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Oil Surges On Report China Buying For Strategic Reserve, Hopes For Saudi-Russia Truce

Oil Surges On Report China Buying For Strategic Reserve, Hopes For Saudi-Russia Truce

Oil surged as much as 13% this morning following a report that China is planning to start buying cheap crude for its strategic reserves, as well as speculation that President Trump said he thought Saudi Arabia and Russia would resolve their differences in the oil price war that has sent supply soaring even as global oil demand tumbles.

Following massive builds in crude in the US as reported by the DOE and API, and amid sporadic reports that various storage facilities are starting to fill up:

  • SALDANHA BAY OIL-STORAGE FACILITY SAID TO BE NEAR CAPACITY
  • OIL TANKS AT VITAL AFRICA HUB ALMOST FULL AS CRUDE FLOODS MKT

… overnight, Bloomberg reported that Beijing instructed government agencies to start filling state stockpiles after oil plunged 66% over the first three months of the year, while the global benchmark’s nearest timespread also rallied strongly.

Beijing has asked government agencies to quickly coordinate filling tanks, Bloomberg source said. In addition to state-owned reserves, it may use commercial space for storage as well, while also encouraging companies to fill their own tanks. The initial target is to hold government stockpiles equivalent to 90 days of net imports, which could eventually be expanded to as much as 180 days when including commercial reserves.

According to Bloomberg calculations, 90 days of net crude imports translated to about 900 million barrels. By comparison, the U.S. currently holds about 635 million barrels in its Strategic Petroleum Reserve, according to government data.

And while the current size of China’s state reserves is unknown, and Beijing could use a different method for calculating net imports, oil traders and analysts at SIA Energy and Wood Mackenzie estimated it could amount to China buying an additional 80 million to 100 million barrels over the course of the year before it ran into logistical and operational constraints.

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

WTI Extends Losses After Biggest Crude Build Since 2016

WTI Extends Losses After Biggest Crude Build Since 2016

After its worst quarter ever, as COVID-19 lockdowns crushed demand, raising fears about overflowing storage tanks amid a price war that has flooded the market with extra supply, all eyes are glued to today’s official inventory data (after API reported a major surprise build in crude and gasoline stocks) as Standard Chartered analysts, including Emily Ashford warned in a report, oil tanks around the world could fill in six weeks, a move that will likely force significant production shut-downs,

“Huge inventory builds, potentially exhausting spare storage capacity, will mean that market balance requires an unprecedented output shutdown by producers,” they wrote.

So, eyes down…

“There is the very real possibility that this week’s storage reports could be the energy patch version of last Thursday’s Weekly Jobless Claims,” Robert Yawger, Mizuho Securities USA’s director of energy said in a note.

“I would expect the numbers to be supersized and challenge multi-year highs/lows on multiple data points. Of course, I have been expecting big numbers for the past couple week, but the fireworks have not happened. That leads me to believe that the data explosion will likely happen this week … Exports will likely be down big, and refinery utilization will likely pull back dramatically. That will leave a lot of crude oil on the sidelines … EIA crude oil storage has been higher for nine weeks in a row. Storage will likely double up and increase at the rate of around 10 million for another nine weeks…at least.”

API

  • Crude +10.485mm (+4.6mm exp) – biggest build since Feb 2017
  • Cushing +2.926mm – biggest build since Feb 2019
  • Gasoline +6.058mm (+3.6mm exp) – biggest build since Jan 2020
  • Distillates -4.458mm (-600k exp)

DOE

  • Crude +13.833mm (+4.6mm exp) – biggest since Oct 2016
  • Cushing +3.521mm – biggest build since Mar 2018
  • Gasoline +7.524mm (+3.6mm exp) – biggest build since Jan 2020
  • Distillates -2.194mm (-600k exp)

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

‘Texas Miracle’ “On Ice For Time Being” As Crude-Carnage & COVID-Chaos Double-Whammy Strikes Lone-Star State

‘Texas Miracle’ “On Ice For Time Being” As Crude-Carnage & COVID-Chaos Double-Whammy Strikes Lone-Star State

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) spot prices plunged 7.5% to the 19-handle on Sunday evening, hitting lows not seen since 2002. 

