Saxo Warns Further Upside For Crude Hard To Achieve After Market "Change Of Focus"

Tyler Durden's picture

The dollar's gyrations remain a key source of inspiration for traders with the fundamental focus continuing to switch between falling US and rising OPEC production, according to Saxo Bank's Ole Hanson.

The nervousness and negative price action seen this week was triggered by a change in focus from falling US production towards the rising supply from others, especially within OPEC. Having seen calendar 2017 almost hit $50 last week the realisation that further upside may be hard to achieve may has helped trigger increased demand for protection.

The speculative net-long remains very elevated so just a small change in the fundamental or technical outlook can trigger increased demand for hedging.

This has been reflected in the options skew on WTI crude which during the past week has seen increased demand for put options.

The skew or “smile” shows that the cost of out-the-money puts has risen by close to 5% this week while OTM calls have risen by less than 2%

Furthermore, as's Rakesh Upadhyay notes, the 70% rise in crude oil prices from the lows of $27.1 per barrel to a high of above $46/b in a matter of three months is being driven by speculative activity—make no mistake about it. The speculators have latched on to every bit of rumour and news to bid prices higher, and this has nothing to do with the real fundamentals.

However, speculation can boost prices only to a certain extent in the short-term. After this, the fundamentals take over. The extent of speculation is enormous, though the daily production of oil in the U.S. is around 9 million b/d, the WTI crude oil contract trades more than 100 times the produced quantity, as highlighted in this January 2016 post.

The trading volume is generated by the algo traders, day traders, and scalpers who are in and out of their positions many times a day. Due to their enormous volume, they set the direction of prices in the short-term.

However, these traders are neither involved in the production nor do they take physical delivery of oil; they are usually active only in the near-term contracts until expiry; after which the users of oil take deliveries.

The oil producers have used the sharp rise to hedge part of their production for 2016 and 2017 as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

(Click to enlarge)

However, Citi Research points out that the oil producers have hedged only 36 percent of their estimated production for 2016, compared to 50 percent in the previous years.

If prices creep up further, the producers will not only hedge more, they are likely to increase production to mend their balance sheet.

Pioneer Natural Resources has hedged 50 percent of its expected 2017 output and has conveyed its intention to add five to ten horizontal drilling rigs if prices recover to $50/b, with a positive outlook for oil fundamentals. Earlier on, too many U.S. shale oil drillers had indicated that they will be back at around $50/b levels.

Though the bulls have latched on to the largest U.S. rig count drop in the past six weeks, their bullishness might be short-lived because if prices reach above $50/b, we might see an increase in the oil rig count, reversing the current trend.

The short-term trend changed with the idea of a production freeze by Russia and OPEC, but the Doha meeting turned out to be a non-event.

The chart below by Yardeni Research, a provider of independent investment and economics research, shows that in 2016, the oil inventories continue to rise, confirming that the supply glut continues.

(Click to enlarge)

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) STEO report expects the supply glut to reduce in the second half of the year; however, if prices remain high, production might increase adding to the supply glut.

Though Nigeria, Kuwait, and Venezuela’s production has been hit hard due to various reasons, OPEC’s production of 32.64 million b/d is very close to its highest level of 32.65 million b/d recorded in January 2016, according to Reuters survey records since 1997.

"The market is massively oversupplied," said Eugen Weinberg, analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. "This rally doesn't have strong legs," reports Reuters.

There isn’t much by way of fundamentals to rely upon for the rally to continue. Closer to $50/b, additional supply will start trickling in and buyers will be wary to buy at higher prices. With no excuses at hand, the speculators will find it difficult to prop prices higher.

The short-term speculative pop in crude is about to end and the long-term fundamentals will take over. Prices should drop closer to $36 to $38/b in the near future.

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slaughterer's picture

Price of WTI depends on how many Central Banks defend it against the real fundamentals of WTI.  

Theonewhoknows's picture
Theonewhoknows (not verified) slaughterer May 4, 2016 12:38 PM

and knowing how strategic the energy sector is for the US, Janet may be aiming at bailing it out at the convenient time (or when Saudis will go ape)

jus_lite_reading's picture

Man, Saudis pushing REAL hard to sell their worthless stake. LMAO@ their $2 TRILLION valuation! Try $680-$830 BILLION tops.

$2 TRILLION sounds like they got Goldman Sachs helping out on the valuation! LMFAO!

inosent's picture

Oil looks terrible weekly and monthly, but its all part of the scam. The game now is to shake buyers down and grind to keep the threat alive that 2016 low breaks. It is not that oil wont be trading between 70-90 next year. The issue is how it gets there, and then how to capitalize on that.


In.Sip.ient's picture

They just shut down oil sand production in Canada

due to a forest fire that took out a city in Alberta.


Somehow, I think those who don't get it, are about to.

Isn't Canada the 3rd largest oil producer???

And we only need 1million bbls/day off line

now don't we???