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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.”


  • 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)


  • 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 Or Canada: Where Will Oil Hit $0 First

Texas Or Canada: Where Will Oil Hit $0 First

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.

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

The Unthinkable Is Happening: Oil Storage Space Is About To Run Out

The Unthinkable Is Happening: Oil Storage Space Is About To Run Out

In the past three weeks, oil plunged and has continued to plunge even more in the aftermath of the oil price war declared between Saudi Arabia and Russia, and where US shale (and its junk bonds) has been caught in the crossfire. However, as we reported last week, we may get to the absurd point when the price of a barrel of oil not only hits $0 but goes negative.

The reason: according to Mizuho’s Paul Sankey, at a whopping 15MM b/d in oversupply, crude prices could go negative as Saudi and Russian barrels enter the market. According to Sankey, much of the US 4MM bpd in crude exports will be curtailed as prices fall and tanker rates soar. And with US storage roughly 50% full, and able to take another 135MM bbl more, assuming a build rate of 2MM b/d, the US can add 14MM bbl/week for 10 weeks until full.

As a result, there is a now race between filling storage and negative pricing “unless U.S. decline rates can outpace inventory builds, which we very much doubt.” Said otherwise, absent dramatic changes, in roughly 3 months, energy merchants will be paying you if you generously take a couple million barrels of crude off their hands.

It went from bad to an outright disaster earlier this week when Goldman, Vitol, and the IEA all raised their estimate for daily oil oversupply to an unthinkable 20 million barrels per day, as a result of the collapse in oil demand as the global economy grinds to a halt coupled with Saudi Arabia’s determination to put all of its higher-cost OPEC peers out of business.

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

What Happens If Oil Prices Go Negative?

What Happens If Oil Prices Go Negative?

Oil Price War

Various reports hit the news feeds today quoting a deliberately headline-grabbing statement by Paul Sankey, managing director at Mizuho Securities, in which he is reported as saying, “Oil prices can go negative.” That is, they could as a combination of Saudi Arabia (and Russia) flooding the market with increased oil and the market running headlong into COVID-19-induced curtailment of activity that is suppressing consumption, which combined will create the perfect storm of excess supply.

In reality, inventory levels are already rising.

CNN quotes Sankey, who said global oil demand is only around 100 million barrels per day.

However, the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could crash demand by up to 20 percent.

This would create a 20 million barrel-per-day surplus of oil in the market that would rapidly exceed storage capacity, forcing oil producers to pay customers to buy the commodity – hence, in effect, negative oil prices.

The American government plans to purchase a total of 77 million barrels of oil starting within weeks the article states, but according to Sankey, this can only be done at a rate of 2 million barrels per day, leaving a massive excess that will be looking for a home.

Brent oil prices have already fallen to the lowest level for 17 years. The consequences for the U.S. oil industry if a coronavirus-induced recession drives down demand could be catastrophic.

West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) collapsed by a staggering 19.2 percent to $22 while the Mexican Basket is down 22.4 percent.

For a short while, hedges will protect producers and they will continue to pump oil. While that will protect producers for a while, it encourages counter-cyclical practices; producers should be cutting back but instead will probably continue to pump and ship into store.

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

The Inevitable Outcome Of The Oil Price War

The Inevitable Outcome Of The Oil Price War

Putin MBS

One might reasonably posit that when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) signalled that Saudi Arabia was once again going to produce oil to the maximum to crash oil prices in a full-scale oil price war, Russian President Vladimir Putin probably fell off the horse he was riding bare-chested somewhere in Siberia because he was laughing so much. There is a phrase in Russian intelligence circles for clueless people that are ruthlessly used without their knowledge in covert operations, which is ‘a useful idiot’, and it is hard to think of anyone more ‘useful’ in this context to the Russians than whoever came up with Saudi’s latest ‘plan’. Whichever way the oil price war pans out, Russia wins.

