements. Just like last time, Moscow would be a crucial ally for the cartel if it decides to join the cuts or a deal-breaker if it decides to sit these out.

 

Trump And OPEC Face Off Over Production Cuts

Trump And OPEC Face Off Over Production Cuts

oil rigs

“Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!” President Trump tweeted a few days ago.

Trump is a bit confused on the specific figures – perhaps he was mixing up Brent and WTI – but the message to Riyadh was clear. The American president is pleased with the collapse in oil prices and wants them to go even lower, although he’s light on specifics. “It would probably be incorrect to think that Trump has any particular oil price target other than ‘lower’, or a view on what would be a sustainable or even ‘fair’ oil price,” Standard Chartered wrote in a note on Wednesday. “The aim is simply to maximise the gain to consumers.”

The recent meltdown in oil prices is indeed impressive, but for prices to fall even more, OPEC+ would need to take a pass on a production cut. The problem is that the lower prices go, the more likely the group will agree to curb output.

Russia has been coy in recent weeks about where they stand on a production cut. The thinking in Moscow is a bit more cautious than in Riyadh – engineering a price increase, while good for the budget, also risks sparking more production from U.S. shale.

Moreover, Russia’s currency tends to weaken when oil prices fall, cushioning the blow to Russian oil producers and to the Russian economy. Russian firms can pay expenses in weaker rubles, while making oil sales in stronger dollars. Saudi Arabia, with its fixed exchange rate, doesn’t have this luxury. That makes the Saudis a bit more squeamish on lower prices.

However, Brent crude dipped below $60 per barrel on Friday, a level that starts to make even the Russians uncomfortable. As a result, the pressure is on OPEC+ to cut production.

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

Does The U.S. Really Need Saudi Oil?

Does The U.S. Really Need Saudi Oil?

oil rigs

“Saudi Arabia — if we broke with them, I think your oil prices would go through the roof. I’ve kept them down,” President Trump told reporters on Tuesday. “They’ve helped me keep them down. Right now we have low oil prices, or relatively. I’d like to see it go down even lower — lower.”

Oil prices have indeed fallen significantly in recent weeks, and to be sure, Saudi Arabia has played a large role in that. Saudi production reportedly hit a record high 11 million barrels per day (mb/d) at times this month, and global inventories are rising once again.

But Riyadh is also clearly upset at being “duped” by Trump. Having been convinced by the Trump administration that Iran’s oil exports were heading to zero, or at least close to zero, Saudi Arabia ramped up supply to offset the losses.

The U.S. then surprised the market by issuing a bunch of waivers, allowing Iran to continue to export oil. Japan and South Korea may even resume buying oil from Iran in January, after cutting imports to zero in anticipation of sanctions.

Almost immediately after the waivers were issued, oil prices crashed. Saudi Arabia then promptly announced that it would cut production by 500,000 bpd in December, and the rumors of an OPEC+ cut really began to pick up.

Trump is happy about the slide in oil prices, but Saudi Arabia clearly isn’t. Saudi Arabia and its OPEC+ partners could soon take action to push prices back up. So, it isn’t clear that Washington and Riyadh have the same objectives, or that their tight relationship is resulting in lower oil prices.

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

IEA Chief Urges Oil Producers Not To Cut Output

IEA Chief Urges Oil Producers Not To Cut Output

oil terminal

While OPEC is considering cutting oil production again, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol, called on Monday for ‘common sense’ because fresh cuts could have negative effects on the oil market.

“Currently markets are very well supplied but we should not forget that spare capacity in Saudi Arabia is very thin, therefore cutting the production significantly today by key oil producers may have some negative implications for the markets and further tightening the markets,” Reuters quoted Birol as saying at a news conference in Bratislava.

“My appeal to all producers and consumers across the world is to have common sense in these difficult days,” the IEA’s executive director said.

In its Oil Market Report for November published last week, the IEA said that surging production from the world’s biggest oil producers have more than offset Iranian and Venezuelan supply losses, while demand growth in some developing markets is slowing, pointing to a global oil oversupply next year.

Despite the implied surplus in oil supply next year, the IEA doesn’t see the oversupply as a threat to the markets.

