The struggle between fears that the US sanctions will lead to an oil shortage and the intensifying US-China trade war will lead to a depression continued last week. Oil prices fell on Monday, climbed smartly for three days, and then fell again on Friday as the trade war took a turn for the worse. The week ended with prices higher — $62.76 in New York and $72.21 in London.
Uncertainty was the watchword of the week as oil traders juggled the faltering US/China trade deal, increasing tensions in the Middle East, and falling US crude stocks. Oil futures gyrated in a narrow range closing at $70.62 in London and $61.68 in New York with a small weekly loss. The EIA reported a 4-million-barrel drop in US crude inventories the week before last, and there remains a question as to how fast US oil production is increasing. Brent crude futures have opened up a steep backwardation, evidence that the physical market for crude is tightening. Given that Iranian exports are plunging, Russia’s are temporarily lower due to contaminated oil, and the future of Libyan and Venezuelan oil exports is cloudy, higher oil prices would seem to be coming. Some financial institutions are bullish for oil.
After climbing more than $20 a barrel from $52 in late December to nearly $75 on April 23rd, prices have fallen back so that Brent closed at $70.85 on Friday. Despite threats to the oil supply from the geopolitical situations in Iran, Libya, Venezuela, and Nigeria, prices have been falling for the last two weeks. Last week prices fell to recent lows after the US stocks’ reports showed unexpected crude oil builds for two weeks in a row and EIA said that US oil production was growing again after holding steady for two weeks. It takes about 60 days to compile accurate US production data. EIA estimates and forecasts of US production have been a bit shaky of late so we will not know if the prediction that US shale oil output grew by 84,000 b/d to a record of 8.4 million in March is correct until the end of this month.
Last week began with oil prices continuing to climb on concerns that tightening sanctions on Iran would cut oil supplies. Brent crude touched $75 for a short time after Moscow announced that it was halting some crude shipments to Europe due to contaminated pipelines. Thursday afternoon market sentiment reversed, and prices plunged circa $3 a barrel to close at $62.86 in New York and $71.61 in London on Friday. The price drop was helped by a presidential tweet that said “Spoke to Saudi Arabia and others about increasing oil flow. All are in agreement.”
Oil prices continued to climb slowly last week with Brent closing just below $72 a barrel, a new high for the year, and New York futures closed $8 a barrel lower at $64. Prices are still about $13 a barrel below the 2018 high of $85 set last October. The news last week was generally bullish with the Saudis reporting an official 277,000 b/d drop in February, Iran having trouble selling its oil, Venezuela’s production continuing to fall, and the prospect that the civil war in Libya seems likely to reduce its exports. China reported that its massive dose of pump priming appears to have stabilized its economic slowdown for now and Washington keeps talking about an end to the China-US trade dispute.
Oil prices continued to creep up last week closing out at $71.55 in London and $63.89 in New York, making the sixth consecutive week of gains. If you have been watching your gas pumps lately, you have noted that regular is up 30 cents a gallon in the last month to average $2.83 in the US. In California, however, regular is just about $4 a gallon and is going for $4.62 in one county.
Prices have climbed steadily for the last three months closing on Friday above $60 a barrel in New York and $67 in London. The combination of slowing US shale oil drilling and the Venezuela, Iran, and the OPEC+ situations continue to outweigh the bad economic news that may someday lower demand. The situation in Venezuela gets worse every day, and it seems likely that the country will see a significant drop in production and exports during March.
Prices climbed for the first three trading days last week on the perception that oil supplies were tightening due to the OPEC+ cuts, the US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, and a 9.6-million-barrel decline in US crude stocks. Prices in London closed on Wednesday at $68.50 — a four-month high. However, market sentiments changed on Thursday and Friday as fears of an economic slowdown hit the equity and oil markets. Signals from the Federal Reserve that there may not be any more interest rate increases this year contributed to the idea that harder economic times are ahead. A report on Friday showed factory output in the eurozone fell in March at the fastest pace in nearly six years, while US manufacturing activity slipped to its lowest level in almost two years.