In purely basic oil economics terms, Russia has a budget breakeven price of US$40 per barrel of Brent this year: Saudi’s is US$84. Russia can produce over 11 million barrels per day (mbpd) of oil without figuratively breaking sweat; Saudi’s average from 1973 to right now is just over 8 mbpd. Russia’s major oil producer, Rosneft, has been begging President Putin to allow it to produce and sell more oil since the OPEC+ arrangement was first agreed in December 2016; Saudi’s major oil producer, Aramco, only suffers value-destruction in such a scenario. This includes for those people who were sufficiently trusting of MbS to buy shares in Aramco’s recent IPO. Russia can cope with oil prices as low as US$25 per barrel from a budget and foreign asset reserves perspective for up to 10 years; Saudi can manage 2 years at most.

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

Oil Plunges To 17 Year Low As One Bank Predicts Negative Prices

Oil Plunges To 17 Year Low As One Bank Predicts Negative Prices

Late on Tuesday, WTI plunged as low as $26.20 taking out the lows from the 2015/2016 oil recession, and sending it to a level last seen when US president was George W. Bush, people were listening to Get Busy by Sean Paul and Dogville was one of the most popular movies: May 2003.

While there was no immediately clear catalyst, earlier in the day, Goldman’s commodities team published a report in which they discuss the need for commodity prices to drop below cash costs to generate supply curtailments as demand losses across the complex are now unprecedented, as Goldman now believes oil use is down an unprecedented 8 million b/d: 

Large commitments from core-OPEC for April/May deliveries pushes the net supply increase near c.3m b/d, which, when combined with the demand losses, results in an April/May surplus of 7mb/d, which will likely breach system capacity during 2Q20.

As Goldman’s Jeffrey Currie wrote, “the system strain creates a physical end, even though when COVID-19 will end is unknown, pushing our forecasts to shut-in economics. We now forecast 3m GSCI -25%.” As a result of price wars in oil and gas and uncertain policy responses in bulks and base metals, all a direct result of the sharp fall in demand resulting from the COVID-19 containment measures, Goldman has cut its 2Q Brent price target to just $20/bbl from $30/bbl. 

But that was not the worst of it for what little is left of oil bulls.

Outdoing not only Goldman, but virtually every single bearish oil analyst in existence, Mizuho’s Paul Sankey not only estimated that Goldman is too optimistic by half, calculating a whopping 15MM b/d in oversupply currently, but that crude prices could go negative – yes, as in you would be paid to take delivery – as Saudi and Russian barrels enter the market. 

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

How black swans are shaping planet panic

How black swans are shaping planet panic

A case can be made that the current financial panic will only subside when the ultimate black swan – Covid-19 – is contained. 

Is the planet under the spell of a pair of black swans – a Wall Street meltdown, caused by an alleged oil war between Russia and the House of Saud, plus the uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 – leading to an all-out “cross-asset pandemonium” as billed by Nomura?   

Or, as German analyst Peter Spengler suggests, whatever the averted climax in the Strait of Hormuz has not brought about so far “might now come through market forces”?

Let’s start with what really happened after five hours of relatively polite discussions last Friday in Vienna. What turned into a de facto OPEC+ meltdown was quite the game-changing plot twist.

OPEC+ includes Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Essentially, after enduring years of OPEC price-fixing – the result of relentless US pressure over Saudi Arabia – while patiently rebuilding its foreign exchange reserves, Moscow saw the perfect window of opportunity to strike, targeting the US shale industry.

Shares of some of these US producers plunged as much as 50% on “Black Monday.” They simply cannot survive with a barrel of oil in the $30s – and that’s where this is going. After all these companies are drowning in debt. 

A $30 barrel of oil has to be seen as a precious gift/stimulus package for a global economy in turmoil – especially from the point of view of oil importers and consumers. This is what Russia made possible.

And the stimulus may last for a while. Russia’s National Wealth Fund has made it clear it has enough reserves (over $150 billion) to cover a budget deficit from six to ten years – even with oil at $25 a barrel. Goldman Sachs has already gamed a possible Brent crude at $20 a barrel.

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

Only 5 Shale Drillers Are Still Profitable At $31 Oil

Only 5 Shale Drillers Are Still Profitable At $31 Oil


Most shale oil wells drilled in the United States are unprofitable at current oil prices, Rystad Energy has warned. The Norwegian consultancy said, as quoted by Bloomberg, that drilling new wells would be loss-making for more than 100 companies.

