Posts tagged “Oil Prices”
In the previous article, I graded the 2013 predictions that I made a year ago. I scored well on the direction of oil and gas prices, the shrinking Brent-West Texas Intermediate (WTI) differential, and continued growth in US oil production (although it grew even faster than I expected). My only complete miss was that I expected approval for the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. (The southern leg, incidentally, is scheduled to begin shipping oil this week from the major crude oil storage hub at Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast near Houston).
Today I offer up my predictions, and the reasoning behind them, for what I think will transpire in 2014. One thing I have learned in making predictions is that they must be specific, and not subject to interpretation at the end of the year.
“The US oil industry will continue to thrive” is much too vague. “The price of crude will rise” is also too vague, because perhaps crude rises for part of the year, or perhaps some crudes rise and some don’t. On the other hand, “The average price of Brent crude will be higher in 2014 than in 2013” is specific and measurable. CONTINUE»
Favorable Economics, the Permian, and Choices
In July, I wrote about the ramped up activity in the Permian Basin. The point of that story was to merely observe and document that period of time in the Basin. In the data offered over the course of several articles, the conclusion was clear: the U.S. is in the early period of another boom from U.S. production of oil, and Texas is largely the zone for the majority of the production capacity. While the Bakken Shale and the Eagle Ford receive numerous well-deserved headlines, exploration and production (E&P) firms were busy making new history in the Permian Basin.
The largest producer in the Permian Basin is Occidental Petroleum, also known as Oxy. This also makes the firm the largest producer in Texas. Pioneer Natural Resources, Apache and Kinder Morgan Production follow behind Oxy in Permian Basin production for 2012. According to the Energy Information Agency, in 2012 the U.S. imported approximately 10.6 million barrels of crude oil per day. The ratings agency Moody’s recently made an announcement about the impact of the “Permian revival” on exploration and production (E&P) firms. In their communication, they mention producers speculate that the full development of the Wolfcamp Shale could result in 2 million barrels a day — more than the 1970s peak for the entire basin. That is nearly 20% of U.S. daily imports. When might that happen? Hard to say.
Impacting Economics, Geopolitics and Markets
The U.S. is expected to spend about 8.5% of its GDP on energy in 2013. In 2008, when oil prices peaked, it was closing in on 10%. U.S. oil production provides a buffer to supply shocks — which happens frequently in the Middle East and North Africa, two key crude supply regions. In July 2013, disruptions to crude oil and liquids production were nearly 2.7 million barrels per day. Of the supply disruptions, 800,000 barrels were from non-OPEC nations and the other 1.9 million from OPEC, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). August is estimated at a 2.8 million shortfall.
The OPEC-related outages, which include Iran, Iraq, Libya and Nigeria, are considered to be the highest since early 2009. This has contributed to rising prices, from the year’s low of $97 in April to a high nearing $117 August 27th, after Syrian chemical weapons attacks followed on the heels of Egypt’s political turmoil. The causes of the outages in Libya were from labor disputes, while Iraq’s shortfalls originated from pipeline disruptions from violence; Iran’s woes stem partly from sanctions, and Nigerian oil challenges related generally to oil theft and infrastructure sabotage and degradation.
This is the 3rd installment in a series that examines data from the recently released 2013 BP Statistical Review of World Energy. The previous posts - Renewable Energy Status Update 2013 and Hydropower and Geothermal Status Update 2013 – focused mainly on renewables. This post delves into the world’s oil production and consumption patterns.
Global Oil Consumption
Global oil consumption trends received a lot of misleading press coverage shortly after the Statistical Review was released. Many of the news articles reported that global oil consumption is slowing. I addressed this in some detail in Did Global Oil Consumption Slow in 2012?, but the gist is that global oil consumption increased in 2012 to a record 89.8 million barrels per day (bpd). Global oil production also achieved a new record of 86.2 million bpd. (The reason the consumption and production number aren’t in sync is that ethanol and biodiesel are included in the consumption number, but the production number represents only “crude oil, shale oil, oil sands and natural gas liquids.”)
Which Oil Price to Watch?
