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Peak Oil Review

Peak Oil Review – 20 Feb 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 20 Feb 2017

Oil prices have moved little since they jumped from the mid-$40s to the mid-$50s in late November. Last week was no exception. OPEC hints about extending the price cuts beyond mid-year supported prices last week despite several indicators which suggested that the surplus may continue and it may be difficult to rebalance the markets in the short term.

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Peak Oil Review – 13 Feb 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 13 Feb 2017

Oil prices rebounded last week as the IEA confirmed that the ten OPEC members obligated to cut oil production are making good progress and obtained 91 percent of their goal by the end of January. The agency also reported that OECD crude stocks fell by nearly 800,000 b/d in the 4th quarter of 2016 although stocks continued to grow in China and other emerging economies. If OPEC and the other production cutters can maintain this level of cuts for the next five months, the IEA says that global stockpiles should drop by about 600,000 b/d during the first half of this year. This was the kind of news that many oil speculators wanted to hear. Hedge fund bets on higher oil prices have surged in recent weeks as many markets participants say they are expecting higher oil prices later this year.

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Peak Oil Review – 6 Feb 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 6 Feb 2017

With the advent of the Trump administration and Republican control of the Congress, the world oil situation seems likely to become more uncertain than usual. In the last two weeks, the new President has signed numerous executive orders that will have an impact on the oil industry in coming years. The President and the Republicans in Congress will soon have done everything they can to launch a new oil boom by reducing environmental and financial regulations; permitting whatever pipelines the oil industry wants to build; and opening federally-controlled property and offshore areas for drilling. Republicans have long held that America would be energy independent were it not for the restrictions unfairly placed on the industry. While these measures may eventually spur more drilling, for the time being, however, oil prices and the demand for oil will still determine investment decisions. Some are questioning whether the Keystone XL will be built in the near future given the relatively low oil prices and the shale oil boom that have become important since the pipeline was planned.

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Peak Oil Review – 30 Jan 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 30 Jan 2017

Prices moved slightly higher last week as the markets continued to watch the decline in oil production by most OPEC members and a few other exporters interested in seeing oil move higher. The evidence continues to accumulate that progress is being made in achieving OPEC’s 1.8 million b/d cut. In addition to a number of OPEC luminaries who assured the world that the cuts are happening and that the markets would be balanced shortly, tanker-tracker Petro-Logistics said that its information indicates that OPEC will reduce its supply by 900,000 b/d in January. This number does not include 11 non-OPEC members that are also supposed to be cutting production 600,000 b/d. The CEO of Petro-Logistics which has been monitoring tanker movements for 30 years said this suggests “a high level of compliance thus far.”

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Peak Oil Review – 23 Jan 2017

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Peak Oil Review – 23 Jan 2017

Three themes dominated the oil news last week. 1. Will OPEC with Russian help succeed in cutting production enough to rebalance the oil markets and move prices significantly higher? 2. Will the US oil industry rebound so vigorously as to offset the OPEC cuts? 3. And finally what will the be the impact of all the new energy policies the Trump administration is beginning to implement?

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Peak Oil Review – 9 Jan 2017

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For the last month oil prices have been stuck in a trading range in New York of between $52 and $54 a barrel. In London, oil has been trading two or three dollars higher. After a 30 percent jump in the last six weeks of 2016 in response to the OPEC production freeze, prices have stabilized as the markets wait to see the degree of compliance with the pledged production cuts. It may take several months to establish a clear trend as so many nations are involved in the cut. While a few countries, particularly the US, publish oil production and inventory statistics weekly, others do a poor job of collecting statistics. A few release incorrect production numbers they know to be untrue for a variety of political reasons.

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Peak Oil Review – 2 Jan 2017

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Most of the discussion last week focused on the year just past and what 2017 will bring. Oil prices barely moved during the holiday week closing out the year at $53.72 in New York and $56.82. During 2016, however, US futures closed up about 45 percent for the year and London about 52 percent. It was quite the year for the oil industry with prices ranging from $30 to $55 a barrel; the election of fossil-fuel-friendly Donald Trump to the US presidency; and the OPEC/Russia production cut agreement deemed responsible for the record price rebound during the year.

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Peak Oil Review – 26 Dec 2016

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For the last two weeks, oil prices have hovered around $53 a barrel in New York, and a couple of dollars higher in London. Optimism that an agreement among the major oil producers will actually lead to a 1.8 million b/d production cut during 2017 is being balanced off by a stronger dollar, the revival of Libyan and Nigerian oil production, and a steady increase in the US shale-oil rig count.

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Peak Oil Review – 12 Dec 2016

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Peak Oil Review – 12 Dec 2016

On Saturday, OPEC and non-OPEC oil exporters agreed to an additional 562,000 b/d non-OPEC production cut in addition to the 1.2 million b/d cut that OPEC agreed on last week. At the meeting, Mexico pledged to cut 100,000 b/d, Azerbaijan 35,000 b/d, Oman 40,000 b/d, and Kazakhstan 20,000 b/d after strong diplomatic pressure was applied. Some analysts expressed doubt as to whether the cuts pledged by Mexico and Azerbaijan are valid reductions as their production was on course to decline by that much anyway next year due to natural depletion. The Kazakh cut, however, was seen as important as the country was due to increase production in 2017 by 160,000 b/d as its giant new oil field came in production.

