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Why Saudi Arabia Will Not Win The Oil Price War

Why Saudi Arabia Will Not Win The Oil Price War

Crude oil prices continued to surprise on Tuesday, with the U.S. benchmark adding another 4 percent to $44.60 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate is now up 65 percent since hitting 13-year lows below $27 a barrel February 11. It’s a performance only bettered by the globe’s second most traded bulk commodity – iron ore.

But like analysts of the steelmaking raw material, many in the industry have been surprised by the extent of the rally, consistently calling the oil price lower. The blame for the cloudy outlook for crude is mostly being laid at the door of Saudi-Arabia.

After the collapse of the Doha talks to freeze production and amid a spat with the U.S. over terrorism, the world’s top producer has threatened a scorched earth policy when it comes to maintaining and growing its market share.

But there is an alternative view out there that argues that the U.S., more than the Saudis, will control the direction of the market and in the event of an all-out price war holds the commanding position.

That’s thanks to astonishing technological improvements in the U.S. The shale revolution that drove natural gas production between 2010 and 2015, found its way into the oil field, resulting in a 57 percent jump in U.S. crude production in just three short years to peak at 9.7 million barrels per day in April 2015.

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Source: Platts Analytics NG Market Call Long Term, NGL Market Call, and Crude Oil Market Call

And it’s not just a crude story: In the last decade, the U.S. has introduced 8.3 MMBoe/d (million barrels of energy equivalent per day) into the global market when one considers production of crude, natural gas and natural gas liquids according to research by Platts Analytics.

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