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.
The plunge in oil prices, which began in early October, continued last week with New York oil futures closing Friday at $63.14, down about $14 a barrel in the past month. London futures have followed a similar pattern falling from $86 to $72.83 on Friday. During September the threat of the renewed US sanctions on Iranian exports forced world prices into the high $80s with many predicting that we would soon see $100 oil again. During the past month, however, market sentiment changed as it appeared the sanctions might not be as effective as some hoped, the global oil production increase, higher prices and the brewing US-China trade war threaten demand in the coming years.
Oil prices fell by nearly 3 percent last week to settle at $77.62 in London and $67.59 in New York. This was the third weekly decline in a row that has taken prices down by about $10 a barrel since early October. As has been the case for several months, prices fall on reports of excess supply or the possibility of lower demand and increase on concerns about what the Iran sanctions due to begin next week will do to supplies.
Crude oil prices have been volatile thus far in October, hitting a four-year high to start the month before falling nearly $8 a barrel in the two weeks. At the close on Friday, New York futures were at $69.12 and London at $79.78. Market sentiments have changed this month with more traders worrying about the economic problems facing China than how effective the US sanctions on Iranian exports will be.
Oil futures fell by over $4 a barrel on Wednesday and Thursday but then stabilized on Friday to close at $71 in New York and $80 in London. Behind the selloff were a sharp drop in the equity markets, profit-taking in the wake of a $14 a barrel price increase since mid-August, and concerns that the Sino/US trade war may reduce global demand for oil. EIA, IEA, and OPEC revised their forecasts downward for the size of next year’s demand increase. The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for global growth to 3.7 percent for 2018 and 2019, down from a previous estimate of 3.9 percent, and the EIA reported that US crude stocks increased by 6 million barrels the week before last.
Oil prices continued to climb last week, with London futures hitting $86.74 a barrel on Wednesday, $10 higher than they were a month ago. Later in the week, profit taking and announcements from the Saudis and Russia that they were going to increase production drove prices lower. Whether the Saudis, Russia, and their close allies can increase production by enough to cover the decline in Iranian exports remains contentious. At week’s end, oil prices had settled to $74.34 in New York and $84.16 in London for a $10 a barrel difference.
Oil prices continue to increase primarily on concerns that the sanctions on Iran and the collapse of Venezuelan production will lead to shortages in the coming year. Last week London futures, which are more vulnerable to the Iranian situation, climbed by about $2 a barrel to close at $82.78. London futures are on track for a fifth quarterly advance, a streak not seen since the first half of 2008. Iranian exports of crude and condensates have declined by 800,000 b/d from April to September, according to the Institute of International Finance. Analysts expect a reduction of anywhere between 500,000 and 1.5 million b/d in Iranian supply due to the sanctions, with most expecting Saudi Arabia to take the lead in filling any supply gaps.
Oil prices continued to show strength last week but closed in London up by less than a dollar for the week at $78.80. Brent now has closed above $78 a barrel six times since mid-May and has touched $80 a barrel once or twice but failed to close above $80 since mid-2014. As is now routine, traders are split between the increasingly effective US sanctions on Iran and the prospects of a lengthy trade war between the US and China. Last week was complicated by the issue of whether the OPEC+ consortium would officially raise production or leave individual production levels cloudy as they have been since June.
Oil prices climbed for the first three days last week with Brent climbing above $80 a barrel on Wednesday before falling back to close at $78.09 on Friday. An unexpected drop in the US crude stocks of 5.3 million barrels and a warning from the IEA that the global oil market was tightening and that higher prices are coming were behind the spike. However, concerns that the Sino/American trade war is showing no sign of getting better took over and sent prices lower. During the week, the price spread between Brent and WTI climbed above the $10 a barrel mark and closed the week at $9. The size of the price spread should continue the export demand for WTI in the coming weeks sending US crude supplies even lower.