After a quick drop of $3-4 a barrel the week before last, oil prices steadied last week as the markets contemplated just how effective the OPEC/NOPEC production freeze will be in the short term. Speculators had enthusiastically embraced the production freeze when it was announced late last year and drove open interest in futures to record highs. The cuts, however, did not come fast enough or be deep enough to offset increasing oil production from other countries and lower demand. As one important trader put it, “The OPEC cuts were good enough to prevent a repeat of the glut of last year, but it’s a different story if you want to have oil at $60 or $70.” For now, the physical oil market continues to indicate an oversupply situation.
(Bloomberg) Here’s Why This Is Only the Fourth Time Oil Has Tanked. For oil companies, the legacy of $100 crude is starting to run dry.
A wave of projects approved at the start of the decade, when oil traded near $100 a barrel, has bolstered output for many producers, keeping cash flowing even as prices plummeted. Now, that production boon is fading. In 2016, for the first time in years, drillers will add less oil from new fields than they lose to natural decline in old ones.
About 3 million barrels a day will come from new projects this year, compared with 3.3 million lost from established fields, according to Oslo-based Rystad Energy AS.
(platts.com) The total US rig count, which on Friday stood at 476, is now at its lowest point ever in the 67-year history of the Baker Hughes numbers, according to data released by the oilfield service company.
That is down by four from last week and down from 1,069 working the same week in 2015 and a recent peak of 1,931 in late 2014. The previous low was 488 in April 1999, Baker Hughes records show.
(Bloomberg) Even as it pumps near-record quantities of oil, Saudi Arabia is getting ready for a time when the world will no longer need its biggest export.
The world’s largest crude exporter is focusing on renewable-energy sources such as solar power in preparation for a post-oil global economy, Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said at a conference in Berlin on Thursday.
(NY Times) It was one of the darkest periods of the oil market slump. The global economy was showing fresh signs of slowing, and crude prices were collapsing so steeply that virtually every well in America was unprofitable.
But when Diamondback Energy went out to raise $226 million worth of new stock that week in the middle of January, the oil and gas company found more buyers than it could accommodate. It had to nearly double the amount of shares it sold, to four million.
(Bloomberg) The top of the oil market may be closer than you think.
With Brent futures having bounced back as high as $41 a barrel, the International Energy Agency sees “ light at the end of the tunnel ,” and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is spotting “green shoots.” Even so, many analysts warn that, like the failed rally last year, this recovery will sputter once prices go high enough to keep U.S. crude flowing.
(Bloomberg) In January 2012, I traveled to Oklahoma City for the first time to report on what was considered a surprising development: a U.S. oil boom. Until then, hydraulic fracturing—aka fracking—was best known for boosting U.S. natural gas production. It was just starting to be used to unlock oil trapped in deep underground layers of rock like the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, the Eagle Ford in Texas, and the Mississippi Lime in Oklahoma.
(The Fuse) The U.S. oil industry seemed to be defying gravity in 2015, keeping oil production elevated even as oil prices crashed to lows not seen in more than a decade. But now, over 1.5 years into the price collapse, production declines in shale oil are finally starting to appear as low oil prices have slashed company investments in new supply, and production begins to decline from existing wells.
The latest data from the EIA shows that U.S. output is steadily declining, although perhaps at a slower rate than shale’s competitors might prefer. In December, the latest month for which final data is available, total U.S. production declined to 9.26 million barrels per day (mbd), a loss of 43,000 barrels per day from the month before and down from a peak of 9.69 mbd in April 2015. But December’s small decline hides the decrease in shale production, as losses were offset by output increases from the Gulf of Mexico.
(Reuters) Global oil prices appear to have bottomed out and are expected to rise through this year as investment cuts help to reduce a supply glut, a senior analyst at the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday.
Benchmark Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 44 cents at $37.01 a barrel at 1304 GMT (06:04 EST), the highest in eight weeks. They hit a more than 12-year low of $27.10 on Jan. 20.
“Oil prices appear to have bottomed out,” Neil Atkinson, the new head of IEA’s oil industry and market division, told a seminar in Oslo.
(Bloomberg) Even if Saudi Arabia wins its struggle with U.S. shale producers over market share, it will face a new billion-barrel adversary.
