Oil / Black Gold / Texas T

Global oil markets plunged almost a third on 09 March 2020, the biggest drop since the 1991 Gulf War as Saudi Arabia slashed prices in a battle for market share after Russia rejected OPEC calls for deep output cuts. Oil prices suffered a dramatic collapse in early trading on Monday after talks between OPEC members and Russia fell apart, leading to the opening salvo in a price war that could see oil prices decline further. Futures prices of Brent crude fell over 25 percent to around $33 per barrel in morning trading, while North America’s WTI crude dropped to around $29 per barrel in the worst day of trading for both futures contracts since 1991. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-member allies, led by Russia, known as the OPEC+ alliance, had committed to an output cut agreement to stabilize prices. The group fell apart on 06 March 2020 following discussions over further output cuts to prop up prices following coronavirus-fueled demand fall.

The Kingdom has by far the largest spare capacity of any oil producing nations, with around 2.32 million barrels per day of spare capacity, according to figures from the IEA. The UAE has the next highest spare capacity in OPEC, with 0.33 million barrels per day. This huge idle capacity means that Saudi Arabia would be able to take market share from competing producers, such as Russia or US shale oil producers. It remains to be seen as to how much muscle the Kingdom will throw into the ring. Russia's breakeven is apparently $40 a barrel, and it has accumulated reserves over the past few years. Whether it has deeper pockets than Saudi Arabia was a matter of debate.

Dutch Disease is a term originally referring to the problems the Netherlands encountered when it discovered huge gas reserves off its northern coast in 1959. The Netherlands experienced then a vast increase in its wealth after discovering large natural gas deposits in the North Sea. Unexpectedly, this sudden ostensibly positive development had serious negative repercussions on important other segment of the economy, as the Dutch currency became stronger, hence making Dutch non-oil exports less competitive.

Dutch Disease refers to the fears of de-industrialization that gripped the Netherlands as a result of the appreciation of the Dutch currency that followed the discovery of natural gas deposits. The appreciation of the Dutch currency that followed the gas export boom reduced the profitability of manufacturing and service exports. Total exports decreased markedly to GDP during the 1960s. Expansion of petroleum exports in the 1960s not only crowded out other exports, actually reduced other exports disproportionately and fueled the fears of dire consequences for Dutch manufacturing.

The US alone, which re-emerged as the world’s largest oil producer in 2018, has seen its output explode thanks to innovations in fracking technology over the past decade. America is expected to add more than a million barrels per day in new production in 2020, having added more than a million in 2019.

By November 2019 Brent crude was trading at abot $62 a barrel on the world markets. Russia is one of the most expensive places in the world to produce oil, analysis produced in November 2019 for Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco has found. The cost of producing a single barrel of Brent crude oil came in at around $42 for Russian onshore projects, and $44 for offshore projects, IHS Markit estimated. That was more than twice the $17 per barrel production costs in Saudi Arabia - the cheapest in the world. The analysis, conducted by IHS Markit and published alongside Saudi Aramco's initial public offering (IPO) prospectus, found offshore projects in Venezuela had the highest break-even price in the world at $63 a barrel, followed by China at $55-60. Russian oil production was more expensive than in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Nigeria, the United Arab Emirates, the U.K., the Gulf of Mexico and Norway. Among the other most-expensive places to produce oil were Azerbaijan, Angola, Thailand and India. Differences in production costs depend not only on the ease of extraction and location of the project, but on the taxes levied by governments in different jurisdictions. Russian statistics agency Rosstat estimates that the cost of extraction without taxes would be around $32 a barrel in Russia.

Oil prices surged more than 15 percent to their highest level in nearly four months after an attack 14 September 2019 on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities that knocked out more than five percent of global oil supply. The attacks knocked down 5.7 million barrels per day of crude production - more than half of Saudi Arabia, the top exporter's output. On 16 September 2019, Brent Crude futures jumped 12 percent, or $8, to $68 a barrel about one hour into trading. As of 7:00 a.m. EDT, it found its level at $66.54, up 10.49 percent, or $6.32. “In the short-term, oil prices are likely to rise - as we have already seen in trading on Asian and European markets. However, the jump seems contained within the $10 mark, and I would not be surprised to see prices come down as output comes back online,” said Ellen R. Wald, Senior Fellow at the Washington-based Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center. “Some analysts initially predicted significant long-term impacts on oil prices. However, I do not see this as a likely consequence; $100 per barrel oil as a direct result of these attacks is not a likely scenario,” she added to Al Arabiya English.