WTI has crashed 70% in the last 56 trading sessions amid the COVID-19 crisis triggering a demand bust across the world. As a result, an economic storm risks triggering a shale debt bomb in Texas, jeopardizing the state’s $1.8 trillion economy and may damage crude output from the Permian basin that has more than quadrupled in a decade.

In three weeks’ time, Saudi Arabia and Russia launched an oil price war that has sent WTI prices tumbling 57% and now risks imminent doom for US shale (and its junk bonds). More specifically, Texas accounts for 42% of US crude output and has been hit with twin shocks: one from waning crude demand, and another from the COVID-19 outbreak forcing the state to issue a “stay at home” public health order – restricting the travel of residents.

The collapse in oil prices this time around is more unique than past ones, mostly because demand has evaporated overnight due to a pandemic with no clear timetables of when it will return. A major concern for producers is that the recovery might not be V-shape… 

 “As much a tragedy as the coronavirus is, most states are dealing with one problem. Texas is dealing with two because we’re dealing with coronavirus and the dramatic drop in oil and gas prices,” Dale Craymer, president of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association and a former state budget director, told Financial Times.

Plains All-American, a pipeline company, was offering WTI per barrel for $17.50 on Friday, a drastic discount from $63 in January. Drillers need about $49 per barrel to stay profitable, a prolonged downturn under $40 for several years could bankrupt 40% of all US shale.  

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

After Worst Quarter Ever, WTI Extends Losses On Massive Crude & Gasoline Build

After Worst Quarter Ever, WTI Extends Losses On Massive Crude & Gasoline Build

After its worst quarter ever, as COVID-19 lockdowns crushed demand, raising fears about overflowing storage tanks amid a price war that has flooded the market with extra supply, all eyes are glued to new inventory data as Standard Chartered analysts, including Emily Ashford warned in a report, oil tanks around the world could fill in six weeks, a move that will likely force significant production shut-downs,

“Huge inventory builds, potentially exhausting spare storage capacity, will mean that market balance requires an unprecedented output shutdown by producers,” they wrote.

So, eyes down…

“There is the very real possibility that this week’s storage reports could be the energy patch version of last Thursday’s Weekly Jobless Claims,” Robert Yawger, Mizuho Securities USA’s director of energy said in a note.

“I would expect the numbers to be supersized and challenge multi-year highs/lows on multiple data points. Of course, I have been expecting big numbers for the past couple week, but the fireworks have not happened. That leads me to believe that the data explosion will likely happen this week … Exports will likely be down big, and refinery utilization will likely pull back dramatically. That will leave a lot of crude oil on the sidelines … EIA crude oil storage has been higher for nine weeks in a row. Storage will likely double up and increase at the rate of around 10 million for another nine weeks…at least.”

API

  • Crude +10.485mm (+4.6mm exp) – biggest build since Feb 2017
  • Cushing +2.926mm – biggest build since Feb 2019
  • Gasoline +6.058mm (+3.6mm exp) – biggest build since Jan 2020
  • Distillates -4.458mm (-600k exp)

While analysts expected the trend of crude builds to continues they unexpectedly saw a gasoline inventory build last week – bucking the 8-week trend of draws… and it with a huge crude and gasoline build last week

Source: Bloomberg

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

“This Is The Largest Economic Shock Of Our Lifetimes”: Goldman Sees Negative Prices Amid Oil Devastation

“This Is The Largest Economic Shock Of Our Lifetimes”: Goldman Sees Negative Prices Amid Oil Devastation

Over the weekend, we reported that with the oil industry oversupplied by a mindblowing 20 million barrels daily as roughly 20% of total global output ends up unused in a world economy that has ground to a halt, and instead has to be parked in storage either on land or sea, the unthinkable is about to happen: oil storage space is about to run out, and as that happens the price of oil will continue sliding ever lower and lower until it finally goes negative as some such as Mizuho’s Paul Sankey predict it will, over the next few months, leading to an unprecedented shockwave across the global energy market.