The struggle between a weakening global economy and the shrinking availability of oil supplies seems to be tipping in favor of the latter as oil prices slowly make their way higher. The electric power disruption in Venezuela has combined with the US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela and reports that the rapid increase in US shale oil production to add a bullish tone to the oil markets. Last week oil prices climbed $1-2 a barrel to close at $67 in London and $58 in New York. Last week a new EIA forecast cast doubt on the optimistic projections for US shale oil production which was slated to increase from 11.9 million b/d at the end of 2018 to 13.5 million by the end of 2020.
The struggle between declining economic growth and falling oil supplies continued to affect oil prices last week. The failure of a significant portion of Venezuela’s electricity grid has already been a significant blow to the country’s roughly 1 million b/d of oil production, and the situation seems likely to get worse. However, part of this decline could be offset by the return to production of Libya’s 300,000 b/d Sharara oilfield after being offline for three months.
The struggle between lower crude output and the prospects for a global economic setback that could reduce the demand for oil continued last week. Prices rose on bullish news early in the week and then fell to close only slightly higher for the week at $55.80 in New York and $65.07 in London. Most analysts are predicting that oil prices will continue to rise as the case for lower production later this year seems stronger than the case for lower demand.
Brent crude futures briefly touched $67.73 a barrel on Friday, their 2019 high. The London contract then fell 5 cents to settle at $67.12 a barrel while US futures US gained 30 cents to settle at $57.26 per barrel, after hitting $57.81 earlier in the day. Despite forecasts that US shale oil production will continue to increase rapidly next month, supply disruptions in Venezuela and Libya, the 1.8 million-barrel OPEC+ production cut, and hopes that the US-China trade dispute may be settled soon, were enough to push prices higher last week. Prices have now gained about $5 a barrel since mid-February but are still some $20 a barrel below the recent highs set last October.
Prices moved higher last week as the markets perceived that production problems in Venezuela and elsewhere might outweigh any decline in demand that could take place if global economic growth slows. London oil climbed by nearly $5 a barrel last week to close at $66.25. This is still about $20 a barrel lower than the recent peak set last October, but up about $16 a barrel from the early January low.
Oil prices have moved very little in the past month closing on Friday at $52.72 in NY and $62.10 in London or about where they were in the first week of January. Several factors such as the recent price drop, the OPEC+ production cut, the US sanctions on Tehran and Caracas, and the outage of Libya’s largest field should be pushing prices higher. However, concerns about slowing global economic growth, the US/China trade dispute, and the possibility of turmoil resulting from the UK’s exit from the EU suggest that the demand for oil could drop significantly in the coming year.
Oil prices continue to hover in the low $50s in the US and low $60s in London – about where they have been since early January. The main issue affecting prices remains the efficacy of the OPEC+ production cut vs. US shale oil production and the slowing Chinese economy. Last week a political upheaval occurred in Venezuela, raising the possibility that Caracas would no longer be able to export 500,000 b/d to the US or that its production might fall below its current 1 million b/d level. So far, the Venezuelan turmoil has not moved oil prices, but with the world’s major powers lining up for or against the Maduro government, prices seem likely to be affected.
Oil prices continue to climb steadily closing up about $3-4 a barrel by the end of last week. Behind the move are concerns that US shale oil production this year may not be as strong as forecast; lower OPEC production; and reports that the US and China are making progress towards ending their trade war. New York futures closed at $53.80 on Friday, while London closed at $62.70. This leaves London’s Brent about $12 a barrel higher than it was at the end of December, but $22 lower than it was in September. These prices should make the OPEC exporters happier but may not be high enough to keep shale oil production increasing as fast as predicted.