It won’t be regional nemesis Iran, a resurgent Iraq or long-standing competitor Russia. The answer will be more prosaic: Even when overproduction ends, a stockpile surplus of more than 1 billion barrels built up since 2014 will remain, weighing on prices. Inventories will keep accumulating until the end of 2017, the International Energy Agency forecasts, and clearing the glut could take years.
(Reuters) For leading U.S. shale oil producers, $40 is the new $70.
Less than a year ago major shale firms were saying they needed oil above $60 a barrel to produce more; now some say they will settle for far less in deciding whether to crank up output after the worst oil price crash in a generation.
Their latest comments highlight the industry’s remarkable resilience, but also serve as a warning to rivals and traders: a retreat in U.S. oil production that would help ease global oversupply and let prices recover may prove shorter than some may have expected.
(BBC) The International Energy Agency (IEA) is warning consumers not to let cheap oil lull them into a false sense of security amid forecasts of a price spike by 2021. In a report , the IEA said it expects prices to start recovering in 2017. But it forecasts that will be followed by a sharp jump in price as supply shrinks following under-investment by struggling producers.
Brent crude touched a 13-year low of $28.88 a barrel in January. It has since recovered somewhat, but is still far below a high of $115 in June 2014. On Monday the price was up around 4.9% at $34.62.
(oilprice.com) BNP Paribas, France’s largest bank, announced that it would no longer lend money to struggling oil and gas companies in the United States. “Given the current environment in the oil and gas markets and the short to medium term outlook, BNP Paribas has decided to halt the redevelopment of its reserve-based lending business,” BNP said in a statement. The bank will continue to work with its existing borrowers, but won’t lend to new ones.
The French bank was concerned that default rates among energy companies would rise, sources told Reuters. It was the second time that the bank pulled out of lending to energy companies in the U.S. – it sold a unit to Wells Fargo in 2012 before reentering the space in 2014 when oil prices shot into triple-digit territory.
(Toronto Sun via Reuters) Oil workers just aren’t drinking like they used to. Molson Coors Brewing Co. blames a sluggish economy for a big drop in beer sales in Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan. Customers are abandoning higher-priced premium beers for economy brands, the beer giant says.
“The consumer is under pressure,” Stewart Glendinning, chief executive of Molson Coors Canada, said Thursday during a conference call on the company’s fourth-quarter and 2015 results.
“And if you add to that the fact that consumer debt in Canada is at an all-time high, it’s made for quite a difficult recipe in some of those provinces.”
(CNN) A history of oil’s booms and busts. The oil price crash has squeezed investment in the industry to the weakest levels in 30 years. Capital expenditure on global oil exploration and production is expected to fall 17% in 2016, following a 24% drop in 2015, according to the International Energy Agency’s medium term outlook.
That will be the first time since 1986 that upstream investment has fallen for two consecutive years, the agency said, warning that the collapse could be storing up problems for consumers further down the track.
“It is easy for consumers to be lulled into complacency by ample stocks and low prices today, but they should heed the writing on the wall: the historic investment cuts we are seeing raise the odds of unpleasant oil-security surprises in the not too distant future,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol on Monday.
(The Fuse) When Sheikh Ali Khalifa al-Sabah of Kuwait thinks about today’s plunging oil prices, his mind drifts back to the mid-1980s, when he was forced to sell some of his country’s crude for as little as $5 a barrel.
As Kuwait’s oil minister at the time, Sheikh Ali had to sell a cargo or two at that price just to keep up cash flow to a country that depended upon oil revenues. “It wasn’t because I wanted to; it was because it was the market price,” he recalls.
“We really had no alternative.”
(The Fuse) Today at IHS CERAWeek in Houston, Texas, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released the 2016 Medium Term Oil Market Report, urging that consumer countries not be drawn into a false sense of complacency given the current low prices and the global glut in supply—even as the likelihood of a price spike in the medium-term remain slim. Last year, oil capital expenditures (capex) declined by 24 percent, and this year we expect an additional 17 percent. This is historic, because in the last 30 years we have never seen oil investment decline in two consecutive years. “It is easy for consumers to be lulled into complacency by ample stocks and low prices today, but they should heed the writing on the wall,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.