“Although the oil market appears to be more relaxed than it was a few weeks ago, and there might be a sense of ‘mission accomplished’ that producers have met the challenge of replacing lost barrels, such is the volatility of events that rising stocks should be welcomed as a form of insurance, rather than a threat,” the IEA said in its report.

After the latest plunge in oil prices in recent weeks and after supply-demand analysis started to suggest that an oversupply may be building, OPEC and its de facto leader Saudi Arabia have started to hint at new production cuts, with speculation ranging from cuts of 1 million bpd to as much as 1.4 million bpd.

OPEC and allies meet in early December in Vienna, where they are set to discuss the state of the oil market and potential new oil production policies.

Trump Claims Victory As Oil Prices Plummet

Trump Claims Victory As Oil Prices Plummet

Trump

Oil prices are now down over 20 percent from recent highs, and President Trump knows exactly where the credit for that belongs. “If you look at oil prices they’ve come down very substantially over the last couple of months,” President Trump said in a news conference last week. “That’s because of me.”

The President is partially correct about that, but not for the reasons he thinks. He attributes it to his hard line on OPEC. But what has actually happened is that crude oil inventories in the U.S. have risen for seven straight weeks.

As pointed out in the previous article, one reason for that is that China, in response to the ongoing trade spat, has stopped importing U.S. oil. Earlier this year China imported more than half a million barrels of day of crude oil from the U.S. Loss of this export market has contributed to the inventory growth in the U.S. — and hence to the drop in crude oil prices. (Presumably, crude oil inventories are dropping elsewhere, but possibly in countries with less transparency about their inventories).

Some feel that there is also an element of fear that global demand may be slowing. But this week Reuters reported that China’s crude oil imports reached an all-time high in October. So, despite the trade war, demand in China doesn’t appear to be slowing. But China isn’t getting its oil from the U.S. now.

Where is China getting its oil? Iran, for one. Another way that President Trump has helped oil prices go down is that he blinked as the deadline for sanctions on Iran’s oil exports neared. Oil prices had risen about 50 percent over the past year because of the impending sanctions that were expected to take Iran’s oil off the market. (I don’t recall him taking credit for oil prices that rose in response to sanctions).

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

Saudis Cut Oil Exports To U.S. To Boost Crude Prices

Saudis Cut Oil Exports To U.S. To Boost Crude Prices

oil tankers

Saudi Arabia has been slashing oil exports to the United States over the past two months, in what looks like a move to force a reduction in the world’s most transparently reported inventories that could put the Saudis on a collision course with U.S. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly said that oil prices should be much lower.

The Saudis started to reduce shipments to the United States in September, and this month they are loading around 600,000 bpd on cargoes en route to the United States, down from more than 1 million bpd in July and August for example, CNBC reports, quoting figures from ClipperData.

According to ClipperData estimates, Saudi oil exports to the United States could soon reach their lowest levels on record.

The Saudi tactic to send reduced volumes to the States—which regularly reports every week crude oil inventories—succeeded last year.

Reduced Saudi oil imports tend to reflect in lower weekly U.S. inventories, while in the past weeks, crude builds have been weighing on oil prices, together with fears of an oversupplied global market and signs of slowing economic and oil demand growth.

“It worked so well in 2017 for [the Saudis] to cut flows to the U.S. because people could see the inventories dropping because U.S. data is so timely and transparent,” Matt Smith, head of commodities research at ClipperData, told CNBC.

Due to seasonally lower demand, Saudi Arabia will reduce its supply to the global markets by 500,000 bpd in December compared to November, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said this weekend. On Monday, al-Falih affirmed that OPEC will do ‘whatever it takes’ to balance the market, admitting that the cartel’s analysis shows that another cut of 1 million bpd may be required.

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

 

OPEC October Production Data

OPEC October Production Data

All OPEC data below is from the OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report The data is through October 2018 and is in thousand barrels per day.

OPEC 15 crude oil production was up 127,000 barrels per day in October. that was after September production was revised upward by 13,000 bpd.

OPEC production will likely be up a bit more in November but down considerably in December.

Iran down 156,000 barrels per day in October due to sanctions.

Iraq production has been flat lately. They are obviously pumping every barrel they possibly can.

