When writing about markets, here and elsewhere, I usually try to avoid the temptation to write sensational things. Words like “collapse” and “crash”, or “surge” and “explode” attract clicks, which in turn often translates to cash for a writer, but major events like that are rare. That is all fine and logical, but…WTI really does look like it is about to collapse.
Let’s be clear, I am not necessarily talking about a return to the sub-$30 of the beginning of 2016 here, but a return to the more recent lows around $42 before too long is distinctly possible, and if that happens, who knows where we go from there? There are, as I have noted in the past, reasons to believe that the long-term path of oil is still upward, but more immediately there is one dominant factor that keeps adding downward pressure, large and still growing supply from North American shale producers.
Some say, as in this FT piece, that there are signs that U.S. shale production has peaked, but then that was also supposed to be the case in 2015 and 2016. I am sure that if I could bother to go back further I would find that the same thing was said in previous years too. The fact is though, that as the EIA chart below shows, after dropping off as price declined at earlier this year, U.S. crude production is growing again and will be higher this year than last and is expected to be higher again in 2018.
(Click to enlarge)