"OPEC’s credibility is on the line: stocks need to show a significant draw during the second and third quarters or many hedge funds are likely to give up on the bullish narrative prevailing since late 2016."
Oil prices limped higher overnight as desperate jawboning of OPEC production cut deal extensions by the Saudis supported a recovery from yesterday's post-inventories plunge. However, confirming the market's lack of faith in OPEC (and Saudi's ability to hold the deal together), WTI prices are sliding back towards a $50 handle as jawboning half-lives slump.
Mexico’s oil and gas regulator said last week that the country’s proved hydrocarbon reserves will drop by 10.6 percent in 2017. This forecast, coupled with the lower oil production that state company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) reported for yet another year in 2016, is painting a rather bleak picture of Mexico’s reserves.
Despite record gluts in crude and gasoline amid resurgent US crude production, hedge funds boosted their net long position in WTI last week to a new record high. For the first time ever, hedge funds hold more than a billion barrels of bets that crude oil prices will rally.
Oil jumped this morning, with Brent rising 1%, trading above $56 after the International Energy Agency said OPEC had achieved record initial compliance of 90% with planned production cuts while demand grew faster than expected.
S&P futures rose further into record territory, European shares rose to within striking distance of their highest levels in more than a year while bonds fell and the dollar rose as investors cheered a surge in Chinese trade data amid hopes of "phenomenal" tax cuts by Donald Trump, all of which have rekindled the Trumpflation trade.
Following a January announcement according to which the DOE planned to sell 8 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and which some speculated was the reason for the big buildup in crude inventories in the past several weeks, today the U.S. Energy Department said it will sell 10 million barrels of oil from the government's emergency crude reserve in late February.
A mixed bag of crude draw and gasoline builds from API combined with IEA comments on rising US Shale output offset by Saudi jawboning about more production cuts possible has pushedoil green before today's DOE data. However, oil prices tumbled when DOE printed an unexpected 2.347mm barrel crude build (1mm draw expected) and another major build in gasoline inventories. US crude production remains at 9-month highs.
Following a brief spike overnight (as China intervened in its equity market), crude prices slipped lower, testing towards a $51 handle after Saudi Arabia says OPEC is on track to wrap up its production curbs by the middle of the year, potentially leaving its aim of clearing a global oil glut unfinished.
Oil prices have risen over 20% since the OPEC production cut agreement at the end of November. While concerns abound on quota cheating and increased production from Libya, Nigeria and US shale, the incoming US administration could change the market completely through strategic oil sales and new import taxes.
The US will offer to sell some 8 million barrels from the petroleum reserve. According to the notice of sale, the Energy Department is accepting bids on sweet crude oil until 2pm CT Jan. 17. The contracts will then awarded by the end of January, with early deliveries expected in February and other deliveries in March, April.
Even with the recovery in conventional oil and gas looking positive in 2017, the lack of major capital investment in oil sands that has become the norm in the past decade will be painful with no relief in sight.