Goldman Estimates Lost Libyan Production Would Require Over Half Of Spare OPEC Capacity To Replace Yet Lowers WTI Target To $97.50

Tyler Durden's picture

Goldman's David Greely released a crude update factoring in the Libyan revolution in his latest estimates. As it hit the tape ahead of the force majeure announcement later in the date, the predictions in it are especially relevant as pertain to future crude price dynamics. Specifically: "We expect Libya’s crude oil production to reach 1.6 million b/d in 2011, 1.8% of global supply. Should this production be lost to the market, it would require over half of OPEC’s spare capacity to replace. This would dramatically pull forward the return to a structural bull market that we saw occurring in 2011H2 and 2012. Already, the spread of political instability to Libya has sent Brent prices to a post-financial crisis high, close to our 12- month target. The continuing spread of protests through North Africa and the Middle East presents a clear upside risk to our forecasts." And while the focus on Goldman's report is on the spread between WTI and Crude, a topic beaten to death previously, and where the firm sees it going, the more important observation is Goldman's updated price forecasts for Crude and WTI. There are as follows: "We are lowering our WTI-Brent spread forecast to -$5.50/bbl, -$4.50/bbl, and -$3.50/bbl on a 3, 6 and 12-month horizon. This lowers our WTI price forecasts to $97.50/bbl, $100.50/bbl and $103.00/bbl and raises our Brent forecasts to $103.00/bbl, $105.00/bbl, and $106.50/bbl on those horizons." For those who are confused by the disconnect between the first part of this Goldman's argument (price surge on Libya), and the second (WTI price drop due to a spread compression), you are not alone.

More from Goldman on the Libya situation and what it means:

Brent surged to $105.74/bbl on Monday February 21, its highest closing price since September 2008, as political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East spreads, increasing physical risks to oil supplies

Brent crude oil prices surged to their highest levels since the financial crisis as the mass political protests which have arisen across the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) in recent weeks spread to OPEC-member Libya and were met with violence. While earlier protests toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt, prompting fears of political contagion and instability in more prominent oil and gas producers in the region, especially the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the protests in Libya are the first to meaningfully put oil supplies at risk. When we first published on these events three weeks ago, such political contagion seemed relatively unlikely, as the GCC countries are more affluent and generally have more stable and popular governments, and the main physical risks to the oil markets from the protests were more logistical in nature, centered on the potential disruptions of shipments through the Suez Canal and SUMED pipeline between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean (see our January 31, 2011 Commodities Update: Contagion risk moves markets, but physical risks remain low).

Since then, however, the wave of unrest has continued to spread across the MENA region. Protests in Libya have gradually intensified in recent days and have now reached the capital of Tripoli, while the second city of Benghazi is reported to be out of the control of forces loyal to the government. Libya is a member of OPEC and we expect its crude production to reach 1.6 million b/d in 2011, or 1.8% of global supply. So far, 100,000 b/d – roughly 6% of Libyan production – has been halted as a result of the unrest. In addition, violent clashes between protesters and government forces in Bahrain have shown that the richer Gulf states are not immune to these developments. The sectarian fault line dividing the ruling Sunni royal family and the largely Shiite protesters is likely also a major source of concern for the rulers of neighboring Saudi Arabia, which itself has a large Shiite population in its oil-rich eastern parts.

Clearly, these recent developments in Libya and Bahrain increase the risks of major supply disruptions, prompting Brent to rise $3.22/bbl and WTI to rise over $6.00/bbl on electronic trading as the market was closed for the Presidents’ Day holiday in the United States. The sharp move in WTI was all the more noticeable as the WTI market has been increasingly dislocated from the world oil market in recent weeks, with the WTI-Brent spread having collapsed to as low as -$16/bbl. Should Libya’s production be lost to the market, it would require more than half of OPEC’s spare capacity to offset the loss, pulling forward the return to a structural bull market in oil that we saw occurring in 2011H2 and 2012. After Monday’s (February 21) price rise, Brent prices are now at our 12-month target.

However, while the recent events represent a clear upside risk to our price forecasts, it is important to emphasize that even as the political situation in Libya becomes increasingly uncertain, it is not necessarily the case that oil supplies would be meaningfully disrupted over an extended time period. History has shown that oil can still flow even under very adverse political conditions, and an important point to watch is if the oil workers join the protests. Unfortunately, even if a substantial near-term disruption is avoided, the recent events may still have a lasting impact on supplies by discouraging oil investment and/or substantially raising the cost of investment via sharp increases in regional funding costs.

Below is a table of Goldman's existing prefered trades:

And the hedge fund's price target forecasts:

For everyone else who wishes to read Goldman's take on the Brent-WTI spread, and why they may be right this time around, the full report is presented below.


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buzzsaw99's picture

May 16, 2008:

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Goldman Sachs once again issued a provocative forecast for the price of crude oil Friday, saying a barrel is likely to average $141 over the second half of the year -- a further 10% or so above the latest in what's been a string of record highs.

Making their projection on the same day that Saudi Arabia -- the world's biggest oil producer -- declined to raise output and that crude futures crested near $128 a barrel for the first time, Goldman commodities analysts Jeffrey Currie, Giovanni Serio, David Greely, Allison Nathan and Samantha Dart said the oil market appears to be in the midst of a historic repricing...

LawsofPhysics's picture

Priceless.  Now GS claims to be an expert on history.  Too funny.

Thomas's picture

I find it odd that the spread hit records decidedly before the shit hit the fan. Makes ya wonder who knew what when.

malikai's picture

Who is/was the hedge fund that had all the big shorts blown out during the 08 parabola? I'm looking to study the event.

