International Energy Agency
Global oil prices have returned to a state of flux. This is hardly news to any who follow the oil markets closely and yet prices continue to drive international headlines. While oil prices are notoriously difficult to predict, it has failed to deter the speculators. There are those warning that the latest dip is a precursor for $40 a barrel, a catastrophe for oil markets in some minds. On the other end of the spectrum are the optimists betting on a return to $100 by 2020. The World Bank has taken a typically middle-of-the-road approach, with forecasts of $57 a barrel in 2015. That said, given Iran’s potential revitalization, Russia’s murky outlook, and U.S. shale supply limits uncertain, prices will be responsive to supply and demand trends; at least in the short to medium term.
The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), once seen as a cornerstone of America’s energy security, is losing its shine in Washington.
The world is on the brink of the longest-lasting oil glut in at least three decades and OPEC’s quest for market share makes it almost unavoidable. Oil supply has exceeded demand globally for the past five quarters, already the most enduring glut since the 1997 Asian economic crisis, International Energy Agency data show. But as WolfStreet.com's Wolf Richter warns, if Iran and world powers reach an accord on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program by their June 30 deadline, we’ll be watching the most magnificent oil glut ever building up into next year.
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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).