Some economists and consumers are bracing for a sharp uptick in gasoline prices, because the price of crude oil has shot up by $10 per barrel in the last month. Except that it hasn’t, at least not if we’re talking about the global price of crude oil that’s factored into the price of the petroleum products sold in much of the US, especially along the coasts.
The global oil market, reflected in the price of UK Brent crude, is only up about $5 per barrel this month, mainly due to the situation in Egypt. A big part of the jump in domestic oil prices reflects the closing of a historically anomalous gap as US oil moves back into line with the rest of the world.
Such an increase in oil prices does not automatically herald a rise in gasoline prices, especially if it mainly erases a discount that benefited refiners in one region of the country. Moreover, gasoline and crude oil as commodities move in separate markets, linked but not in lock-step. Over the medium-to-longer term they must clearly be connected, but in the short term each responds to distinct forces of supply, demand, inventories and expectations.
Over the past three weeks, there have been numerous headlines insinuating that a freefall in oil prices is underway. Last week I read that the various causes were a slowdown in China’s economy, OPEC’s decision not to cut production, and America’s growing oil production. Based on the headlines, one might suspect that we were right in the middle of a major bear market for oil.
Just how far had the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fallen? All the way to $92 a barrel. Keep in mind that WTI opened 2013 at $93.14 a barrel. Since then it has traded between $98/bbl and $87/bbl. (In my Five Energy Predictions for 2013, I predicted that the price of WTI would average less this year than last year, and that the Brent-WTI differential would narrow. To date both predictions have proven to be accurate). CONTINUE»
While U.S. benchmark (WTI) crude-oil futures were up 4.6% since the start of 2013, the futures prices of the global benchmark Brent was down. Analysts suggest that the investment demand for exposure to oil prices was supporting these numbers, not physical demand growth. So what information content is behind oil prices, and how do we parse reality from the hype?
The U.S. is experiencing a boom in the production of oil. Only since the beginning of 2011, oil production in the U.S. has gone up by 30%, from 5.5 million barrels per day (mbd) to 7.2 mbd. Just this week, the U.S. Geological Survey announced that the amount of technically recoverable oil in North Dakota was tripled from a previous estimate – so this boom is unlikely to fall away in the short term.
At the same time, U.S. and European demand for petroleum products are declining. The economic troubles in the Euro zone have dampened economic activity (and petroleum demand), while in America, economic growth has returned, but the consumption of petroleum products are down as consumers change habits and lifestyles to drive less. At the same time, the low price of natural gas, particularly in the United States due to the boom in shale gas production, has some analysts predicting that gas will increasingly act as a substitute for oil whenever possible.
Given all this – an increase in production of oil coupled with a decline in demand – an elementary Economics 101 class would say that prices should be in a steep decline. Over the past several months, there have been a slew of articles predicting that oil prices are bound to drop.
Oil Demand Shift
From 2000 the increasing industrialization of the developing world has been the primary catalyst driving the demand for global crude oil. Among non-OECD nations, China and India have led the charge, with Chinese oil demand growing at a torrid 6.7% per annum rate and India’s oil demand growing at 4.0% per annum. Overall non-OECD demand for oil has increased at a comparable rate of 3.6% per annum, with the Asia/Pacific region growing oil demand at roughly 2.7%. Developed nations, however, have seen diminishing oil demand with a negative -.04% per annum growth rate.
As I shall point out, the decline in OECD oil demand is not enough to offset the rising demand for oil from the developing world, so the net result going forward will be an increasing supply/demand imbalance. My analysis points to an increasing deficit — gap in global wellhead oil supply — to meet demand. CONTINUE»
The price for a gallon of gasoline has continued its decline in the United States, but analysts fear that unrest in the Middle East could encourage it to reverse its downward trajectory before long. The average price of a gallon of gas dropped 7 cents over the past two weeks across the country, bringing the cost to consumers to $3.47 per gallon for regular fuel, $3.65 for mid-grade fuel, and $3.78 for premium fuel, while diesel dropped 4 cents to an average of $4.04 per gallon. The latest surveys show that Memphis, Tennessee is enjoying the lowest prices at only $3.04 per gallon, with Long Island, New York, a region still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy, suffering… Continue»