COVID Market Update
Despite the vaccine optimism prevalent in the market that has successfully boosted oil prices to February levels, the oil market is still in trouble. OPEC has once again lowered its demand forecast for this year and next while simultaneously agreeing to boost production, and U.S. refiners are closing refineries, extending maintenance season, and upgrading less efficient units as demand for finished products continues to sag. U.S. inventories of crude and gasoline are still high, even though U.S. crude production is still more than 2 million bpd off this year’s high seen back in March. Rig counts in the U.S. continue to increase, and well completions are increasing at a quicker pace.
The Saudis have unleashed a ~$263 billion budget for 2021, which represents a 7% reduction on 2020’s estimated spending as lower oil prices continue to impact the deficit. The Saudi’s budget is almost entirely reliant on Saudi Aramco, which is now selling stakes in some of its subsidiaries so that it can keep up the generous dividend that it must pay out to The Kingdom.
Earlier this week, a ship laden with explosives rammed into an oil tanker off the port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with the Saudis suspecting the attack was orchestrated by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. No casualties have been reported, nor has anyone claimed responsibility for the attack as of the time of writing. This uptick in Iranian-backed Houthi activities…