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Have Oil Markets Reached A Tipping Point?


Despite bullish conditions led by a huge drawdown in U.S. crude, oil prices were down at the end of the week following less than positive OPEC reports. 

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Oil prices were down at the end of the week on fears of lingering oversupply. The U.S. reported a strong drawdown in crude inventories and flat production, although those bullish figures were outweighed slightly by an uptick in gasoline inventories. Investors chose to focus on rising OPEC supply, which led to a selloff in crude on Thursday and Friday.

IEA: Oil demand up; oil market rebalancing. In its latest monthly report, the IEA revised up its forecast for oil demand this year to 1.5 mb/d, up 100,000 bpd from last month. Oil demand growth continues into next year, expanding at an annual rate of 1.4 mb/d. The IEA also said that the rebalancing effort is continuing – the OPEC cuts, combined with demand growth, will erase the supply glut. Still, the agency said that the process is a stubborn one, and the growing signs of tightness in the market are being offset somewhat by the faltering compliance from OPEC.

IEA made large revisions to past oil data. The IEA revised oil demand data from the past few years. The revisions are important because they mean that the “call on OPEC” will be 400,000 bpd lower this year and in 2018, and the revisions also mean that global oil demand is actually 330,000 bpd less for the period between 2015-2018 than previously thought. Related: Falling Chinese Demand May Be OPEC’s Biggest Dilemma

Shale hiccups emerge in the Permian. Last week, Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE: PXD) reported a worrying increase in the gas-to-oil ratio from some of its Permian wells, a development that has alarmed investors. Pioneer’s stock price plunged on the news, and the sheen on U.S. shale is suddenly looking a little tarnished. Goldman Sachs backed up this sentiment when it wrote in a report that it has fielded calls from investors looking to “reallocate capital” out of shale E&Ps and into other parts of the energy industry. Some analysts think there isn’t much to see here, but judging by the recent stock declines from some top Permian players, the market has suddenly grown worried about the Permian.

OPEC upgrades oil demand projection. In a new report, OPEC boosted its oil demand estimate for the rest of this year and next. The group said that the global market would demand 200,000 bpd more than expected from the cartel this year, as consumption appears stronger than anticipated. At the same time, however, rising Libyan production has pushed the group’s output in July to its highest point so far this year. Libya added more than 150,000 bpd in July, pushing output above 1 mb/d. Saudi Arabia, surprisingly, also added 30,000 bpd, although some of that is surely to meet peak summer demand.

Oil futures flip into backwardation. The contango in the oil futures market has all but disappeared, with a slight backwardation emerging in the futures structure, which is when near-term contracts trade at a premium to futures further out. The backwardation is an indication that the market is tightening and the extreme bearishness drowning the market earlier this summer has diminished.

Andurand: $100 oil is coming. Famed hedge fund manager Pierre Andurand is betting that oil will rise to $100 per barrel, going against the conventional wisdom within the oil industry, which says that prices will remain depressed for years to come. Andurand’s hedge fund has lost 15 percent so far in 2017, but he still believes prices will spike before the end of the decade. “In 2014, after four years at being around $110 a barrel, most analysts were saying we’d never see prices go back below $100,” said Andurand, according to the FT. “Now everyone is arguing we’re never going back there, but I don’t really buy that the cost of production has gone down structurally or that electric cars will have a big enough impact on demand.” He argues that shale producers need much higher prices to grow over time, and in any event, shale won’t be enough to meet global demand in sever years’ time. “There will be cost inflation on the way. Will [shale] be profitable one day? Only if prices go up significantly.”

North Korea tension rattling commodity markets. The war of words between the U.S. and North Korea is starting to worry commodity traders. North Korea is in close proximity to China, South Korea and Japan, three of the world’s most voracious consumers of soy, LNG, coal, oil and other commodities. Bloomberg says that if tensions escalate, it could push up the cost of insurance for vessels, force changes in routes and ultimately push up costs all around. Shipping rates could spike by 20 or 30 percent if war broke out, according to Xinde Marine Services. Related: Goldman Sachs Warns Of Global Oil Demand Peak

Saudi Aramco prefers New York listing. Despite the recommendation from legal and financial advisers to list on the London Stock Exchange, Reuters reports that top Saudi officials would prefer to list the Aramco IPO in New York. London has fewer regulations, but the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wants to list in New York for “political considerations,” which is to say, to maintain and strengthen the strategic alliance with the U.S. A final decision has not been made.

British Columbia vows to stop key oil pipeline. The new left-leaning government in British Columbia has laid out plans to block Kinder Morgan’s (NYSE: KMI) Trans Mountain Expansion, a proposed twin line that will nearly triple the existing pipeline’s capacity, allowing 890,000 bpd of Alberta oil to reach the Pacific Coast. The pipeline was given a greenlight by the federal government, and is a crucial project that would allow oil from Alberta to reach the global market, helping to solve a perennial problem for the province, which has been bogged down in stalled pipeline projects. Kinder Morgan’s share price fell on the news.

By Tom Kool for Oilprice.com

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  • Citizen Oil on August 12 2017 said:
    Oh man, Pierre Andurand is grasping at straws not unlike what Andy Hall AKA "Oil God" was doing for years. Up,, up, and away goes your money. The energy industry has been the greatest accumulator and destroyer of wealth ever. As long as investors are excited about investing in companies that promote 15,20, 40% production increases per year in a demand growth of 1% , this commodity is doomed.

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