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Peak Oil Review – 5 Dec 2016

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Peak Oil Review – 5 Dec 2016

The agreement between OPEC and Russia came as a surprise for most. Until the Vienna meeting started, there was much pessimism that a deal would be reached and all indications had been that negotiations were deadlocked over the issue of who would cut by how much. The breakthrough seems to have come when Moscow changed its position from “freeze but no production cut” to agreeing to reduce output by 300,000 b/d from the 11.2 million b/d it reached in November. This change, plus the agreement by Baghdad to cut oil production by 210,000 b/d, was enough to convince the Saudis to cut by 486,000 b/d and the other Gulf Arab states would join in for at total Gulf Arab cut of 786,000 b/d. Libya, Nigeria, and Indonesia were left out of the agreement and Tehran was allowed to increase production by 90,000 b/d to 3.8 million – somewhat short of their 4 million b/d goal. Given the bad relations between Riyadh and Tehran, allowing the Iranians to continue increasing production was the toughest part of the deal for the Saudis to swallow.

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Peak Oil Review – 28 Nov 2016

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Peak Oil Review – 28 Nov 2016

Oil prices were steady in the first part of the week as the markets waited for news about the OPEC meeting this week. When it was announced on Friday that the Saudis would not attend a preliminary meeting with the Russians and other non-OPEC members, prices dropped about $2 a barrel to close circa $46 in New York and $47 in London. Although analysts and market traders remain skeptical that any significant agreement will be reached, the week began with a spate of reports from “insiders” that “progress” was being made.

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Peak Oil Review – 21 Nov 2016

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Peak Oil Review – 21 Nov 2016

Oil prices climbed on Monday but then held steady for the rest of the week as talk of an OPEC agreement balanced against a stronger dollar and increasing global oil surpluses. At week’s end, New York futures settled at $45.69, about $2 above the recent lows touched the week before last, but $7 below the tops of the speculative bubbles set in June and early October.

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Peak Oil Review – 14 Nov 2016

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Peak Oil Review – 14 Nov 2016

Last week oil prices suffered their fourth losing week in a row as OPEC continued to argue over a possible production freeze/cut and oil production continued to grow adding to the surplus. At week’s end, futures prices were down to $43.41 in New York and $44.75 in London. The surprising US election results roiled for a few hours on after the results became known, but prices settled on Wednesday with a small gain and were down on Thursday and Friday on new reports of oil production increases and stockpile builds.

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Peak Oil Review – 7 Nov 2016

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Peak Oil Review – 7 Nov 2016

Oil prices continued to slide last week with New York futures down by nearly $8 a barrel from the recent highs set in mid-October. The week closed out with NY at $44.07 and London at $45.58. The hype over an OPEC production freeze which has been driving prices up since last spring is no longer moving prices higher. OPEC and Russia have to come up with a significant production cut in the next three weeks or be faced with lower prices until supply and demand come back into balance from economic forces. The final OPEC meeting to approve a cut is only three weeks away (November 30th) and so far no progress has been made at preliminary meetings that were intended to work out details.

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Peak Oil Review – 31 Oct 2016

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Peak Oil Review – 31 Oct 2016

Oil prices trended down last week to register the biggest loss in six weeks. At the close New York futures were at $49.27, down from $50.50 on Monday, and London was trading at $50.03. There was a brief rally during the week when US crude stocks came in lower than expected, but the week’s decline came mainly because traders lost faith that OPEC will be able to reach agreement on a production freeze.

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Peak Oil Review – 24 Oct 2016

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Peak Oil Review – 24 Oct 2016

Except for a brief spike on Wednesday following the release of the EIA’s stocks report, oil prices were relatively stable last week trading around $51-52 a barrel in New York and London. Little price movement can be expected until the OPEC/Russia combine agrees on the nature of a production freeze, if any. Last week, there were mixed signals from Moscow as to just what their intentions regarding a freeze would be. With several countries expecting an exemption from any production cap, the bulk of the cut would likely fall on the Saudis and the other Gulf Arab states. The IEA is still saying that it does not expect the price of oil to go much above $60 in the near future as US shale oil producers would quickly flood the markets, offsetting any OPEC freeze of the size under discussion.

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Peak Oil Review – 17 Oct 2016

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Peak Oil Review – 17 Oct 2016

Last week started with a flurry of speculator optimism deriving from the World Energy Congress in Istanbul during which the Russians backed Saudi efforts to raise prices using a production freeze, the details of which have yet to be determined. For the rest of the week, oil prices moved little as various reports affecting the oil markets showed that it is unlikely that a significant OPEC/Russian production agreement can be negotiated. The week ended with New York futures settling at $50.35 and London at $51.95. Most analysts do not expect any significant change in prices until the fate of the freeze becomes known around the end of November. In the meantime, technical exchange meetings will take place to see if an agreement can be worked out. Recent and projected increases in OPEC production make it likely that considerably larger production cuts than were agreed to at Algiers will be necessary to move prices higher. Goldman Sachs warned last week that the planned Russian/OPEC production freeze is unlikely to be enough to rebalance the markets in 2017.