Kuwaiti crude oil production has been relatively flat for 6.5 years. During that period their oil rig count increased from around 20 to a high of 44. It has recently dropped to 35 however. It should be obvious that they are producing flat out.

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

Oil Rallies On Report OPEC+ Will Do “Whatever It Takes”, May Cut By 1.4MM Barrels

One day after Saudi Arabia revealed that it had not complied with its production quota in October for the first time since OPEC’s November 2016 meeting in Vienna, Reuters sent oil prices into the green with a report that OPEC and its partners were discussing a proposal to cut oil output by up to 1.4 million barrels per day in 2019 to avoid a surplus that could tank prices.

Opec

Unnerved by oil’s record 12-day losing streak, OPEC and OPEC+ are again talking about cutting production just months after Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to pump more. The group is set to meet on Dec. 6 to agree on its policy for 2019.

West Texas Intermediate futures rose as much as 1.4% to $56.49/bbl on New York Mercantile Exchange, erasing an earlier 1% decline and briefly sending prices into the green – though the rally soon faded and prices slumped back into the red. If oil settles higher on the day, it would break what has been a record losing streak for oil prices.

OPEC

Still, the gains didn’t hold, as the report noted that least one OPEC member (Iran) still needed to be convinced to support the plan.

A supply cut of up to 1.4 million bpd was one of the options discussed by energy ministers from Saudi Arabia, non-OPEC Russia and other nations at a meeting in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, the sources said.

“I believe a cut of 1.4 million bpd is more reasonable than above it or below it,” one of the sources, who declined to be identified by name as the talks are confidential, said.

OPEC member Iran, as well as Russia, would need to be brought on board for the new plan, the sources added. One source said Iran does not want to have a production target in a new agreement as it is facing lower exports due to U.S. sanctions.

In comments that arrived after the report, OPEC chief Mohammed Barkindo revealed that he now believes the cartel is a central bank.

*OPEC CHIEF: OPEC+ WILL DO ‘WHATEVER IT TAKES’ FOR MARKET BALANCE

Saudis Scramble To Stop Oil Price Slide

Saudis Scramble To Stop Oil Price Slide

oil infra

Saudi Arabia is moving quickly to halt the slide in oil prices, telegraphing a production cut intended to erase some of the re-emerging supply surplus.

Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday that the kingdom would slash oil exports by 500,000 bpd in December, a move that would go a long way to reversing the 1 million-barrel-per-day increase in output agreed to by OPEC+ in June.

It was only a few weeks ago that al-Falih was trying to reassure the market that Saudi Arabia had enough spare capacity in the event of an outage; now he is rushing to try to stop the slide in prices but paring back production.

The production cut would come just after crude oil officially entered bear market territory, falling 20 percent from its October peak.

But it is unclear at this point if the rest of the OPEC+ coalition, including Russia, will join the Saudis. The OPEC-Non-OPEC Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) met over the weekend in Abu Dhabi to consider options for 2019. The group was rumored to be considering a collective production cut, although the meeting ended on Sunday with no firm commitments.

Still, in an official statement, the group seemed open to the idea. The JMMC “noted that 2019 prospects point to higher supply growth than global requirements,” which is another way of saying that they are nervous about a supply glut. Also, the committee stated that a global economic downturn could depress demand, and “could lead to widening gap between supply and demand.” These conditions “may require new strategies to balance the market.” It would seem that the OPEC+ coalition is laying the groundwork for a production cut. The official ministerial meeting in Vienna in early December will reveal much more about the group’s plans heading into 2019.

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

OPEC+ Floats 1 Million Barrel Production Cut After Oil Price Tumbles Into Bear Market

With oil prices entering a bear market last week, tumbling 21% from recent highs as it became clear that Trump will significantly water down Iran oil export sanctions by granting waivers to its 8 largest clients even as US inventory stockpiles are once again rising amid almost weekly records in US oil production, OPEC and its non-OPEC allies – which is pretty much everyone except US shale producers – are starting to sweat, and during today’s meeting in Abu Dhabi they hinted that an oil output cut to limit excess production may be coming.

Speaking to reporters, Oman’s Oil Minister Mohammed Al-Rumhy said that “a number of global producers agree they should pump less oil in 2019, and a reduction of 1 million barrels a day would be a good number” according to Bloomberg. Others echoed his sentiment, floating a range of cutbacks, however the most often cited number was a decrease in output by as much as 1 million barrels a day, roughly the amount of Iranian oil production that is expects to continue flowing thanks to the recent sanction waivers.