Then overnight, more eulogies for the oil market emerged, with Bank of America writing that oil has now slumped “into the abyss” and it expects to see the “steepest decline in global oil consumption ever recorded, with our base case reflecting a 12mn b/d drop in 2Q20 and a 4.5mn b/d contraction on average for the year” and on a net basis, BofA now expects global oil demand to contract by almost 17mn b/d in April with consumption recovering modestly into 3Q20 and beyond.

The bank also adjusted its oil price forecasts for 2020 and 2021 down to $37 and $45/bbl for Brent and to $32 and $42/bbl for WTI respectively, but in the near-term, it sees both benchmarks temporarily trading in the teens in the coming weeks.

However, by going all “there will be blood” on oil, BofA has only caught up where Goldman has been for the past two weeks, ever since it predicted that the “physical end was near.” Meanwhile, in a note of unprecedented gloom, Goldman now says that “the physical end is here” as the coronacrisis goes global.

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

The World Is Awash in Oil, False Assurances, Magical Thinking and Complacency as Global Demand Careens Toward a Cliff

The World Is Awash in Oil, False Assurances, Magical Thinking and Complacency as Global Demand Careens Toward a Cliff

This collapse of price will manifest in all sorts of markets that are based on debt-funded purchases of desires rather than a warily prudent priority on needs.

Since markets are supposed to discover the price of excesses and scarcities, it’s a mystery why everything that is in oversupply is still grossly overpriced as global demand slides off a cliff: oil, semiconductors, Uber rides, AirBNB listings and many other risk-on / global growth stories are still priced as if pre-Covid-19 demand was still guaranteed.

Punters are still buying semiconductor stocks based on out-of-touch projections that are the equivalent to counting the number of fairies on the head of a pin, ignoring the fundamental reality that very few people actually need a new mobile phone, vehicle, laptop, refrigerator, etc.

It boils down to confidence and certainty. People pursue what they desire but don’t need when they’re brimming with confidence in the future, bolstered by an animal-spirits euphoria that their income and wealth will continue rising–a sense of certainty anchored by a belief that their economic world is essentially without risk.

When confidence dissipates and is replaced by fear and uncertainty, desires lose their luster and needs take precedence. When you’re afraid of getting a deadly virus or losing your livelihood, status symbols and frivolous spending no longer top the agenda.

Yet the entire risk-on / global growth story is based entirely on desires not needs. The vast majority of demand isn’t for a pressing need, it’s for euphoric aspirational consumption, spending intended to make the buyer larger than they really are, in their own self-image and in the image they present to the world in the brands they display, the cafes they dine in, etc. etc.

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

Garbage-In, Garbage-Out – Uncertainty Goes Viral As Baltic Dry Crashes Near All-Time Low

Garbage-In, Garbage-Out – Uncertainty Goes Viral As Baltic Dry Crashes Near All-Time Low

Uncertainty

Let’s revisit the chart from Friday’s T-Report where we examine stocks, bonds, and oil.

Oil Didn’t Buy into the Bounce

At the start of the week, stocks retraced all of their coronavirus losses, but treasuries only retraced a portion and commodities in general (oil specifically), barely budged.

With high levels of uncertainty and stocks near all time highs, the risk/reward seems skewed in favor of being prudent.  There is nothing to stop stocks from making new, even greater highs but as the official death toll of the coronavirus surpasses SARS and much of China is in lockdown while the virus continues to spread globally, it is difficult to be risk-on at the moment.

On a subjective basis, it seems like Wall Street was fixated on coronavirus long before it gained mainstream attention, which might mean we haven’t started to see retail’s reaction to increasing media coverage of coronavirus.

Garbage In, Garbage Out – The Problem with Existing Data

Garbage In, Garbage Out (or GIGO) is an important concept that warns against taking too seriously the results of any calculation or thesis based on low quality data.

As of Sunday morning, the Johns Hopkins dashboard that I’ve been using states that there have been 37,592 confirmed cases with 814 deaths and 2,920 recoveries.

It is tempting to use this data as being highly accurate.  37,592 confirmed cases seems pretty accurate, as opposed to giving a range of 35,000 to 40,000 but do they really have such precise information?  I suspect that the “precision” of the counts implies a much higher degree of certainty around the numbers than there actually is.  Rather than trying to work with the data today, I’ll highlight what I think the biggest risks are to using this data.

