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Dan Dicker

Dan Dicker

Dan Dicker is a 25 year veteran of the New York Mercantile Exchange where he traded crude oil, natural gas, unleaded gasoline and heating oil…

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Are The Saudis Keeping Oil Prices Suppressed?

Saudi Arabia

We've seen very little recently to dissuade us from the thesis of much higher oil prices to come. EIA charts here on oilprice.com consistently show just how far short of projections the US is going to be to expected production this year.

And if we scan the news, the continuing bullish headlines are just about everywhere.

Permian production is getting handcuffed further by takeaway capacity, here's another chart showing the increasing amount of associated gas in the Permian that is being flared as pipeline space becomes more and more dear.

(Click to enlarge)

Around the globe, oil producers everywhere are showing signs of slowing production growth. Mexico's incoming President is considering stopping auctions for leases from foreign oil companies, and toying with joining OPEC. Venezuela continues its free-fall as the vultures circle the carcass of state-run CITGO, trying to extract what little is left. After the long break of corruption trials and settlements with US oil companies, Brazil has again opened up auctions for leases in the Pre-Salt offshore region. Despite the opportunities there, Campos basin production has continued its steady drift downwards.

Renewed Iranian sanctions are beginning to kick in, with the likely expectation of dropping their exports by up to 1m barrels a day.

OPEC and Russia are looking to formalize their cooperation on production, considering just how well that’s worked out in the past two years to bolster higher oil prices. Even in the futures markets themselves, back oil prices have shown steadiness, and even rallied, despite oil's fall in the last several sessions:

(Click to enlarge)

Nothing but bullish signs everywhere. And yet, just as oil reached again the $70 threshold during the rally this week, it stopped. And I think I know why.

Rumors have been circulating from my sources for more than a week, and this story, claiming that the Saudis are 'satisfied' with oil between $70 and $80 adds tremendous support to the rumor.

The rumor is that Saudi Arabia have agreed with President Trump to keep oil prices in check until the midterms. We know the Saudis have the capability to do that – but why would they?

The only reason could be because the Saudi Aramco IPO, which was supposedly called off last week is very much still on – but now being helped by the US President. The talk is that Trump is going to use his influence in Washington and New York to ‘soften’ the disclosure and due diligence that the major exchanges are requiring for the Aramco offering – allowing the listing to proceed at the New York Stock Exchange. That gives the IPO the ‘big stage’ it must have if it has any chance of achieving the $2 trillion valuation that the Saudis want. But the Saudi Aramco IPO needs more than a big stage to match that vaunted valuation. It also needs $100+ oil prices – which every indicator says we’re going to get in 2019, including the curve flattening in oil prices you're seeing in the chart above.

So, if the rumor is right, you’ve got less than 10 weeks to position yourself for what could be the next huge leg up in oil prices – and oil stocks. When the Saudis announced their satisfaction with $70 oil, prices immediately plummeted. But this strikes me as another opportunity to buy oil stocks at a discount, before the fundamental supply shortages we've outlined can no longer be held back and really begin to be felt.

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