“I think probably there is support that right now there is too much oil in the market and stock, inventories are building up,” Al-Rumhy told reporters today in the UAE capital.


Oman min says a 1 million cut would be a good start


Of course, OPEC can not be seen as responding to every political whim in the White House, especially if it will result in higher gasoline prices and an angry Donald Trump, so a technical committee representing the coalition framed the need for a production cut in the context of its projections according to which the global oil surplus – which hit unprecedented levels in 2015 –

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

Saudi Arabia Is Evaluating A Break Up Of OPEC

In potentially groundbreaking news – which failed to generate a market response as it hit at the same time as the FOMC statement – Saudi Arabia’s top government-funded think tank is said to be studying the possible effects on oil markets of a breakup of OPEC, a research effort which the WSJ called “remarkable” for a country that has dominated the oil cartel for nearly 60 years.

The OPEC study aims to “assess the short/medium-term consequences of a dissolution of OPEC,” according to an overview reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. It is intended to determine how the global oil market, and Saudi finances, would look “if coordination between oil producing countries disappear,” according to the overview.

The overview describes two scenarios to investigate, if OPEC isn’t in the picture:

  1. All big oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, act competitively—fighting each other for market share;
  2. Saudi Arabia, instead, attempts to leverage its massive oil output alone to help balance global supply and demand in an attempt to keep oil prices steady—similar to the role that members say OPEC plays today.

The timing of the report, which is hardly a arbitrary, coincides with rising pressures on the Saudi government, including from the U.S., where President Trump has accused the cartel of pushing up oil prices, and from investors who distanced themselves from the kingdom after the brutal killing of a U.S.-based Saudi journalist.

Just as remarkably, while the think tank’s president, Adam Sieminski told the WSJ that the study “hadn’t been triggered by Mr. Trump’s statements”, a senior adviser familiar with the project said it provided an opportunity to take into account the criticism from Washington.

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

WTI Slumps To $61 Handle After US Crude Production Soars To New Record High

Despite sliding after last night’s API-reported big Crude and Cushing build, WTI has rebounded overnight amid a post-midterms tumbling dollar, but a larger crude build than expected from DOE, combined with a smaller gasoline draw, could lead to WTI “set to test $60 easily,” Tariq Zahir, a commodity fund manager at Tyche Capital Advisors, says

Additionally, Oil rose on the back of headlines that OPEC and its allies were said to plan talks on fresh production cuts next year, responding to recent increases in crude inventories amid surging U.S. supply.

“The Saudis want to stop the price decay,” said Giovanni Staunovo, an analyst at UBS Group AG in Zurich.

“There are many moving variables until the OPEC meeting in December, like Iran and U.S. production growth. But as the Saudis say they aim for market stability, if the data suggests an oversupplied market next year the probability of a cut is high.”

However, as Bloomberg notes, if OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, does ultimately decide fresh cutbacks are necessary, it will confront a number of challenges. It will need to once again secure the support of rival-turned-partner Russia, which has less need for high oil prices. There’s also the risk of antagonizing the kingdom’s key geopolitical ally, President Trump.

API

  • Crude +7.831mm (+2mm exp)
  • Cushing +3.073mm (+2.1mm exp)
  • Gasoline -1.195mm
  • Distillates -3.638mm

DOE

  • Crude +5.78mm (+2mm exp)
  • Cushing +2.419mm (+2.1mm exp)
  • Gasoline +1.85mm (-1.7mm exp)
  • Distillates -3.465mm

Crude and Cushing inventories rose for the seventh straight week (considerably more than expected) and a surprise gasoline build, sent WTI prices back below pre-API levels from last night and back to a $61 handle…

 

And as inventories rose, production surged a huge 400k b/d to a new record high…

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

The Untouchable US-Saudi Relation Is a Core Element of US Imperialism

The Untouchable US-Saudi Relation Is a Core Element of US Imperialism

The Untouchable US-Saudi Relation Is a Core Element of US Imperialism

In the last few weeks, numerous articles and analyses have been produced relating to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. However, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States has not been questioned, and the reason for this has not yet been explained.