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

How Much Human Labor Equals One Gallon Of Gasoline?

How Much Human Labor Equals One Gallon Of Gasoline?

Most people are amazed to discover the enormous amount of energy contained in a gallon of gasoline.  However, this isn’t surprising because the public seems to take for granted the ENERGY that drives the entire economy, especially oil.  And, oil is the most crucial energy supply vital for our Just-In-Time-Inventory-Supply-Chain System.  Without oil, the entire global economy would grind to a halt.

In my recent video, The Tremendous Hidden Value In Every Silver Coin, I discussed why the precious metals act as a store of “Energy Equivalent Value.” While many people may disagree with this analysis, our complex economy is nothing more than the trading of energy, in one form (goods) or another (services).

Here’s an example.  Skechers USA, which sells footwear, enjoyed a 7% margin of profit in the first three quarters of 2019.  The company reported $287 million of net income on $3,889 million in revenues.  Thus, the total cost of Skecher’s footwear was 93%.  While the public is purchasing shoes made by Skechers, I can assure you that the overwhelming majority of the cost was associated with the ENERGY consumed in the entire process.  Energy also includes the amount of Human Labor, Materials, Capital Expenditure, etc.  Why?  Because the materials used in Skecher’s shoes were a result of the tremendous amount of energy in all forms and stages in the manufacture of the materials.

So, when someone plops down $75 to purchase a pair of shoes, the overwhelming majority of that price is a result of all the ENERGY consumed in all forms and all stages.  Thus, our ECONOMY is nothing more than the trading of energy… that ends up in one form (goods) or another (services).

How the US Wages War to Prop up the Dollar

map

How the US Wages War to Prop up the Dollar

At Counterpunch, Michael Hudson has penned an important article that outlines the important connections between US foreign policy, oil, and the US dollar.

In short, US foreign policy is geared very much toward controlling oil resources as part of a larger strategy to prop up the US dollar. Hudson writes:

The assassination was intended to escalate America’s presence in Iraq to keep control of the region’s oil reserves, and to back Saudi Arabia’s Wahabi troops (Isis, Al Quaeda in Iraq, Al Nusra and other divisions of what are actually America’s foreign legion) to support U.S. control of Near Eastern oil as a buttress of the U.S. dollar. That remains the key to understanding this policy, and why it is in the process of escalating, not dying down.

The actual context for the neocon’s action was the balance of payments, and the role of oil and energy as a long-term lever of American diplomacy.

Basically, the US’s propensity for driving up massive budget deficits has created a need for immense amounts of deficit spending. This can be handled through selling lots of government debt, or through monetizing the debt. But what if there isn’t enough global demand for US debt? That would mean the US would have to pay more interest on its debt. Or, the US could monetize the debt through the central bank. But that might cause the value of the dollar to crash. So, the US regime realized that it must find ways to prevent the glut of dollars and debt from actually destroying the value of the dollar. Fortunately for the regime, this can be partly managed, it turns out, through foreign policy. Hudson continues:

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

Haftar Blocks All Libyan Oil Exports Day Before Berlin Peace Conference

Haftar Blocks All Libyan Oil Exports Day Before Berlin Peace Conference

Given Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar has over the past two years captured the majority of the oil and gas rich country’s energy producing regions, he’s now playing his biggest card yet to leverage international peace talks in his favor amid a final push for his Libyan National Army (LNA) forces to take Tripoli. 

Bloomberg reports Saturday that the Benghazi-based ‘rebel’ general has now “blocked oil exports at ports under his control, slashing output by more than half and posing a potential setback for an international conference on Sunday that aims to broker an end to a civil war in the OPEC nation.”

Image source: AP via Oilandgaspeople.com

The major talks Sunday are due to be held in Berlin, and a who’s who of external backers of each side of the conflict will be in attendance, including Putin, Erdogan, France’s Macron, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as the Italian prime minister and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Berlin conference comes after a failed deal to establish a ceasefire in Moscow earlier in the week, when Haftar left the city after the head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, Fayez al-Sarraj, actually signed the agreement. Haftar also reportedly secretly scuttled to different Mediterranean capitals, including Athens, in a bid to gain recognition as legitimate leader on the ground.

