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Another False Rally in Oil

Most people who study energy markets believe that, at some point, oil will recover, at least partially. Not even the most bullish observers see $110/Barrel oil returning in the foreseeable future but a bounce back to around $50 is a common prediction. Those predictions got a lot of airing this week as oil bounced off of the recent lows in the mid-$20s, but a look at the reasons for that bounce and the fundamental situation suggests that this may be just another false dawn, and at least one more test of the lows will be needed before there can be a meaningful, sustainable recovery in oil.

The main thing that sparked the rise was the revelation at the end of last week by the UAE Oil Minister that some OPEC countries were talking about the supply situation. As it became known that Russia and, more importantly, Saudi Arabia were involved it looked like something of real significance. There has been so much talk of the complete collapse of OPEC that any hint of agreement was seen as a positive for the commodity.

That sentiment was so strong that, even when the limited and somewhat disappointing details of the proposed agreement were released this week the rally continued. The fact that even the Iranians agreed to the proposed production freeze at current levels added fuel to the fire. In reality, though, a freeze at current levels does nothing to alleviate the pressure on oil. We are at record high production levels, and it will take some time for global demand, which…

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