(Bloomberg) The global oil glut will persist into 2017, limiting any chance of a price rebound in the short term as the surplus takes even longer to clear than previously estimated, according to the International Energy Agency.
While U.S. shale oil production will retreat this year and next as the price slump hits drilling, its subsequent recovery will ensure America remains the biggest source of new supply to 2021.
(The Fuse) In 2015, almost 40 oilfield services companies, with more than $5 billion in debt, went bankrupt. More are expected this year.
While bankruptcies among independent shale producers have received the most attention , the oilfield services sector is in dire straits. The carnage from the low oil price in the shale patch has been widespread, with companies that provide technology, transportation, and supplies to producers getting slammed.
(Reuters) The world will store unwanted oil for most of 2016 as declines in U.S. output take time and OPEC is unlikely to cut a deal with other producers to reduce ballooning output, the International Energy Agency said.
The agency, which coordinates energy policies of industrialised countries, said that while it did not believe oil prices could follow some of the most extreme forecasts and fall to as low as $10 per barrel, it was equally hard to see how they could rise significantly from current levels.
(International Business Times) At the outset of the global economic meltdown in 2008, the world was already bracing for another crisis: peak oil. Predictions that oil production would soon top out flooded the airwaves, stoking fears of a global oil shortfall and fueling speculation of prices at hundreds of dollars a barrel.
“People have been trying very hard and they can’t increase oil production from here,” Robert Hirsch, an energy analyst, said in a June 2008 segment on CNBC. He projected oil production would peak, and then decline sharply within three to five years. “For somebody to suggest that all of a sudden something magic is going to happen, and there’s going to all of a sudden be an enormous amount of new oil — they don’t understand the problem,” he added.
(Reuters) Less than two months into the year, the top U.S. shale oil companies have already cut their budget for 2016 a second time as the relentless drop in oil prices continues to erode their cash flow.
With oil prices firmly wedged in the low $30-per-barrel range, oil producers are deferring spending on new wells and projects.
(Bloomberg) After a year of low oil prices, only 0.1 percent of global production has been curtailed because it’s unprofitable, according to a report from consultants Wood Mackenzie Ltd. that highlights the industry’s resilience.
The analysis, published ahead of an annual oil-industry gathering in London next week, suggests that oil prices will need to drop even more — or stay low for a lot longer — to meaningfully reduce global production. OPEC and major oil companies like BP Plc and Occidental Petroleum Corp. are betting that low oil prices will drive production down, eventually lifting prices. That’s taking longer than expected, in part due to the resilience of the U.S. shale industry and slumping currencies in oil-rich countries, which have lowered production costs in nations from Russia to Brazil.
(The Fuse) It seems fitting that oil prices fell back under $30 on the day that two major oil companies reported disastrous earnings results showing the damage of the past year and a half. The decline in prices that began in mid-2014 has wreaked havoc across all different types of companies—NOCs, IOCs, independents, oil majors, oilfield services—and there seems to be no respite in the short run. Companies are continuing to lay off staff, cut back on projects, and report eye-opening losses.
(Bloomberg) The long-term credit rating for the world’s third-largest oil producer by market value was reduced one level to A+, the fifth-highest investment grade, from AA-, and was placed on watch for another possible reduction, the ratings company said in a statement Monday. S&P also assigned a negative outlook to BP Plc, Eni SpA, Repsol SA, Statoil ASA and Total SA.
Oil has fallen more than 70 percent since June 2014. The slump accelerated after Saudi Arabia led the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ decision in November 2014 to maintain output and defend market share against higher-cost producers including U.S. shale drillers.
(The Fuse) Oil prices plunged to fresh decade-plus lows by mid-January amid concerns over persistent oversupply and the faltering Chinese economy. A growing chorus is projecting oil to drop as far as $25 or $20 per barrel before all is said and done, with some even raising the prospect of sub-$20 oil.
There are some places where oil already passed those lowly depths weeks ago, most notably Canada. While WTI and Brent hover around $30 per barrel, Western Canadian Select (WCS), a benchmark for heavy crude in Canada, has plunged to less than half that level.