Haftar’s drastic move to block oil exports is likely aimed at torpedoing the Berlin meeting before it even starts, given he’s proven intransigent in the face of international pressure for him to halt the ongoing Tripoli offensive — even during the talks hosted by one of his key political backers Vladimir Putin. 

Libya’s National Oil Corp. (NOC) has now declared Force Majeure, per Bloomberg:

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

Permafrost will limit natural gas, oil, and coal extraction

Permafrost will limit natural gas, oil, and coal extraction

Preface. For many people, it’s comforting to know that about 25% of remaining oil and gas reserves (we have the know-how and economics to get it) and resources (beyond our technical and monetary capability) are in the arctic. They assume we’ll get this oil and gas when we need to, and delay oil shortages for a decade or more.

But  they haven’t considered the difficulties of trying to drill for oil and gas or mine coal in permafrost.  It buckles roads, airports, buildings, pipelines, and any other structures placed on top.

A Greenpeace report published in 2009 said thawing soil in Russia’s permafrost zones caused buildings, bridges and pipelines to deform and collapse, costing up to 1.3 billion euros (nearly $1.5 billion) a year in repairs in western Siberia.

Although there are ways to build roads that can withstand melting and freezing permafrost for a while, it is terribly expensive, and it is why we haven’t developed much oil or natural gas in Alaska besides Prudhoe Bay, as far north as you can get, with fewer permafrost issues.

The cost and energy of production in permafrost may mean that reserves are much less than estimated.  Especially if they are developed when oil production begins to decline, since the price and declining availability of oil will mean there’s less energy to build roads, towns, platforms for drilling rigs and oil pipelines. And for agriculture, transportation supply chains, and all the other myriad ways oil and gas keep us alive.

As it is, climate change continues to exceed past engineering standards, and every year Alaska and Canada spend millions of dollars trying to fix roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.

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

Living On Borrowed Time

Living On Borrowed Time

How soon until the consequences of our excesses catch up with us?

The laws of physics are governed by cause and effect. But there can exist a time lag between the two.

For instance:

Note how the speed of both the bullet and the retracting latex far exceed that of the shockwave or gravity on the water contained inside each balloon.

There’s an observable time lag during which the globe of previously-contained water momentarily hangs there in space.

Then, a beat later, it’s obliterated.

Living On Borrowed Time

I’m unusually focused on time these days as we’re updating Peak Prosperity’s crown jewel, The Crash Coursevideo series.

Originally created in 2008 and updated in 2014, it lays out the macro forces driving the economy and our way of living, explaining why most of them are unsustainable and headed for trouble. That then opens the door to an avalanche of critical questioning about what the future will bring.

Updating the parade of charts and data has been eye-opening for me. When I last did this (early 2014), the S&P had just returned to the same price level that served as the apex for both the 2001 and 2008 market bubbles.

I remember how concerned I was then. How could we have returned to such reckless exuberance so quickly after the pain caused by the Dot-com bust and the Great Financial Crisis? Did we learn nothing from our previous (and recent!) excess?

Clearly not only did we not learn; we didn’t give a crap. With a “hold my beer, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet” bravado, we proceeded to DOUBLE the S&P above the previous bubble highs.

Here at PeakProsperity.com, my co-founder Chris Martenson and I have spilled a lot of ink in the ensuing years, warning how QE (aka central bank money printing), stock buybacks, and record low interest rates have pushed the degree of systemic unsustainability to Bizzaro-world levels. For our most recent analysis, click herehere and here.

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

Shale’s Debt-Fueled Drilling Boom Is Coming To An End

Shale’s Debt-Fueled Drilling Boom Is Coming To An End

Marcellus shale

The financial struggles of the U.S. shale industry are becoming increasingly hard to ignore, but drillers in Appalachia are in particularly bad shape.