Just five shale drillers—Exxon, Chevron, Occidental, and Crownquest—can drill new wells at a profit at $31 per barrel of West Texas Intermediate.

The problem is the nature of shale oil wells: while quick to start production and expand it, they are also quick to run out of oil, so drillers need to keep drilling new ones to maintain production, which is what U.S. shale patch players have been doing for years. However, this has affected investor returns, Bloomberg notes, and now it is affecting spending plans.

“Companies should not be burning capital to be keeping the production base at an unsustainable level,” Tom Loughrey from shale oil data company Friezo Loughrey Oil Well Partners LLC told Bloomberg. “This is swing production — and that means you’re going to have to swing down.”

The situation is more positive for drilled but uncompleted wells, according to Rystad. The consultancy said yesterday that as much as 80 percent of DUCs in the U.S. shale patch have a breakeven price of less than $25 per barrel of WTI. Yet this is dangerously close to current prices.

If nobody blinks in this supply war, prices may have to go this low in order to properly reduce production and get supply-demand back in balance,” Rystad’s head of shale research, Artem Abramov, said in the news release.

“This could turn out to be one of the greatest shocks ever faced by the oil industry, as coronavirus containment measures will add to the headache of producers fighting for market share. And OPEC has clearly stated that it won’t be coming to the rescue in the second quarter of 2020,” he also said. 

“Calamity”: Nomura Warns Or VaR Shock Adding To “Untradeable Markets”

“Calamity”: Nomura Warns Or VaR Shock Adding To “Untradeable Markets”

Over the weekend, in our initial response to the shocking Saudi “scorched earth” price war declaration, we said that “once Brent craters on Monday to the mid-$30s or lower, the accompanying implosion in 10Y yields could make the record plunge in yields seen on Friday a dress rehearsal for what could be the biggest VaR shock of all time.

Sure enough, among the many panic touchpoint on Monday morning which have seen virtually every risk market in persistent liquidation, Nomura’s Charlie McElligott writes that the fresh VaR shock is adding to “undtradeable markets” as the crude price shock adds to cross-asset VaR-down as traders are forced to liquidate a substantial portion of their long books; Amid the chaos, Fed Funds futures are pricing 100bps of cuts by end of month, with systematic/CTA models showing Nasdaq is set to sell/deleverage large dollar notional from what was the last of the legacy “+100% Longs” in Equities, with McElligott warning that this “probable Nasdaq puke comes at a dangerous seasonal for “Momentum” factor, where April is the worst monthly return for the factor back to ’84.

* * *

Taking a step back, it all started with oil, and specifically the start of the Saudi price war, which sent Brent and WTI -31% in last night’s reopen, both currently trading around -20.0%.

Why such an “outsized” move in Crude? As the Nomura quant explains, adding to what we already said about the commodity’s forced selling threat, “crude is particularly exposed to “Negative Gamma” shocks due the inherent and massive “Commercial” nature of (downside) hedgers in the space—so on top of already being an illiquid mess in the futures contract, then imagine being a market maker who has sold Puts to major E&Ps and was already staring into the abyss after the last two weeks’ -25% move…now having to sell futures deep in-the-hole of the reopen gap lower last night/today.

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

Saudi Arabia Starts All-Out Oil War: MbS Destroys OPEC By Flooding Market, Slashing Oil Prices

Saudi Arabia Starts All-Out Oil War: MbS Destroys OPEC By Flooding Market, Slashing Oil Prices

With the commodity world still smarting from the Nov 2014 Saudi decision to (temporarily) break apart OPEC, and flood the market with oil in (failed) hopes of crushing US shale producers (who survived thanks to generous banks extending loan terms and even more generous buyers of junk bonds), which nonetheless resulted in a painful manufacturing recession as the price of Brent cratered as low as the mid-$20’s in late 2015/early 2016, on Saturday, Saudi Arabia launched its second scorched earth, or rather scorched oil campaign in 6 years. And this time there will be blood.

Following Friday’s shocking collapse of OPEC+, when Russia and Riyadh were unable to reach an agreement during the OPEC+ summit in Vienna which was seeking up to 1.5 million b/d in further oil production cuts, on Saturday Saudi Arabia kick started what Bloomberg called an all-out oil war, slashing official pricing for its crude and making the deepest cuts in at least 20 years on its main grades, in an effort to push as many barrels into the market as possible.

