• 2 days PDVSA Booted From Caribbean Terminal Over Unpaid Bills
  • 2 days Russia Warns Ukraine Against Recovering Oil Off The Coast Of Crimea
  • 2 days Syrian Rebels Relinquish Control Of Major Gas Field
  • 2 days Schlumberger Warns Of Moderating Investment In North America
  • 2 days Oil Prices Set For Weekly Loss As Profit Taking Trumps Mideast Tensions
  • 2 days Energy Regulators Look To Guard Grid From Cyberattacks
  • 2 days Mexico Says OPEC Has Not Approached It For Deal Extension
  • 2 days New Video Game Targets Oil Infrastructure
  • 2 days Shell Restarts Bonny Light Exports
  • 2 days Russia’s Rosneft To Take Majority In Kurdish Oil Pipeline
  • 2 days Iraq Struggles To Replace Damaged Kirkuk Equipment As Output Falls
  • 3 days British Utility Companies Brace For Major Reforms
  • 3 days Montenegro A ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Untapped Oil, Gas In The Adriatic
  • 3 days Rosneft CEO: Rising U.S. Shale A Downside Risk To Oil Prices
  • 3 days Brazil Could Invite More Bids For Unsold Pre-Salt Oil Blocks
  • 3 days OPEC/Non-OPEC Seek Consensus On Deal Before Nov Summit
  • 3 days London Stock Exchange Boss Defends Push To Win Aramco IPO
  • 3 days Rosneft Signs $400M Deal With Kurdistan
  • 3 days Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 3 days India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 4 days Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 4 days Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 4 days Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 4 days Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 4 days Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 5 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 5 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 5 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 5 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 5 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 5 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 5 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 5 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 5 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 6 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 6 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 6 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 6 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 6 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 6 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham is a freelance writer on oil and gas, renewable energy, climate change, energy policy and geopolitics. He is based in Pittsburgh, PA.

More Info

Oil Price Recovery May Be Too Much Too Soon

Oil Price Recovery May Be Too Much Too Soon

Oil prices have hit their highest levels in 2015, with WTI surging above $60 per barrel. Crude oil inventories in the U.S. declined for the first time since December 2014, perhaps indicating that the glut could be easing.

The EIA reported that oil stockpiles fell by 3.9 million barrels for the week ending on May 1, a larger drop than expected. With rig counts falling by more than half since last year, this could be the beginning of a longer contraction. Both weekly production figures and the stock build appeared to have peaked, suggesting that supplies are adjusting lower and demand is rising.

USCrudeOilStocks

That has oil prices surging from their March lows, with WTI jumping over $15 per barrel, and Brent about $20 per barrel. Related: Oil Sector May Not Cause Financial Apocalypse After All

WTIPrices

But have the markets overreacted? The rise in oil prices over the last few weeks has been so rapid that few predicted it. Speculators have raised their bullish bets to the highest level in years. The optimism may not be justified. In the past, bets to such a degree have often been followed by a fallback in prices, the head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank told Reuters in an interview. Similarly, the top commodities official at Commerzbank told CNBC that the price rise was “premature,” and oil prices could dip back below $50 per barrel once the markets come to their senses.

In other words, the markets may have overshot, rising beyond levels warranted by the underlying fundamentals. Oil inventories are still at 80 year highs. The 487 million barrels of oil sitting in storage will take quite a while to drawdown. Crucially, oil production is still exceeding demand, leaving oil markets well-supplied. Related: A Potentially Massive Win For Fracking In Texas

Another reason that oil prices have room to drop is due to geopolitics. The recent run up in prices could partly be attributed to unrest in Libya. Protests cut off oil flows to the Libyan port of Zueitina in early May, reducing exports below 500,000 barrels per day from the war-torn country. However, if we have learned anything from Libya over the last year, it is that its oil production and exports are highly volatile – exports could rise once again, adding to global supplies.

There is still the potential for a major deal with Iran over its nuclear program. The possibility that Iranian crude could return to the market was widely covered after the framework agreement in early April. And while Iran’s oil would not begin to flow until 2016, the expectation of higher future supplies would push down prices immediately after news breaks that a deal is in hand. The deadline for negotiations is in June. Related: This Deal Could Completely Change North American Energy Dynamics

Perhaps the biggest question is how efficient drillers can become. In their quarterly earnings reports, shale companies have emphasized their success in reducing drilling costs, ultimately lowering the breakeven price at which they can produce. That remains to be seen. Prominent hedge fund manager David Einhorn had a different take. On May 4 he said that the industry is overvalued and can’t drill profitably even when oil prices were higher. “A business that burns cash and doesn’t grow isn’t worth anything,” Einhorn said.

Still, if prices remain above $60 per barrel, it could incentivize drillers to get back to work. The rig count, which has fallen by more than 57 percent, could start to level off and even reverse. Oil prices above $60 could be the magic threshold when drilling resumes. Both EOG Resources and Pioneer Natural Resources are eyeing a return to the shale patch this summer, as long as prices stay in the $65 per barrel range. New drilling – and the completion of thousands of drilled but unfinished wells – will bring new production onto the market, potentially sending prices seesawing back down.

Oil supplies are adjusting downwards, but the dramatic rise in oil prices may be too much, too soon.

By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • Roger Wren on May 08 2015 said:
    However, there also are some other possibilities.

    Obama could come to his senses and not make a bad deal with Iran. The current proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia could escalate and end up with them bombing each other's oil fields or terminals. Iran could start attacking tankers in Hormuz. Terrorists could start blowing up oil pipelines almost anywhere. The new far left government in Alberta could do something really stupid in the cause of social justice or of "the children". The Saudis could decide that they have made their point and lower their production.

    ect. ect. ect.

    You make your bets and take your chances.
  • Brian B. on May 08 2015 said:
    So why would EOG and Pioneer even think of ramping up production at $65 per barrel if they know full well that prices will plummet back down? That makes no sense to me at all. How about we wait to ramp up any production until we have seen a cumulative fall of at least 500,000 pbd. in U.S. production?
  • Graham on May 08 2015 said:
    I'd argue that the fall was to steep also so this appears to be business as usual for markets based completely on speculation.
  • Johnny A. Franco Arboine on May 09 2015 said:
    Iran cannot be trusted. They have make and broken too many promises already. Iran must stop all nuclear activity. Iran must produce solar energy, not nuclear energy. Case close. All these countries in the Middle East should create a consortium to build a multinational pipeline to bring natural water from Tajistkan and Russia.
  • Walter Jeffords on May 11 2015 said:
    Perhaps the Iran deal will fall through. That would be a disaster for the world but a good thing for the oil industry.

    Does anyone really believe Iran threatens the USA with a nuclear weapon? The real agenda here is the Israeli agenda and since that little place is essentially the 51st state it is now America's duty to "protect" her and and the world from Iran. Insane. However, still good for the energy business.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News