Nixon’s decision in 1971 to withdraw the United States from the gold standard greatly influenced the future direction of humanity. The US dollar rose in importance from the mid-1950s to become the world reserve currency as a result of the need for countries to use the dollar in trade. One of the most consumed commodities in the world is oil, and as is well known, the price is set by OPEC in US dollars, with this organization being strongly influenced by Saudi Arabia.

It is therefore towards Riyadh that we must look in order to understand the workings of the petrodollar. After the dollar was withdrawn from the gold standard, Washington made an arrangement with Riyadh to price oil solely in dollars. In return, the Saudis received protection and were granted a free hand in the region. This decision forced the rest of the world to hold a high amount of US dollars in their currency reserves, requiring the purchase of US treasuries. The relationship between the US dollar and oil breathed new life to this currency, placing it at the centre of the global financial and economic system. This privileged role enjoyed by the dollar allowed the United States to finance its economy through the simple process of printing its fiat currency, relying on its credibility and supported by the petrodollar that required other countries to store reserves of US treasuries in their basket of currencies.

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

U.S. And OPEC Flood Oil Market Ahead Of Midterms

U.S. And OPEC Flood Oil Market Ahead Of Midterms

Eagle ford rig

OPEC and the U.S. are together adding enormous volumes of new supply, which together have softened the oil market.

In October, OPEC hiked oil production to the highest level since 2016, back before the oil production cuts went into effect, according to a recent Reuters survey. The higher output, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, come just as Iranian oil is going offline. Also, Libya saw a sharp rebound in production, although the country is not part of the OPEC+ production cuts.

The 15 countries in OPEC produced an average 33.31 million barrels per day in October, the highest since December 2016. That was also up 390,000 bpd from September. “Oil producers appear to be successfully offsetting the supply outages from Iran and Venezuela,” said Carsten Fritsch of Commerzbank.

Russia, which is not part of OPEC but part of the OPEC+ coalition, continues to produce at post-Soviet record highs.

Iran lost 100,000 bpd in October, due to buyers cutting back as U.S. sanctions near, but the losses were more modest than many analysts had expected. In fact, despite the hardline rhetoric from Washington, the U.S. is poised to grant waivers to several countries that are unable to cut their imports of Iranian oil to zero.

That was largely predictable. Top importers of Iranian oil, including India, China and Turkey, could not slash their purchases to zero without incurring a significant economic cost. The U.S. pressed these countries, but ultimately had to back down. “We want to achieve maximum pressure but we don’t want to harm friends and allies either,” U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said on Wednesday. He recognized that some “may not be able to go all the way, all the way to zero immediately.” The admission is notable since Bolton is widely known as one of the most extreme hardliners when it comes to Iran.

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

Iran’s Worst Nightmare Is Coming True

Iran’s Worst Nightmare Is Coming True

Refinery

In what must seem like a nightmare scenario for Iran, not only is another U.S. president leveling sanctions against its economy, and particularly that economy’s lifeblood, its oil sector, but the current U.S. president has admittedly made it his mission to drive Tehran to its knees over what he sees as non-compliance over the 2015 nuclear accord between western powers and Tehran.

As recently as the start of this month, the oil markets narrative was that perhaps President Donald Trump had pushed a bit too hard by reimposing sanctions against Iran. Oil markets, for their part, were jittery while both global oil benchmark Brent and U.S. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures hit four-year highs largely on supply concerns. Some predicted that $100 per barrel oil by the end of the year was imminent, while Tehran maintained a defiant tone, stating that neither Saudi Arabia nor OPEC would be able to pump enough oil to compensate for the loss of Iranian barrels, estimated between 500,000 bpd and 1 million bpd.

Now, what a different just a few weeks can make. Oil prices are now trending downward, falling for a third consecutive week as global stock markets tumbled and oil markets focused on a weaker demand outlook for crude going forward. Brent crude fell 2.7 percent last week and is down 10.5 percent from its October 3 high of $86.74. WTI ended the week down some 2.2 percent and has now dropped around 12 percent from its recent high of on October 3. Moreover, in a sign of things to come, hedge-fund and money managers are trimming their bets that crude oil prices will rise.

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

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