In the first major marketing decision since the meeting, the Saudi state producer Aramco, which successfully IPOed just before the price of oil cratered…

… launched unprecedented discounts and cut its April pricing for crude sales to Asia by $4-$6 a barrel and to the U.S. by a whopping $7 a barrel in attempts to steal market share from 3rd party sources, according to a copy of the announcement seen by Bloomberg. In the most significant move, Aramco widened the discount for its flagship Arab Light crude to refiners in north-west Europe by a hefty $8 a barrel, offering it at $10.25 a barrel under the Brent benchmark. 

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

“No Deal In Sight” – Oil Plunges After Russia Rejects Additional OPEC+ Cut

“No Deal In Sight” – Oil Plunges After Russia Rejects Additional OPEC+ Cut

Brent crude futures tumbled by more than 4% on Friday after Reuters reported that Russia had rejected steep production cuts by OPEC to prop up oil prices amid the Covid-19 outbreak triggering demand shocks in China and across the world. 

A high-level Russian source told Reuters that Moscow has no interest in backing an OPEC reduction that calls for extended cuts and would only agree to existing cuts that OPEC already agreed on. 

OPEC has held several days of talks in Vienna, Austria, backing an additional 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd). However, it has failed to bring Russia on board. OPEC wants non-OPEC to contribute 500,000 bpd to the overall cut. The new deal would mean OPEC+ would cut a total of 3.6 million bpd, a move that would hopefully lead to a rebalancing in the global oil market in the second half of the year. On Russain disappointment, Brent crude futures dropped to its lowest level since July 2017, trading at $47.70 a barrel, or down 4.5% on Friday morning.

Another source, this time with Bloomberg, said that Russia wants OPEC+ to sustain current output cuts until June. It would then be at that time where more data about market imbalances could be assessed and corrected, the person added. 

With Russia taking a “tough stance” on the proposed additional cuts, Commerzbank says Brent futures could extend declines to $40 per barrel. However, if Russia agrees to further cuts, Brent futures would jump to $60 in weeks. 

Goldman Sachs maintained its Brent price forecast of $45 per barrel in April. 

“Ultimately, a rebound in demand, not supply cuts, will be the necessary catalyst for a sustainable rebound in prices,” Goldman said. 

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

Saudis Urge More Than 1 Million Bpd Oil Cut To Prop Up Prices, Russia Opposes

Saudis Urge More Than 1 Million Bpd Oil Cut To Prop Up Prices, Russia Opposes

Update (0800ET): The Wall Street Journal reports that Russia opposes the Saudi plan to deepen OPEC+ cuts by 1.2mm b/d.


*  *  *

As we detailed earlier, Brent crude futures were up 75 cents, or 1.45%, at 52.61 a barrel at 0700ET Wednesday after a three-day move of +10%, following expectations that major oil producers could make significant production cuts at the OPEC meeting on March 5. 

Brent has tumbled into a bear market, down 26.5% in 38 sessions, following the outbreak of Covid-19 in China, now spreading across the world, has slashed global oil demand.

“This is a sudden, instant demand shock,” said Jim Burkhard, vice president and head of oil markets at IHS Markit Ltd.

“The scale of the decline is unprecedented.”

OPEC+ Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, the body that oversees production, will meet on Wednesday, ahead of the formal meeting, to discuss cuts. Saudi Arabia is urging OPEC+ to come to an agreeance ahead of Thursday for a reduction of 1 million barrels per day to compensate for lost demand seen by the virus crisis, Bloomberg notes. 

“The recommended 600,000-barrel-a-day additional cut for the second quarter of 2020 will be seen as too little,” Mohammad Darwazah of consultant Medley Global Advisors said in a note. “It is clear that the group is mulling a deeper production pullback.”

The push for deep cuts comes as crude had its worst weekly decline since the 2008 financial crisis on mounting macroeconomic headwinds developing because of the virus spread, which forced Saudi Arabia to demand Russia jump on board with production cuts. 