Also, Gail the Actuary at The Oil Drum just wrote posted a writeup on the Brent/WTI spread. Some possible solutions to the anomaly are mentioned.

Instant Karma's picture

What is Goldman's estimate for oil when the Saudi's fall to the revolutionaries?

Instant Karma's picture

At least the Fed can sell some bonds today.

topcallingtroll's picture

The game is not over yet. Treasuries and bennie live to fight another day. The bottom may be in for the dollar for a while. Slow devaluation and slow rise in treasuries means bennie has a chance to win.

baby_BLYTHE's picture

I just don't want to live through a Second Great Depression.

The market has doubled off the lows. Did Bernanke really fail?

Or is he just the man we all love to hate?

ivars's picture

Sure. There is no cure for such scale bubble crisis other than living through the consequences.

topcallingtroll's picture

We have been blessed to live in interesting times.

ivars's picture

More like 130 USD Brent on 6 month horizon, and 160 USD on 12 months.

Ayn Rand's picture

Even if they are wrong at $141, the price ain't going down from here..

topcallingtroll's picture

Does anyone know the grade of libyan crude? If it is light sweet crude then probably it cant be replaced by spare opec capacity which is heavy sour. Only certain refineries can crack heavy sour.

tellsometruth's picture

good question, wish i knew...who does?

tonyw's picture

Libyan oil is generally light (high API gravity) and sweet (low sulfur content), but can also be thick and waxy. The country's nine export grades have API gravities that range from 26o – 44o. While the lighter, sweeter grades are generally sold to Europe, the heavier crude oils are often exported to Asian markets. Most Libyan oil is sold on a term basis, including to the country's Oilinvest marketing network in Europe; to companies like Agip, OMV, Repsol YPF, Tupras, CEPSA, and Total; and small volumes to Asian and South African companies.


Does this help you mr troll

Oh regional Indian's picture

Good to see the petra-oleum complex dis-integrate. The pain had to be borne by some generation. Might as well be us. So we can innovate. Genuinely innovate. Not this incremental form-oriented crap that has us slave to explosion.


jus_lite_reading's picture

Wisconsin was first. Now see the anger spread to Indiana, Michigan, Ohio...

BTW, where is Lloyd today? I'd venture to say, he's packed his bags and headed towards the bunker...

koot's picture

At what dollar price level in oil does demand in US actually begin to show decline?  Past studies show that consumption does not decline substantially and especially until prices reach net negative returns on most business.  Individuals reduce consumption slighly sooner as their bottom line is impacted accordingly, but cost carry to business shows up in consumer prices.

We all have heard the Peak Oil concept, but it is more a peak cost and price factor than a supply.  Cheap oil production is declining, but it is not just the fact that the most economical oil available is declining, but also the fact that currencies and their government proxies are declining which both cause and results from events like Egypt and Libya.  Fourth turning stuff or whatever one calls it, but the fact that too many people  do not realize what truly is important in life only means things will get much worse before any chance for the better.  I wish it were not so, but afraid it is meant to be.

malikai's picture

This is easily explained: You can't eat oil, so it can't be priced too dearly.

Pure Evil's picture

You can eat oil, just have an infinite supply of 'tighty whities' on hand.

Castor Oil - When only the best in explosive diarrhea is expected.

Olestra - The other momentus bowl movement maker.

Fíréan's picture
by malikai in reply to your comment You can't eat oil. You can't eat it yet it is extremely important in the food change, processing of processed foods and in the delivery of all foods.
Buyemall's picture

I hope you post gs weekly kickstart on sunday , i think there might be some changes there as well.

Shock from the middle east is what el erian calls it.

bugs_'s picture

Could Goldman be....oh you already said it.

batting500's picture

Check out page 4 of the report the line labeled:

Precious Metals...London Silver...


They have the price dropping in the 3 month forecast, even though at the same time they have the price of gold moving up.  Just an interesting thing that caught my eye.


Good Luck...

Dr. Porkchop's picture

From CNN Money story:


Relax, Libya oil crisis is no big deal - watchdog

"We have strategic stockpiles of 1.6 billion barrels and I know that OPEC has a good spare capacity," IEA chief Nabuo Tanaka told reporters at an OPEC oil ministers meeting in Saudi Arabia.


The IEA says everything is fine. BTFD.



CrashisOptimistic's picture


They simply do not understand.  They take IEA projections at face value, and the IEA's budget requires them to accept local government projections.  Christ, they still expect 13 mbpd out of Iraq by 2014 (they're at 2 mbpd now) when damn near anyone even remotely up to date on oil can tell them the Iraqi oil ministry is fucking insane.

They do not understand and they are going to get a lot of people killed.

They also need to get better calibrated on "all liquids" vs "crude and condensate".  All liquids are being lumped in to hide the problem with C&C.  All liquids do not have anywhere near C&C's energy density.  You can't pour their refined result gallon for gallon into your gas tank.

Fíréan's picture

If any representative from Goldman Sachs has the time would they please explain to me why i should trust them and believe anything they say in the public forum.

Dr. Porkchop's picture

Because they do God's work? Therefore their market outlook is gospel.



GoinFawr's picture

Original post 14:43
 My WTIC NYMEX chart just flatlined, anyone else's?

Update 15:01

Still got nothing. Stuck @ 93.75. Just a feed fucked? Everything else still spinning along as far as I can tell.

 Update 15:44


Update 17:17

Oh yeah, spot popped up to 95.35 plus AH, interesting.


Coldfire's picture

It's just so awesome that Goldman can predict the future.

PulauHantu29's picture

When WTI hits $150 he will say,"No one could have seen this coming."