Ministers from the 15 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) reached an agreement 30 November 2016 to cut their oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day. The November 30 agreement, an attempt to boost oil prices by reducing a global supply glut, would lower the total output of the cartel to 32.5 million barrels a day beginning in January 2017. Oil prices surged dramatically on news of the deal, with crude futures rising by 8 to 9 percent within 15 minutes of the announcement to over $50 per barrel.

Oil explorers in the U.S. state of Texas said 15 November 2016 they had discovered the largest deposit of shale oil in a region known as the Permian Basin. The so-called Wolfcamp formation, explorers believe, could hold up to 20 billion barrels of oil, worth up to $900 billion. The find could be three times bigger than the state of North Dakota’s Bakken rock formation, the largest find of unconventional oil ever discovered. “The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more,” said Walter Guidroz, coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey’s energy resources program, in a statement. The find also gives credence to those who think the Permian Basin could hold up to 75 billion barrels of shale oil. That would be the second largest in the world, behind Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar field.

U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, January 2018 forecast Brent crude oil to average $60 per barrel (b) in 2018 and $61/b in 2019, slightly higher than the $54/b average in 2017. In both 2018 and 2019, EIA expects total global crude oil production to be slightly greater than global consumption, with U.S. crude oil production increasing more than any other country.

Crude oil production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) averaged 32.5 million b/d in 2017, a decrease of 0.2 million b/d from 2016. The decline was mainly a result of the November 2016 OPEC production agreement that aimed to limit OPEC crude oil output to 32.5 million b/d. OPEC and non-OPEC participants agreed on November 30, 2017, to extend the production cuts through the end of 2018 in an effort to reduce global oil inventories.

The global price of oil will rise to $80 by 2020, International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Fatih Birol said following the release of the Medium-Term Oil Market Report at IHS CERA Week conference in Texas on 22 February 2016. "We expect 2016… [that] there will be a weak price environment. As of 2017 we see a rebound and expect 2020 to reach $80," Birol said.

Crude prices rose to their highest in three months in early March, stoked by tightening supply, proposed new producer talks on co-ordinated output action and US dollar weakness. Oil futures edged up on 30 March 2016 to near $40 per barrel as a weaker dollar spurred interest in riskier assets and the International Energy Agency said expectations for a deluge of oil from Iran were misplaced. Brent futures climbed 71 cents to $39.85 a barrel after settling down $1.13 in the previous session. US crude rose 77 cents to $39.05 a barrel after ending down $1.11 the prevoius day.

The US made its first export of crude oil in four decades in January 2016. The exports were banned in the mid-1970s. That ban was lifted. The Arab Oil Embargo began in 1973. Arab nations who produce oil dramatically limited their shipments to the US. This was done to punish the US over its military support for Israel. The Arab cartel later expanded the embargo to other countries, and oil prices soared worldwide. By 1974, the price of oil had risen from $3 per barrel to nearly $12 globally. US prices were much higher.

On 16 February 2016 leading OPEC member Saudi Arabia, non-OPEC member Russia, Qatar and Venezuela agreed to freeze output at January levels if others joined in. "The problem in the oil market is the glut. There is a need to do something to bring down these extra barrels. The freeze for those people that have been producing to the maximum does not help the market," one Iranian oil source familiar with discussions. The pact to freeze production marks a shift in Saudi oil policy. For months, as oil prices plunged, Riyadh had refused to curb its production in an attempt to force other oil producers, especially U.S. shale oil producers, out of the market.

The United States and the European Union lifted sanctions on 16 January 2016 against Iran after a report by the international nuclear watchdog saying Iran nation had complied with all requirements allowing them to enter the global economy and begin selling their massive oil production in international markets. International analysts told British news outlet The Week that due to the lifting of sanctions on Iran – who produces around 1.1 million barrels of crude per day and is expected to raise their production by about 500,000 a day – prices of oil will fall to “25 dollars, 20 or even as low as 10 dollars a barrel in the coming months.”

The World Bank forecast oil prices to average USD 37 p/b in 2016 and to increase to USD 48 p/b in 2017. Other estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) put average oil prices at USD 40 a barrel in 2016. There was also a possibility that some higher-cost oil producers, such as shale producers, will exit the market and oil prices will start recovering.

