July 12, 2018 • Reprints
The biggest crude oil draw since 2016 was not enough to stop oil from a major drop in price. A slew of oil supply side stories includes the resumption of Libyan crude exports, an increase in Saudi Arabia crude output, possible waivers on U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil and reports that oil is on the agenda when President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet next month. You also had the dollar soar and commodities tank on the fact that the Trump Administration announced new tariffs on China.
Yet, the world looks more bullish today on reports of new China and U.S. trade talks and a new commitment by NATO to raise their spending commitment to fund their fair share of NATO spending. And a report by the International Energy Agency reports that spare oil production capacity could be “stretched to the limit” by OPEC’s supply boost. In other words, down to fumes.
Let us start with the highlights from the Energy Information Administration. From a pure supply and demand aspect, it was very supportive. The EIA reported a 12.633 million barrel drop in crude supply, the biggest decrease since August of 2016. U.S. crude exports dipped but stayed near record highs. U.S. gasoline exports hit a record as our supply was sent to Europe and Africa. Supplies of gasoline fell by 694,000 barrels as refiners upped gasoline production. Refiners overall operated at 96.7% of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 10.7 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 5.4 million barrels per day. Distillate saw a big jump in supply rising by 4.125 million barrels. U.S. crude imports fell hard by 1.624 million barrels a day.
Bottom line, the EIA report is showing a very strong U.S. and global oil market signaling that growth is still running above par, except for weaker distillate demand. Yet, that did not matter for the moment as the market dealt with a slew of bearish interpreted developments. Market Watch laid out seven reasons for the drop.
1. Libya exports set to resume
Libya’s state-run National Oil Corp. lifted force majeure on eastern oil ports on Wednesday after the ports were handed back from an armed faction, paving the way for a resumption of full production. Bjornar Tonhaugen, vice president for oil markets at consultancy Rystad Energy AS, estimated that around 700,000 barrels of oil a day would eventually be returned to the global market from Libya.
2. Possible waivers for U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil
Recent News reports, citing an interview with Sky News Arabia, said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested he will issue waivers for U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil.
3. U.S.-China trade dispute
The White House said it would assess 10% tariffs on a further $200 billion in Chinese goods, deepening the dispute with Beijing, fueling further concerns that worsening tensions between the U.S. and China will hurt the global economy, and demand for oil.
4. U.S. dollar strength
The U.S. dollar strengthened Wednesday as Trump’s protectionist trade stance lured investors to the perceived safety of the greenback. The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, was up 0.6% at 94.71, trading at a more than one-week high. As oil is pegged to the dollar, a stronger greenback usually doesn’t bode well for oil buyers using other currencies.
5. Saudi Arabia was raising output before the OPEC meeting
Saudi Arabia’s crude-oil production rose to 10.42 million barrels a day in June, up 405,400 barrels a day from May, according to a monthly report from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries released July 12.
6. EIA sees U.S. crude output nearing 12 million barrels a day next year
U.S. crude-oil production is set to average 11.8 million barrels a day in 2019, the EIA said in its monthly short-term report published Tuesday. That would top the previous record of 9.6 million barrels a day set in 1970.
7. Speculation that the U.S. will pressure Russia to lift production
There are reports that President Trump will “hammer Russia” on raising oil production. The United States and Russia are scheduled to hold a summit on July 16 in Helsinki.
Andrew Weissman of ECB Analytics sees Libyan production as basically making the difference between market being severely short for the balance of the year or balanced — possibly even slightly oversupplied. He says that while supply could be disrupted again at any time he would expect the market to initially shrug that off on the assumption, given today’s experience, that would likely to be short lived. Also, he worries about the expectation that 60-70% of Syncrude production will be restored in August and weak distillate demand during the last four weeks. All of this having been said, once prices bottom out, could be a strong rebound sometime in September.
A potential driver includes continued declines in Cushing, Okla., stocks. The lowest level in the past several years was 18 million, and even that was before most of the pipelines to the Gulf were built. We may be close to the point where stocks fall below minimum operating needs of refiners. When this occurs, steep price increases are possible. About the same time, growth in Permian production in the Permian Basin is likely to come to an abrupt halt due to all the pipeline takeaway capacity reaching full utilization. This also is a huge potential catalyst, which I don’t think the market is currently considering adequately. Finally, I expect sanction waivers to be relatively small. Over the next few months, price swings could startle the market.
The International Energy Agency is warning about tight supply and no spare capacity. The large number of disruptions reminds us of the pressure on global oil supply, according to the IEA said. This will become an even bigger issue as rising production from the Middle East Gulf countries and Russia — welcome though it is — comes at the expense of the world’s spare capacity cushion, which might be stretched to the limit. The IEA also reported that U.S. sanctions could reduce Iranian oil exports by significantly more than the 1.2 million barrels a day seen in the previous round of sanctions. In June, Tehran crude exports fell back by about 230,000 barrels a day, as European purchases dropped by nearly 50%.
There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. We warned about the massive drop in cap x years ago and now we are feeling the impact, Good news on that front. BlackRock Inc. raised $1.5 billion for its most recent energy and power infrastructure fund, pushing the world’s largest asset manager further into illiquid assets, according to Bloomberg. Now we only have a trillion dollars to go to get to where we need to be.
About the Author
Senior energy analyst at The PRICE Futures Group and a Fox Business Network contributor. He is one of the world’s leading market analysts, providing individual investors, professional traders, and institutions with up-to-the-minute investment and risk management insight into global petroleum, gasoline, and energy markets. His precise and timely forecasts have come to be in great demand by industry and media worldwide and his impressive career goes back almost three decades, gaining attention with his market calls and energetic personality as writer of The Energy Report. You can contact Phil by phone at (888) 264-5665 or by email at email@example.com. Learn even more on our website atwww.pricegroup.com.
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