OPEC extends output cuts but “caught in a pincer”

From Stanley Reed at The Age:

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries extended oil production cuts through March 2018, Khalid A. al-Falih, the Saudi energy minister, said in Vienna overnight. The move follows a decision this month by Saudi Arabia and Russia to do so.

The earlier announcement helped lift prices from a low of $US46. But on Thursday, prices shed more than 4 per cent with more than a billion barrels traded….

“Opec is being caught in a pincer movement of technology and policy that will, over time, erode oil use,” said Bill Farren-Price, chief executive of Petroleum Policy Intelligence, an advisory firm for hedge funds and other investors. “This meeting is more about forestalling an oil price collapse than driving prices higher.”

Read more at: OPEC agrees to extend output cuts through March 2018

Goldman Cuts 2017 Oil Price Forecast Due To Slower Market Rebalancing | Zero Hedge

Goldman Sachs has cut its long-term crude oil forecasts:

The inflection phase of the oil market continues to deliver its share of surprises, with low prices driving disruptions in Nigeria, higher output in Iran and better demand. With each of these shifts significant in magnitude, the oil market has gone from nearing storage saturation to being in deficit much earlier than we expected and we are pulling forward our price forecast, with 2Q/2H16 WTI now $45/bbl and $50/bbl. However, we expect that the return of some of these outages as well as higher Iran and Iraq production will more than offset lingering issues in Nigeria and our higher demand forecast. As a result, we now forecast a more gradual decline in inventories in 2H than previously and a return into surplus in 1Q17, with low-cost production continuing to grow in the New Oil Order. This leads us to lower our 2017 forecast with prices in 1Q17 at $45/bbl and only reaching $60/bbl by 4Q2017.

But these forecasts are premised on a Chinese recovery:

Stronger vehicle sales, activity and a bigger harvest are leading us to raise our Indian and Russia demand forecasts for the year. And while we are reducing our US and EU forecasts on the combination of weaker activity and higher prices than previously assumed, we are raising our China demand forecasts to reflect the expected support from the recent transient stimulus. Net, our 2016 oil demand growth forecast is now 1.4 mb/d, up from 1.2 mb/d previously. Our bias for strong demand growth since October 2014 leaves us seeing risks to this forecast as skewed to the upside although lesser fuel and crude burn for power generation in Brazil, Japan and likely Saudi are large headwinds this year.

While production growth continues to surprise:

…..This expectation for a return into surplus in 1Q17 is not dependent on a sharp price recovery beyond the $45-$55/bbl trading range that we now expect in 2016. First, it reflects our view that low-cost producers will continue to drive production growth in the New Oil Order – with growth driven by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, the UAE and Russia. Second, non-OPEC producers had mostly budgeted such price levels and there remains a pipeline of already sanctioned non-OPEC projects. In fact, we see risks to our production forecasts as skewed to the upside as we remain conservative on Saudi’s ineluctable ramp up and Iran’s recovery.

We expect continued growth in low-cost producer output
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Iraq, Iran (crude) and Russia (oil) production (kb/d)

Tyler Durden has a more bearish view:

While there is much more in the full note, the bottom line is simple: near-term disruptions have led to a premature bounce in the price of oil, however as millions more in oil barrels come online (and as Chinese demand fades contrary to what Goldman believes), the next leg in oil will not be higher, but flat or lower, in what increasingly is shaping up to be a rerun of the summer of 2015.

Source: Goldman Cuts 2017 Oil Price Forecast Due To Slower Market Rebalancing | Zero Hedge

Where oil goes, stocks will follow

Patrick Chovanec

From Patrick Chovanec, Chief Strategist at Silvercrest Asset Management:

…..so far this year stock market sentiment has taken many of its cues from the price of oil. On any given day, if you knew which way oil prices moved, you probably could tell which way the stock market moved. While we believe this linkage fails to recognize the critical distinctions we have so often highlighted, it can’t be ignored in anticipating future market movements, at least in the near-term. The recent firming of oil prices reflects some important developments. After more than a year, we are finally seeing the initial signs of capitulation on the supply side: U.S. oil output has topped out and the most vulnerable OPEC members are agitating for cutbacks. Nevertheless, accumulated crude oil inventories remain at record high levels, which makes us wary concluding that the oil market has reached a hard bottom. While we think the oil price, and the producer industry, will gradually recover, we also think “consensus” expectations of a dramatic +20% gain in S&P 500 operating earnings this year, driven by a large and sudden rebound in the energy and materials sectors, continue to be overly optimistic. With this in mind, we are likely to see more sentiment-driven volatility in U.S. stock prices ahead, even as the U.S. economy continues on its path of slow growth.

Keep a weather eye on the flattening yield curve and shrinking bank interest margins. If these continue to shrink, “slow growth” could easily become “no growth”.

Goldman Sachs Doubles Down On Lower-For-Longer Scenario | OilPrice.com

ZeroHedge quotes Goldman Sachs’ Jeffrey Currie:

….Not only will the macro forces keep prices under pressure, but historically markets trade near cash costs [near $50/bbl] until new incremental higher-cost capacity is needed (even the IEA has revised 2015 non-OPEC output growth from existing capacity up by 265 kb/d since March). In addition, low-cost OPEC producers are likely to expand capacity now that they have pushed output to near max utilization. At the same time Iran has the potential to add 200 to 400 kb/d of production in 2016 and with significant investment far greater low-cost volumes in 2017….