Oil prices continued to climb last week and are now some $10 a barrel higher than they were just before Christmas when recent lows were set. Prices now have retraced about 30 percent of the $35 a barrel drop that took place between late September and late December. Part of the recent price correction likely is due to technical factors such as closing out long positions in the futures markets. The news that the Saudis will cut even more production than specified in their recent pledge in hopes of raising world prices to $80 a barrel was an important part of last week’s price jump. Hopes that the US and China would settle their trade dispute during on-going talks was also an important factor in the recent price jump.
Since hitting a recent low on Dec 22nd, oil prices have climbed by $5-6 a barrel as the markets tried to sort out where supply and demand are going. With US oil prices still below $50 a barrel, it is hard to imagine that the optimistic forecasts for US shale oil production will be reached in 2019. There are continuing indications that China’s economy is headed for a dip, but there are reports that US/China trade negotiations are making progress. The US sanctions on Iran seem to be hurting Tehran’s exports, and the OPEC+ production cut is slow getting off the ground.
It was a volatile week for oil prices with WTI falling on Monday to nearly $42 a barrel and London falling to $51. Oil surged on Wednesday, after posting on Christmas day its strongest daily gain in more than two years from the steep losses on Monday that pushed crude benchmarks to lows not seen since 2017. Both US and Brent crude rose about 8 percent, their largest one-day increase since Nov. 30, 2016, when OPEC signed a landmark agreement to cut production. The week closed out with oil at $45.33 a barrel in New York and $53.21 in London.
Oil prices fell by more than 11 percent last week to their lowest since mid-2017 with London futures closing at $53.82 and New York at $45.59. There is much debate as to whether the rapid fall in prices is due to oversupply or fears of a global economic recession slowing the demand for oil. Forecasts of rapidly growing US shale oil production next year that could offset much of the OPEC+ production cut and growing political chaos in Washington, London, Paris, and other world capitals is adding to concerns about the future.
Oil prices were volatile last week trading inside a narrow range of about $1.50 a barrel and climbing or falling in response to the news of the day. Reports of the OPEC production freeze, the Iran sanctions, or production slowdowns in Libya and Venezuela push prices up while news of economic problems and falling equity markets tend to push prices down. At week’s end, New York futures settled at $51.20, about where they have been since the $7 a barrel price in mid-November. London futures closed $9 higher at $60.28 which is about they have been since November 22nd.
Oil prices surged briefly on Friday after the announcement of a 1.2 million b/d OPEC+ production cut; however, by the close NY futures were up only $1.61 to close at $52.61, and London was up about the same to close at $61.67. The bulk of the cut is to come from the Saudis and their Gulf Arab allies. Moscow is to cut production by 228,000 b/d but does not expect its cuts to start until spring, and the Iranians were exempted from the cut. Despite the announcement, oil prices were still down slightly for the week.
Quote of the Week “Total US oil reserves in 2017 exceeded a … 47-year-old record, highlighting the importance of crude oil development in shales and low permeability plays, mainly in Continue Reading
Oil prices slid more than 6 percent on Friday to the lowest levels in more than a year. New York futures closed at $50.42, down almost $26 a barrel since early October, and London closed at $58.80, down more than $27. The reasons for the plunge, which some observers are calling excessive, are well known. Inventories continue to build as US shale oil production increases; there are signs of a weaker global economy ahead; Washington has granted six-month waivers for Iranian oil importers; Moscow is not interested in cutting production; and there are doubts that the Saudis will make a significant cut in production while under pressure from President Trump to keep up production. Trump’s support for Crown Prince bin Salman in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is likely to complicate decision-making in Riyadh, to say the least.
The $20 a barrel price plunge, which began in early October, continued last week with New York futures closing at $56.46 and London at $66.76. Behind the drop is weaker demand; Washington’s issuance of waivers that would allow Iran to keep exporting at least some of its production for the next six months; increasing production of US shale oil; and the rapid buildup of US crude inventories. The EIA reported last week that the US crude stockpile climbed by 10.3 million barrels during the week before last to 442.1 million barrels, the highest level since early December 2017. The EIA also reported that US crude production climbed by 100,000 b/d to 11.7 million b/d, the highest on record.