It was a volatile week, with prices falling on Monday and Tuesday due to the oversupply situation and traders deciding that a grand agreement between Russia and OPEC to cut oil production was unlikely. However, prices climbed on Wednesday as talk of the Russia/OPEC deal revived, the US dollar underwent a sudden price drop, and a hedge fund that that held $600 million in short oil futures positions was liquidated. On Thursday and Friday, the markets were back to believing that the Saudis were not going to cut production as Riyadh lowered their prices for oil being sold to Europe and Asia as part of the new competition with Iran. A big jump in US crude and gasoline inventories announced on Wednesday helped with the downward pressure. At week’s end, New York futures closed at $30.89, down 8.1 percent for the week and London closed at $34.06, down 5.4 percent for the week.
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(The Economist) Along with bank runs and market crashes, oil shocks have rare power to set monsters loose. Starting with the Arab oil embargo of 1973, people have learnt that sudden surges in the price of oil cause economic havoc. Conversely, when the price slumps because of a glut, as in 1986, it has done the world a power of good. The rule of thumb is that a 10% fall in oil prices boosts growth by 0.1-0.5 percentage points.
(Bloomberg) Oil’s collapse to $27 a barrel last week spurred concern that, on top of the existing oversupply, the market is facing a demand crisis. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. thinks that’s wrong.
Over the past six weeks, long-term oil futures — for deliveries in five years’ time — have fallen even harder than prices for immediate supplies.
(Peak Oil Barrel) The EIA’s Monthly Energy Review just came out. They have the U.S. production numbers through December along with World, OPEC C+C, Non-OPEC and selected Non-OPEC nations through October. All EIA data is in thousand barrels per day.
(Politico) For months, American drivers have been greeted at gas stations with a pleasant surprise: Gas prices have fallen by half, dropping an average of more than $2 a gallon since their most recent peak in 2011. President Barack Obama took a moment to bask in the credit last week in his State of the Union speech: “Gas under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad,” he said.(Politico) For months, American drivers have been greeted at gas stations with a pleasant surprise: Gas prices have fallen by half, dropping an average of more than $2 a gallon since their most recent peak in 2011. President Barack Obama took a moment to bask in the credit last week in his State of the Union speech: “Gas under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad,” he said.
Or maybe it is.
(The Economist) Oil traders are paying unusual attention to Kharg, a small island 25km (16 miles) off the coast of Iran. On its lee side, identifiable to orbiting satellites by the transponders on their decks, are half a dozen or so huge oil tankers that have been anchored there for months.
(NY Times) WASHINGTON — It has been a truism of the American economy for decades: When oil prices rise, the economy suffers; when they fall, growth improves.
But the decline of oil prices over the last two years has failed to deliver the usual economic benefits.
As oil prices have fallen to levels not seen since 2003 — sagging below $27 a barrel on Wednesday before rebounding to about $30 on Thursday — many experts now say they do not expect lower prices to bolster the domestic economy significantly in 2016.
(Time) Ali Bin Ibrahim al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s petroleum and mineral resources minister, at the 168th Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting in Vienna on Dec. 4, 2015. The country relies on oil for about 80% of budget revenue.
(Bloomberg) Refining profits that buttressed earnings for Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc as crude prices plunged are now slumping, further pressuring all of the world’s biggest oil companies as they move into 2016.
Global refining margins, the estimated profit from turning oil into gasoline and diesel, fell 34 percent in the fourth quarter, the steepest decline in eight years, to $13.20 a barrel, data on BP Plc’s website show. Every $1 drop cuts BP’s pretax adjusted earnings by $500 million a year, according to its website.
(Seeking Alpha) There is much hope in the financial markets, with individual investors and oil company employees that oil prices will rise in the months ahead. Many point to the 2008 commodity crash as THE example as to why the oil price decline is likely temporary. However, if we look back further in history we see another situation where the crash in commodity prices marked an extremely long period of oil price suppression.
(CNN) World is ‘drowning’ in oil, says IEA Can oil really go lower? The answer from the International Energy Agency is an “emphatic yes.” The world is “drowning” in oil, and weak demand has failed to match relentless pumping by the world’s biggest oil producers, the group said. With Iran planning to boost its production by as much as 1.5 million barrels a day by the end of 2016, the global oil glut will get even worse.
(OilPrice.com) After flirting with breaking below $30 per barrel, oil decidedly broke that threshold at the end of last week, deepening the unrelenting losses the market shave witnessed so far in 2016.
The reasons for the 20 percent decline in oil prices since the start of the year range from rapidly growing concerns over the Chinese economy , fears of a persistent glut in oil supplies, and most recently the removal of sanctions on Iran .
(Guardian) Global oil prices will remain under pressure this week after Iran said it was ready to add half a million barrels a day to crude exports just hours after international sanctions were lifted this weekend.
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, hailed a “glorious victory” as his country relished reconnecting to the global economy following the formal announcement late on Saturday that sanctions were ending thanks to moves by Tehran to scale back its nuclear programme.
(Guardian) There was a time when Blue Monday meant a song by New Order. These days it is the third Monday in January, allegedly the most depressing day of the year.
Whether there is any scientific basis for this claim is debatable, but for what it’s worth the argument is that people feel miserable because Christmas is over, the credit card bills are arriving, it’s dark when you go to work in the morning and it’s dark when you head home.
(Resilience.org) My favorite Texas oilman Jeffrey Brown is at it again. In a recent email he’s pointing out to everyone who will listen that the supposed oversupply of crude oil isn’t quite what it seems.
(The Guardian) Along the King Fahd highway in downtown Riyadh, signs of the country’s wealth glitter and dazzle. Monuments include the massive Kingdom Centre – instantly recognisable by the giant bottle-opener feature formed by its two wings – and the beautiful and futuristic Faisaliyah building. New ones are still rising, like the King Abdullah financial district, still under construction: a reminder of the fat years of high oil revenues under the previous monarch.
(Star Tribune) Oil industry experts have been making dire predictions of $20 per barrel oil. In North Dakota, they’re now reality, prompting warnings of more bankruptcies and less drilling in 2016.
Although the U.S. domestic crude oil benchmark is higher — $29.64 per barrel — Bakken producers must sell at a discount because of the region’s limited oil pipelines and the higher cost of alternate shipping methods.
(PeakProsperity.com) Geologist Art Berman explains why today’s low oil prices are not here to stay, something investors and consumers alike should be very aware of.
(UPI) Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia pale in comparison to market fundamentals, leaving crude oil prices less exposed to crises in the Middle East, analysis from Wood Mackenzie finds.
(Wall Street Journal) Oil prices have slumped to 12-year lows , shocking even the most bearish forecasters. But back in February 2004, the last time the U.S. benchmark settled below $33.50 a barrel, oil at these prices was considered pricey.
(Bloomberg) When looking for the prime culprit behind widespread weakness in commodity prices, fingers often point squarely at China.
(Reuters) The global oil glut will swell until late 2017, the U.S. government forecast on Tuesday in an outlook that offered little hope of near-term relief for energy producers reeling from the collapse of crude prices to 12-year lows around $30 a barrel.
(The National Interest) In the middle of 2014, oil traded for more than $100 a barrel . Today, it is below $35. Traditionally, there would be numerous positives from low oil prices, but many of these have yet to materialize or may no longer be relevant at all.
(CNBC) Saudi Arabia’s planned cuts in spending and energy subsidies signal that the world’s largest crude exporter is bracing for a prolonged period of low oil prices.