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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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Goldman: Don’t Expect U.S. Oil Prices To Recover Soon

The recovery in U.S. oil prices is still weeks away, Goldman Sachs' head of commodities Jeffrey Currie told CNBC's Power Lunch.

The reason for the note of caution is because cutting oil production is not a simple matter. It takes time and costs money, and, perhaps more importantly, it could damage the well, Currie said.

"Shutting down a well is extremely expensive, and sometimes you damage the well forever," he told CNBC, adding that, "We don't think this is the end of it. You're likely to see this continue to go on at least through the middle of May."

West Texas Intermediate slumped to more than minus $38 a barrel yesterday. The slump into negative territory—the first in history—was, in large part, driven by traders exiting their positions in the futures market to avoid physical delivery of the crude that they had bought earlier.

However, there has been no change yet in demand for crude oil globally, and U.S. producers are running out of storage space for their product. The shortage of storage space also contributed to WTI's 300-percent dive from yesterday.

In this environment, Goldman's Currie is far from alone in expecting more pain. 

"This will cause a lot of people to shut in (their wells). At these prices, there's no way," the Houston Chronicle quoted a Texas oil and gas investor as saying in comments on the news about WTI's dive into negative territory. "It reminds me of the '80s in a way, but this thing is worse. Incredible, absolutely incredible."

Reuters reported this week that oil in floating storage had reached a record high at 160 million barrels last week, according to sources from the shipping industry. That was a 100-percent increase over the previous week as traders scrambled to store their unsold and currently unsellable oil.

In the United States, the federal government was reportedly in talks with nine companies to lease storage space from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The SPR has a capacity of 713 million barrels of crude, with the current level of occupancy at 635 million barrels.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on April 21 2020 said:
    US shale oil producers have been for years taking advantage of OPEC+’s production cuts to enhance their market share at the expense of OPEC+ members by producing excessively even at a loss and undermining OPEC+ efforts to support oil prices by trying to cap them. Shale oil producers haven’t even spared a thought for other oil-producing nations of the world whose livelihood they have trampled on for years with the full knowledge that US tax payers will bail them out even when their outstanding debts are heading towards $1 trillion.

    When they had a chance to contribute to OPEC+-led global efforts to cut production in support of oil prices, they were very noticeable in their refusal. Therefore, it is high time they share some of the pain most oil-producing countries of the world have suffered for years.

    It is hoped that their current ordeal might teach them to mend their ways and cooperate with OPEC and other non-OPEC producers to stabilize oil prices once the coronavirus outbreak is over.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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