Looking at the future of oil prices, Goldman was downright apocalyptic in its short-term forecast, when in a note published this morning, the bank’s chief commodity strategist Jeffrey Currie speculated that as the current production glut “shock” cripples the crude transportation networks, “a producer would be willing to pay someone to dispose of a barrel, implying negative pricing in landlocked areas.” To wit:
The global economy is a complex physical system with physical frictions, and energy sits near the top of that complexity. It is impossible to shut down that much demand without large and persistent ramifications to supply. The one thing that separates energy from other commodities is that it must be contained within its production infrastructure, which for oil includes pipelines, ships, terminals, storage facilities, refineries, and distribution networks. All of which have relatively small and limited spare capacity. We estimate that the world has around a billion barrels of spare storage capacity, but much of that will never be accessed as the velocity of the current shock will breach crude transportation networks first, which we are already seeing evidence of around the world. Indeed, given the cost of shutting down a well, a producer would be willing to pay someone to dispose of a barrel, implying negative pricing in landlocked areas.
A quick look at two of the most popular landlocked oil producing areas demonstrate that Goldman is spot on, and as the following chart shows as of this moment Texas Midland WTI was trading at just baove $10/barrel, while the price of oil produced in the notoriously landlocked Western Canada, as represented by Canada Western Selected index, was just above $4 per barrel, or a little more than what a gallon of gas costs in California.