The Permian has recently seen job losses, and for the first time since 2016, the hottest shale basin in the world has seen job growth lag the broader Texas economy. The industry is cutting back amid heightened financial scrutiny from investors, as debt-fueled drilling has become increasingly hard to justify.

But E&P companies focused almost exclusively on gas, such as those in the Marcellus and Utica shales, are in even worse shape. An IEEFA analysis found that seven of the largest producers in Appalachia burned through about a half billion dollars in the third quarter.

Gas production continues to rise, but profits remain elusive. “Despite booming gas output, Appalachian oil and gas companies consistently failed to produce positive cash flow over the past five quarters,” the authors of the IEEFA report said.

Of the seven companies analyzed, five had negative cash flow, including Antero Resources, Chesapeake Energy, EQT, Range Resources, and Southwestern Energy. Only Cabot Oil & Gas and Gulfport Energy had positive cash flow in the third quarter.

The sector was weighed down but a sharp drop in natural gas prices, with Henry Hub off by 18 percent compared to a year earlier. But the losses are highly problematic. After all, we are more than a decade into the shale revolution and the industry is still not really able to post positive cash flow. Worse, these are not the laggards; these are the largest producers in the region.

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

Art Berman: Houston, We Have A Problem

Art Berman: Houston, We Have A Problem

The surplus energy that powers the world is declining

Every week in our Off The Cuff Series, we interview expert minds on the premium side of PeakProsperity.com. These discussions are unscripted and informal, where my partner Chris Martenson and his guest react to recent macro developments and predict the likeliest repercussions.

Every once in while, when we have an exceptionally timely conversation, we’ll make it available to the public. And we’re doing that this week.

Chris caught petroleum geologist Art Berman right before he went on stage to deliver a presentation on the limitations of shale oil (his excellent slides can be found here). The world is finally starting to realize that the profit-making potential of this space was drastically over-hyped.

But more important, warns Art, is that the souring sentiment on shale oil is a reflection on the bigger challenge ahead of us: How we will power the world in a future of declining net energy?

When we reflect upon the material progress of humankind over the hundred and fifty years, it seems very clear to me that much, if not most, of it happened because humankind moved basically from wood to coal to oil/natural gas. To increasingly more dense sources of energy.

And the result is that we get a whole lot more work out of whatever energy we expend. Less and less of that is done by manual labor.

Everything works to live. Look at the African savanna: it’s all about energy. The animals spend all day long getting food one way or another.  That’s the way life on earth works.

But not so much for us, because we’re fortunate — we humans have all this fossil energy at our disposal. You and I can sit and chat on Skype here without having to do very much.

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

The Top 5 Ways We Use Oil & Gas

The Top 5 Ways We Use Oil & Gas

Petchem

If climate change and the use of fossil fuels is starting to worry you, consider this: The lion’s share of the petroleum in the United States is being used just to get around–to get people and things from point A to point B. 

Industrial, residential, commercial and electrical power usage of petroleum pales in comparison.   

Fossil fuels–which include crude oil and other liquids–are refined into petroleum products for a multitude of uses, and last year, the United States consumed over 20 million barrels per day. 

A whopping 69 percent of that was consumed by transportation. Industry, which the masses like to villainize most in terms of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, used only 25 percent. Residential usage accounted for only 3 percent of our petroleum consumption, and commercial, only 2 percent. 

What about electricity? American electricity generation used only 1 percent of those petroleum products. 

Source: EIA

So, for anyone looking to pinpoint where we need to start cheerleading for renewables or fossil-fuels shaming, here are the top 5 uses of petroleum products to help redirect the debate: 

#5 Oceans of Plastic: Still Gas, 0.703M BPD

While primarily referring to methane and ethane, “still gas” is any form or mixture of gases produced in refineries by distillation, cracking, reforming, and other processes. That means it also includes ethylene, normal butane, butylenes, propane, propylene, and others. 

It’s used most as refinery fuel or petrochemical feedstock. 

The conversion factor is 6 million Btus per fuel oil equivalent barrel.

U.S. refineries burned nearly 240 million barrels of still gas in 2018. 

But petrochemicals are one of the largest drivers of global oil demand, so it’s a circular competition here for still gas. 

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

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