Read more at Goldman Sachs Doubles Down On Lower-For-Longer Scenario | OilPrice.com.

Grantham: Lower oil price is new normal | Macrobusiness

By Houses & Holes
Reproduced with kind permission from Macrobusiness.com.au

From Jeremy Grantham:


The simplest argument for the oil price decline is for once correct. A wave of new U.S. fracking oil could be seen to be overtaking the modestly growing global oil demand.

It became clear that OPEC, mainly Saudi Arabia, must cut back production if the price were to stay around $100 a barrel, which many, including me, believe is necessary to justify continued heavy spending to find traditional oil.

The Saudis declined to pull back their production and the oil market entered into glut mode, in which storage is full and production continues above demand.

Under glut conditions, oil (and natural gas) is uniquely sensitive to declines toward marginal cost (ignoring sunk costs), which can approach a few dollars a barrel – the cost of just pumping the oil.

Oil demand is notoriously insensitive to price in the short term but cumulatively and substantially sensitive as a few years pass.

The Saudis are obviously expecting that these low prices will turn off U.S. fracking, and I’m sure they are right. Almost no new drilling programs will be initiated at current prices except by the financially desperate and the irrationally impatient, and in three years over 80% of all production from current wells will be gone!

Thus, in a few months (six to nine?) I believe oil supply is likely to drop to a new equilibrium, probably in the $30 to $50 per barrel range.

For the following few years, U.S. fracking costs will determine the global oil balance. At each level, as prices rise more, fracking production will gear up. U.S. fracking is unique in oil industry history in the speed with which it can turn on and off.

In five to eight years, depending on global GDP growth and how quickly prices recover, U.S. fracking production will start to peak out and the full cost of an incremental barrel of traditional oil will become, once again, the main input into price. This is believed to be about $80 today and rising. In five to eight years it is likely to be $100 to $150 in my opinion.

U.S. fracking reserves that are available up to $120 a barrel are probably only equal to about one year of current global demand. This is absolutely not another Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has probably made the wrong decision for two reasons:

First, unintended consequences: a price decline of this magnitude has generated a real increase in global risk. For example, an oil producing country under extreme financial pressure may make some rash move. Oil company bankruptcy might also destabilize the financial world. Perversely, the Saudis particularly value stability.

Second, the Saudis could probably have absorbed all U.S. fracking increases in output (from today’s four million barrels a day to seven or eight) and never have been worse off than producing half of their current production for twice the current price … not a bad deal.

Only if U.S. fracking reserves are cheaper to produce and much larger than generally thought would the Saudis be right. It is a possibility, but I believe it is not probable.

The arguments that this is a demand-driven bust do not seem to tally with the data, although longer term the lack of cheap oil will be a real threat if we have not pushed ahead with renewables.

Most likely though, beyond 10 years electric cars and alternative energy will begin to eat into potential oil demand, threatening longer-term oil prices.

Exactly right, though in my view the equilibrium price will be more like $50 than $30 for the next half decade.

Don’t miss the full report.

Gold & crude fall

Gold broke support at $1240/ounce to signal a primary down-trend. Declining 13-week Twiggs Momentum, below zero, strengthens the signal. Follow-through below $1200 would confirm. The sell-off is being driven by a rising Dollar.

Spot Gold

Crude oil is also falling, with Brent Crude testing its 18-month low. Nymex breach of $92/barrel would also signal a primary down-trend.

Nymex and Brent Crude

From Nick Cunningham at Oilprice.com:

The glut of supplies and weak demand is causing problems for OPEC, according to the cartel’s monthly report. OPEC lowered its demand projection for 2015 by 200,000 and in August, Saudi Arabia cut production by 400,000 bpd in an effort to stem oversupply.

It is probably no coincidence, but lower oil prices will hurt the Russian economy. As Nick points out:

Russia needs between $110 and $117 per barrel to finance its spending, which means the Kremlin can’t be happy as it watches Brent prices continue to drop. Combined with an already weak economy, Russia could see its $19 billion surplus become a deficit by the end of the year.

Falling oil prices will benefit the global economy in the medium-term. Subduing Russia’s territorial ambitions will be an added bonus.

EconoMonitor : EconoMonitor » Europe Begins Its Endgame. Watch and Learn, for Europe’s Problems Are the World’s.

The current structure of Europe cracks under the slowly rising stress of vendor financing: export-based prosperity for some, debt-financed consumption by others. Unless reformed, this can only end badly. The global economy has similar imbalances. In 2010 the trade surpluses of China, Russia, and East Asia (China being half the total) were almost equal to the US trade deficit of $560 billion. OPEC, Germany, and Japan accumulated another $518 billion surplus. These numbers continue year by year, accumulating stress that will eventually break the current global financial order.

We should watch and learn from Europe’s experience in the months to come. We, and the rest of the world, may follow them sooner than we expect.

via EconoMonitor : EconoMonitor » Europe Begins Its Endgame. Watch and Learn, for Europe’s Problems Are the World’s..