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

OPEC+ Committee Fails To Agree On Proposed Production Cuts

OPEC+ Committee Fails To Agree On Proposed Production Cuts

Oil futures remain in a bear market following the collapse in oil demand from China amid two-thirds of its economy shutdown following the coronavirus outbreak.

This forced the OPEC+ technical committee to meet in Vienna, Austria, for a third day this week, to discuss the importance of slashing oil output by at least 500,000 barrels per day (bpd), reported Reuters.

The Joint Technical Committee (JTC) is an advising body of OPEC and Russia, known as OPEC+.

As of Thursday, there’s no firm decision by the technical committee to cut oil production. This is because Russia has opposed to cuts and said it would be willing to agree on an extension of current cuts.

Ransquawk reports that the meeting has officially ended without a planned resolution of production cuts.

The technical committee meeting comes ahead of a planned OPEC+ conference on March 5-6.

OPEC+ has already agreed in December to remove 1.7 million bpd from markets in response to a slowing global economy. Now the deadly virus outbreak has created a “shock” in the global economy as China’s economy grinds to a halt. The country is the largest importer of crude in the world, suggesting that demand has collapsed, and oil prices will plunge deeper if supply isn’t curbed.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday that he wasn’t sure if it was time to tighten output further.

BP CFO Brian Gilvary warned Tuesday that the virus outbreak has reduced 2020 global demand growth by 300,000-500,000 bpd, or about 0.5%.

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

Expect low oil prices in 2020; tendency toward recession

Expect low oil prices in 2020; tendency toward recession

Energy Forecast for 2020

Overall, I expect that oil and other commodity prices will remain low in 2020. These low oil prices will adversely affect oil production and several other parts of the economy. As a result, a strong tendency toward recession can be expected. The extent of recessionary influences will vary from country to country. Financial factors, not discussed in these forecasts, are likely also to play a role.

The following are pieces of my energy forecast for 2020:

[1] Oil prices can be expected to remain generally low in 2020. There may be an occasional spike to $80 or $90 per barrel, but average prices in 2020 are likely to be at or below the 2019 level. 

Figure 1. Average annual inflation-adjusted Brent equivalent oil prices in 2018 US$. 2018 and prior are as shown in BP’s 2019 Statistical Review of World Energy. Value for 2019 estimated by author based on EIA Brent daily oil prices and 2% expected inflation.

Figure 2 shows in more detail how peaks in oil prices have been falling since 2008. While it doesn’t include early January 2020 oil prices, even these prices would be below the dotted line.

Figure 2. Inflation adjusted weekly average Brent Oil price, based on EIA oil spot prices and US CPI-urban inflation.

Oil prices can temporarily spike because of inadequate supply or fear of war. However, to keep oil prices up, there needs to be an increase in “demand” for finished goods and services made with commodities. Workers need to be able to afford to purchase more goods such as new homes, cars, and cell phones. Governments need to be able to afford to purchase new goods such as paved roads and school buildings.

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

Past Point of No Return –John Rubino

Past Point of No Return –John Rubino

Financial writer and book author John Rubino sees the world careening toward a debt reset at an increasing pace. Rubino explains, “The coming monetary reset and what that means for gold and what that means for the rest of the global financial system, you don’t need a war to bring that about because we are making enough financial mistakes that will get us there in no time flat now without geopolitical turmoil. If you add a big war in the Middle East into the equation, then anything can happen. A scenario right now that is very, very feasible is we start shooting in the Middle East and Russia and China is on the other side of this in one way or another. They help Iran, and we have our allies helping us, and we start using these next generation weapons that are breathtakingly powerful. Nobody has any idea what’s going to happen when we start throwing these things at each other. . . . Oil spikes to $100 – $150 per barrel, and that tips the already extremely fragile global financial system over the edge. So, we get the ‘Greater Depression’ or the monetary reset or a hyperinflation or whatever we get sooner rather than later. It’s a disaster for everybody when it happens that way.”

Rubino says the monetary masters “tried to fix the financial system but could not do it.” Rubino says, “If you think you are beyond the point of no return financially as an individual, you borrow as much money as you can, and then go bankrupt. . . . Governments in the world are starting to do that now or behaving that way. . . . There is nothing they can do to fix the system. In the U.S., they tried to fix the system and scale back and they found out that is impossible…

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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