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Opinion & Commentary

Eight pieces of our oil price predicament

Friday, October 24, 2014

A person might think that oil prices would be fairly stable. Prices would set themselves at a level that would be high enough for the majority of producers, so that in total producers would provide enough–but not too much–oil for the world economy. The prices would be fairly affordable for consumers. And economies around the world would grow robustly with these oil supplies, plus other energy supplies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work that way recently. Let me explain at least a few of the issues involved. 1. Oil prices are set by our networked economy. As I have explained previously, we have a ne... Read more

Oil price, BP/Chevron, Ophir and finally...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Oil price Last week I named it 'short covering Friday as for the last few weeks this day has seen bears closing short positions ahead of the weekend, but today is slightly different. Last Friday we had just bounced off the low of the 50% retracement of the 5 year high and now the market appears to have settled down at least a touch. Despite the slightly odd EIA stats, which i believe are down to unexpected refinery activity, oil rallied again last night. The reason was that it seems that Saudi Arabia output in September fell by 328/- b/d to only 9.36m b/d, a token fall you might agree but a fall nevertheless. This is... Read more

Give us a break...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I see that Oil & gas UK has been talking again about the need for George Osborne to ‘put his money where his mouth is’ (I paraphrase!) and change the fiscal terms operative in the UKCS. This of course would be very welcome. BUT, what it doesn’t do is get the COSTS of doing business offshore in the UKCS (and Norway, for that matter) down; and exponentiating costs are a key reason that development projects are being put on hold or at best delayed. Now Oil & Gas UK has around 250 full members and getting all of these singing from the same hymn sheet is something they should be congratulated on. Again. An... Read more

Oil price, Tullow, Chariot, FOGL, Sundry-Weatherford-Core Labs-BP-Total-Range-Northern Pet-Jupiter-Tangiers, and finally...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Oil price Ok, so we whispered it a little too loudly and the oil price came off again last night after a poor set of inventory stats. These came in from the EIA as a 7.1m build which was a little more than double the consensus and much higher than the API number which is what spooked the market. US domestic production was marginally up whilst demand faltered, US refineries are still not back from seasonal maintenance but will be soon. With only a week to go in October, November will change things so inventory data will be important, as will the weather. This may seem rather spurious but make a difference, particularly thi... Read more

Oil price, Nabors, Shell, Amerisur, Nostra Terra, Sundry and finally...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oil price Whisper it very quietly... but we might just have seen the bottom for the oil price, at least for the time being. Now this is no cause for breaking out the champagne nor does it signify a meaningful rally but there are a couple of small signs that the major part of the fall has now happened. I mentioned last Thursday that we were at a very important technical level for the oil price, with Brent flirting with $82.30 which is the 50% retracement from the five year high, that day with world markets in a bad state, Brent got very close but bounced at $82.60, voilá. Today we are at $86.62 after the recent mode... Read more

Why it's different this time

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Is this downturn in oil prices going to be different for investors? I think it might. In fact, I think North American energy companies have a good chance of withstanding this downfall in prices than any other downturn of the last 40 years. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the recent carnage in oil stocks—especially the juniors and intermediates, which are off 30-50% in 6 weeks. This is severe, but is not without precedent. (In fact, once OPEC starts squabbling, history says oil prices drop 50% or more.) But there is an argument that North American industry cash flows won’t be affected as much as the M... Read more

Oil price, Total, Ophir, Madagascar, Lamprell, Northern, Sundry-BP-Egdon-Xcite-Faroe, And finally...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oil price All eyes were on the Chinese data overnight and there was relief that they weren't bad, in the end slightly beating the whisper at 7.3%. Forecasts had centred around 7.2% after last figs of 7.5% but overall not too bad. The oil stats were actually better than economists had predicted with oil demand up 6.2% to 10.3m b/d which I am sure will include a degree of stock build. Retail gasoline prices in the USA are beginning to show the advantage of the lower crude realisations with gasoline falling sharply again this week. At $3.12 a gallon the price is down 9 cents on the week and is 24 cents a gallon less tha... Read more

A fly on the wall at OPEC's November 27th meeting

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The next meeting of OPEC ministers is scheduled to take place November 27, 2014 in Vienna. It is not going to be business as usual. The stated purpose of the meeting is to set production policies for 2015. But we all know what the members will be discussing over tea or something stronger. “How do we get this problem under control?” A cartel is a group of companies or, in this case, countries who engage in collusion to limit or control the market price of a product. In many countries this behavior is illegal and those guilty of it are often stripped of their ‘ill-gotten gains’ in the form of fine... Read more

Oil price, President, Genel/SL/Serica, Egdon/Europa, Sundry-Range-Afren-Halliburton, And finally...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Oil price There is a slightly better feel about the oil price this morning, US consumer sentiment appears better and it appears that China, as suggested here a number of times, has been buying for its strategic reserves. Elsewhere the Khafji oilfield in the Saudi/Kuwait territory has seen a production halt due to 'environmental' reasons which takes about 300/- b/d off the market, thank goodness for very small blessings. Iran has said that they will 'take measures to stop oil prices falling' which is all very well and good but of little help in realité. The prices above are week end ones, the small r... Read more

Oil decline: Price makes the story

Monday, October 20, 2014

So oft in theologic wars, The disputants, I ween, Rail on in utter ignorance Of what each other mean, And prate about an Elephant Not one of them has seen! --The Blind Men and The Elephant by John Godfrey Saxe When the world's business editors sent their reporters canvassing to find out what is behind the recent plunge in the world oil price, they were doing what they do almost every day for every type of market: stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities and real estate. In financial journalism more often it's the price that makes the story rather than the story that makes the price. If a story is about something v... Read more

Oil price, Schlumberger, Petrofac, Lamprell, Pantheon, Aminex and finally...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Oil price I think at the moment we shall call this day, short closing Friday as the market has got used to ‘taking out a Rupert’ during the week and covering the position on Friday to ensure they aren’t left exposed over the weekend. There is nothing much to add this morning on the oil price front, the EIA stats showed a build of 8.9m barrels of crude against the whisper of 2.6 which was in line with the API stats. Gasoline drew 4m barrels which was a bit more than yesterdays number and stocks there are at a two year low. The EIA also reported that Japan continues to import record volumes of LNG, the ... Read more

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