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Peak Oil Review – 10 Oct 2016

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Peak Oil Review – 10 Oct 2016

The rally that began with the announcement of the OPEC production freezes in late September continued through Thursday last week. There is much skepticism that the tentative agreement, which will not be signed for another six weeks, will have a significant impact on global oil supplies. Crude prices slipped on Friday settling at $49.81 in New York and $51.93 in London. The 10-day rally now has taken prices up by about $5 a barrel. OPEC and the Russians have figured out that just talking about supply cuts can increase oil revenues substantially. A $5 price jump increases OPEC’s revenues from pumping roughly 33 million b/d by some $160 million a day.

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Peak Oil Review – 19 Sep 2016

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Oil prices continued to fall last week, closing Friday in New York at $43.39 and $46 in London. There was considerable news tending to push prices lower. OPEC and the IEA revised their forecasts for the next year and concluded that the imbalance in the oil markets would continue into 2017 vs. predictions that the gap would close this fall. This coupled with increased Iranian production; the possibility that Libya and Nigeria oil production will soon rebound; the report that Bakken shale oil production grew in July and EIA’s admission that US oil production is not falling as rapidly as forecast; all contributed to the weaker oil markets.

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Peak Oil Review – 12 Sep 2016

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It was a volatile week, with New York futures starting out at around $43 a barrel on Monday, climbing to $47.50 on Thursday and then falling to close at $45.88 on Friday. The major event last week was the EIA status report, which came out on Thursday, reporting a near-record fall in the US crude stocks of 14.5 million barrels from the week before last. This was the largest weekly drop in 17 years and set off a short-lived buying frenzy. Traders ignored the impact of tropical storm Hermine which was thrashing around in the Gulf that week, closing production platforms and delaying tanker arrivals along the Gulf and East Coasts. The EIA reported that US crude imports were down by 12.6 million barrels from the week before, and that US refineries were running at 93.7 percent of capacity to satisfy US gasoline consumption demand over Labor Day. By Friday, traders realized that the crude drop was likely a one-off event and not the beginning of a trend.

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Peak Oil Review – 5 Sep 2016

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The struggle between fundamentals and speculators’ dreams of much higher prices continued last week with oil futures falling through Thursday and then rebounding on Friday to close at $44.44 in NY and $46.83 in London, down about $2.50 for the week. The fundamentals include growing stockpiles, increasing US and Canadian rig counts, and fears that US interest rates will be going up shortly which will lead to a stronger dollar and lower oil prices.

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Peak Oil Review – 29 Aug 2016

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Oil futures fell some 3 percent in New York and 2 percent in London last week, settling at $47.64 and $49.92 respectively. The markets have become volatile of late with traders reacting to nearly every API or EIA report and every utterance from the Saudi or Iranian oil ministers. Last week the markets were pressured by numerous comments pro and con the possibility of an oil production freeze next month; a jump in Chinese diesel exports; comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that there could be a price-depressing rate increase sooner-rather-than-later; increased exports from Iraq via Kurdistan; the possibility of a ceasefire in Nigeria; sluggish US and Chinese economies; and a jump in US crude and oil product inventories.

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Peak Oil Review – 22 Aug 2016

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Oil prices climbed another $3 a barrel last week as traders continued to hope that not only will OPEC and Russia agree to a production freeze next month, but that it will eventually result in the elimination of global oversupply and reduce global stockpiles to a normal level. The week closes with New York futures at $48.52 and London at $50.88.

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Peak Oil Review – 15 Aug 2016

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Oil prices climbed a bit on Monday, fell on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then surged upwards on Thursday and Friday after the Saudi energy minister said his country would be willing to discuss rebalancing the oil market. The minister said Saudi Arabia would “take any action to help” the crude market and will discuss the issue at a meeting in Septmber. Coupled with an EIA forecast that foresees a “sustained tightening” of the crude markets and a reduction in product stocks, New York futures prices now have climbed from below $40 a barrel early in the month to a close of $44.49 on Friday. The IEA says that a combination of falling production and increasing demand, which will be up by 1.4 million b/d in 2016, means that there will be no oversupply in the second half of this year. The Agency believes that refinery processing of crude is now down about 500,000 b/d year over year and projects that production in North and South America alone will be down by 700,000 b/d in the third quarter.

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Peak Oil Review – 1 Aug 2016

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Oil prices fell steadily during July as the realities of oversupply trumped traders’ hopes that there would be balanced markets and higher prices later this year. July opened with London trading just below $51 a barrel and New York around $49.50. By month’s end, London was down to $42.71 and New York to $40.74. The month’s trading was dominated by reports of increasing oil product inventories and higher OPEC production. The decline of nearly $10 a barrel naturally has had repercussions across the oil industry. For most of July, the US rig count was growing as drillers anticipated that crude prices would soon be at a level where more wells would be profitable. By month’s end, however, these hopes had been dashed, and the US oil rig count had nearly stopped growing.

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