Morgan Stanley became the latest bank to predict prices would fall to US$20, while analysts from the Royal Bank of Scotland predicted that price would fall as low as US$16. However, the Standard Chartered Bank went further by saying the market could very well reach US$10. "We think prices could fall as low as $10 [a barrel] before most of the money managers in the market conceded that matters had gone too far," the bank stated. World Bank experts agree with these projections. They assured that oil prices will in fact drop to US$10 per barrel in 2016, according to Shanta Devarajan, WB chief economist for the Middle East and North Africa region.

Markets were routed in December as persistent oversupply, bloated inventories and a slew of negative economic news pressured prices so that by mid-January crude oil touched twelve-year lows. At the time of writing, both ICE Brent and NYMEX WTI had sunk below $30/bbl. Exceptionally mild temperatures in the early part of the winter in Japan, Europe and the US, alongside weak economic sentiment in China, Brazil, Russia and other commodity-dependent economies, saw global oil demand growth flip from a near five-year high in 3Q15 (2.1 mb/d) to a one-year low in 4Q15 (1.0 mb/d). The outlook for 2016 has demand growth moderating to 1.2 mb/d.

Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries had been the main force behind the plunging oil prices as they continue to oversupply the market with crude oil in a bid to push the higher-cost shale oil productions, mainly in the US, out of the market. Venezuelan oil prices fell to a historic low of $29 per barrel, President Nicolas Maduro to have said 16 December 2015. Revenues have fallen by a staggering 68 percent in 2015 alone, Maduro added. Venezuelan extra-heavy crude and refined products averaged $31.24 per barrel last week, Reuters reports. In 2015, Venezuelan prices have averaged $45.55, compared with $88.42 in 2014 and $98.08 in 2013.

Global oil prices had fallen to their lowest point since February 2009 as prices loom below $36, according to global benchmark Brent which calculates prices at $36.68 a barrel. United States benchmark West Texas Intermediate calculates prices at below $35 per barrel. Brent was trading at less than 40 U.S. cents above the lows experienced during the 2008 financial crisis of $36.20 a barrel. If Brent falls below that level, it will be its lowest since mid-2004. WTI’s financial crisis low was $32.40 in December 2008.

Arab Gulf States said they would continue the high production rate even if the price falls to $20 a barrel. The second factor in the falling prices is that Iran is preparing to flood the market with as much as 700,000 barrels per day as it expects economic sanctions to be lifted as early as January 2016.

China became world’s biggest importer of crude oil in April 2015, reaching a record number of almost 7.4 million barrels per day, compared to America’s estimated 7.2 million bpd. The growth came despite a slowing economy and was spurred by relatively low oil price and recent interest rate cuts in China as the government tries to stimulate growth. While the US may retake top spot in the months to come, China was expected to be the biggest importer of crude oil in the long run, while becoming the world’s leading exporter of almost all major commodities, including coal and most metals.

Global oil prices began to fall sharply during summer 2014 amid an oversupply in the market. Prices then dropped further after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, whose 12 member states account for some 40 percent of world oil output, decided not to cut production in late November.

The United States expected global oil prices to remain low in the coming years, Vice President Joe Biden said at the Caribbean Energy Security Summit on 26 January 2015. “Let’s start with oil prices, now under $50 a barrel…it is likely going to remain relatively low for, at the near term, the next several years,” Biden said.

Brent crude oil fell below $50 per barrel on the London Stock Exchange on 07 January 2015 - the lowest plunge since the dark days of the 2008 financial crisis. So far in 2015 Brent had already lost 10% of its value, after wiping out 50% in 2014. Brent crude is the European trading benchmark, and followed the spiral trajectory of its US-counterpart WTI, which sank below $50 per barrel for February contracts on 05 January.

Brent crude oil hit 2015 highs above $63 per barrel on 16 April 2015 after a rally of more than 5 percent the previous session. Front-month Brent crude futures rose above $63 a barrel for the first time this year on Wednesday. They dipped back to $62.96 by 0413 GMT. US crude was at $56.23 after hitting a 2015 high of $56.69 on 15 April 2015. The prices jumped after US inventories built up more slowly than expected. Also, talks between major oil producers this week triggered speculation of production cuts.

Since 2007, US crude oil production in the United States had nearly doubled, thanks mainly to new fracking technologies used in the extraction of shale oil. The rapid fall in the price of oil in 2014 was a result of simple supply and demand. In the United States, new shale-drilling projects were modeled and sanctioned on an oil price of between $90 and $110 per barrel. Iran based its government budget on oil prices of $100 a barrel.

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