International Energy Agency
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi may be one of the most powerful individuals in the global oil industry. But for all his power, is he the most ingenious? That question arises from the release of two reports on the current state of the oil industry that look at whether or not OPEC’s strategy of forcing US shale to cut back is succeeding.
As hopeful US investors buy everything oil-related on the back of a lower than expected crude build this week (after the biggest build in 30 years the week before), The Kingdom has stepped up overnight and ruined the dream of supply-restrained price recovery as it announced a surge in production output in March to yet another record high. The nation boosted crude output by 658,800 barrels a day in March to an average of 10.294 million a day, which as Bloomberg notes, is about half the daily production from the Bakken formation. WTI Crude prices have slipped by around 2% from yesterday's NYMEX Close ramp highs as it appears Saudi Arabia is not willing to just let this effort to squeeze Shale stall.
Oil is our most-precious commodity as fuel for the global economy. It is also becoming a scarce commodity, as global production has flattened, while global demand continues to climb relentlessly, everywhere in the world except for the dying economies of Europe and North America. It is a classic “seller’s market.”
Instead of leaving its own production flat in an attempt to stabilize oil prices and hit its "optimistic" outlook sooner rather than never, Saudi Arabia would boost production quite sharply to claw back market share. Specifically al-Naimi, revealed that the kingdom’s oil production in March was 10.3-million barrels a day – a record high. .. Why is Saudi Arabia opening the spigot? There is no doubt that country’s own domestic demand is rising, thanks to heavy investment in new refineries, requiring more production. But it also appears that Saudi Arabia is making renewed push for market share for fear that a gusher of Iranian oil will soon hit the export markets as the Iranian embargo is ratcheted back
As the market ponders how quickly an Iran nuclear deal and subsequent lifting of sanctions will affect crude prices, record production in Iraq leaves 5% of the world's tanker fleet parked in the Persian Gulf.
Just a few short days ago we were the first to bring attention to the potential of an Iran nuclear deal being a catalyst for the next big leg lower in the energy complex and sure enough, not only is the market startuing to leg lower in a hurry as the deadline looms, but the mainstream media is catching on too. WTI hit fresh cycle lows this morning at $42.63 with the contango continuing to surge.
There are signs that crude oil production in the US remains strong, despite the strong correction in prices recently. The American Association of Railroads (“AAR”) publishes rail traffic data for a variety of commodities in the US and Canada. The subset for petroleum and petroleum products can provide a sense of crude oil volumes being railed across North America (although it also includes refined products like gasoline, distillates, jet fuel and so on). Here’s the latest monthly data for the US.
Having recently explained why the stock market is extremely overvalued (in his own words by Fed-driven multiple expansion alone), Alan Greenspan - seemingly brimming over with the need to remedy his years of lies/mistruths with some uncomfortable truthiness - is now taking on the US Dollar ("it is not from a strong US economy but a weak rest of the world") and oil prices (America has a massive surplus of oil and there may soon be nowhere to store all of it, "we'll be lucky if we can get $40 for it.")
While none of the catalysts are new (IEA warning temporary stabilization amid rising oil glut and increased US production), it appears the February bounce is done as our discussions of storage limitations gains traction among the ETF-driven knife-catchers. April WTI Crude futures have collapsed in the last few days from over $52 to a $45 handle now - the lowest since January and only marginally above cycle lows... As oil cratered so EURUSD slipped and S&P futures fell.
No matter how much oil the United States produces over the next few years, it will never become the next Saudi Arabia in the global oil market, according to Fatih Birol, the new executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). What's especially interesting about this forecast is that it directly contradicts what Birol said only three months ago, and he gave no explanation for his change of mind. “The United States will never be a major oil exporter. Their import needs are getting less but the US is not becoming Saudi Arabia,” Birol told the conference. “Their production growth is good to diversify the market but it will not solve the world’s oil problems.”
The front page of The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, February 10 proclaimed “Oil-Price Rebound Predicted” according to the IEA (International Energy Agency).
"This is further evidence that they are hellbent on protecting their market share in China," warns one strategist as just when US talking-heads thought things were 'stabilizing' Saudi Aramco slashes its official selling price for Arab Light crude by 90 cents to $2.30 a barrel less than Middle East benchmarks - the biggest discount in 14 years. As Bloomberg reports, the desert kingdom is continuing to fight for market share, and using the oil weapon by "trying to stay competitive in what is the biggest area of growth," as Middle Eastern producers are increasingly competing with cargoes from Latin America, Africa and Russia for buyers in Asia.
The Ukrainian government has repeatedly claimed it is doing its best to improve the oil and gas investment climate, but official statements are the opposite of the reality, as Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is leading the great deception.
One day after the SNB stunner roiled markets, overnight global markets have seen - as expected - substanial downward pressure, with the Swiss market slide resuming post open, while European stocks have seen some pressure despite what is now an assured ECB QE announcement next week. However, the one trade that can not be mistaken is the global rush into the safety of government paper, with every single treasury yielding less today than yesterday (the Swiss 10Y was trading below 0% at last check), except for Greek 10Y which are wider on deposit run fears. That said, with capital market liquidity absolutely non-existent even the smallest trade has a disproportionate effect on futures, and expect to see much more rangebound trading until the damage report from the SNB action is fully digested, something which will take place over the weekend.
If technology requires a complex society to build and maintain it, and our dreams and hopes are pinned on even more complex and useful technology in the future, but net energy from new oil plays is shrinking, then it might not be wise to pin all our hopes on technology. Perhaps there should be some other plans in the works too.