Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Oil Prices

Fitch Knocks Saudi Arabia’s Credit Rating Down Another Notch

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, March 22, 2017:

Fitch Ratings downgraded Saudi Arabia’s credit rating again on Wednesday, bringing it perilously close to “speculative,” from “investment grade.” It dropped the country’s long-term credit rating from A+ to AA-, but with a “stable” outlook, noting that the reduction was due to the country’s “continued deterioration of public and external balance sheets.”

Fitch sees what both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, the other two global credit rating agencies, see: declining oil prices hurting a country that once enjoyed the highest investment grade ratings thanks to high oil prices that not only paid for extravagant welfare programs and subsidies to its citizens but allowed it to accumulate three-quarters of a trillion dollars in foreign reserves — more than ample to ride out any conceivable storm.

The rating agencies have seen that an inconceivable storm arrived in 2014 when

Keep Reading…

Saudi Arabia Losing Influence in Global Oil Markets

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, March 21, 2017:

As it continues to wrestle with declining oil prices worldwide, Saudi Arabia, the de facto head of the OPEC oil cartel, is giving up ground. It said a week ago that it would not allow any “free riders” to enjoy higher oil prices if they rose due to Saudi’s singular attempt to keep them up. A week later it was reported that the kingdom cut its production by 800,000 barrels per day, 60 percent below its agreement. So much for disclaimers against those “free riders” who continue to violate the agreement by exceeding their quotas.

Now comes news that the kingdom’s exports to the United States for the week ended March 10

Keep Reading…

OPEC: A Lesson in Why Cartels Fail

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 15, 2017:

OPEC countries

OPEC countries

Every cartel comes together when individual members think they can obtain a greater economic benefit working together than they can alone. Every cartel breaks apart when members think they can do better alone. If a cartel is sanctioned by a government, it becomes a monopoly.

Since 1960, OPEC has largely stayed together with the collusion of governments and Big Oil interests around the world. But the fracking revolution, operating in the free market, is blowing up the model. Specifically,

Keep Reading…

Drop in Crude Oil Prices Threatens OPEC and Its Production Cut Deal

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, March 14, 2017:  

A report released on Tuesday from OPEC indicated just how phony and ineffective is its highly touted production cut “agreement” the cartel managed to lash together among its members and nonmembers last fall. The agreement was designed to remove some 1.8 million barrels a day (mbd) from worldwide production — enough, it was hoped, to drive crude oil prices higher. Before the agreement OPEC was producing 32.5 mbd. Tuesday’s report indicated that the agreement has reduced daily production to — ready? — 31.96 mbd.

The agreement was destined to fail from the beginning. First,

Keep Reading…

OPEC’s Death Throes?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 10, 2017:

American Petroleum Institute

The tsunami threatening to sink OPEC into oblivion began early Tuesday. At the time, crude oil was selling for $54 a barrel, with expectations that the price would move higher. Those expectations were reflected in the highest ratio of longs to shorts that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission had seen in ten years.

And then came the announcement from the American Petroleum Institute that domestic crude oil inventories rose by a whopping 11.6 million barrels the previous week, against expectations of an increase of just 1.6 million. The selloff began, pushed along on Wednesday following the report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that

Keep Reading…

Crude Oil Price Plummets, Catching OPEC by Surprise

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, March 9, 2017:

Wednesday’s crude oil price drop caught hedge fund managers, big money investors, day traders, and OPEC by surprise, with the sell-off, the biggest one-day drop in 13 months, continuing into Thursday. The five-percent drop on Wednesday pushed crude oil down to $50 a barrel, with Thursday witnessing a further drop to $49. Early Tuesday morning crude was selling at $54 a barrel.

The sell-off started with the announcement on Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute (API) that

Keep Reading…

IEA’s “Oil 2017” Forecast: Crude Oil Shortages Coming by 2020

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 8, 2017:

English: Oil rig platform and stand-by vessel ...

The IEA (International Energy Agency) really ought to stick to its knitting. This intragovernmental agency was set up following the oil shock in the mid-1970s, allegedly to inform various governments as to the status of world crude oil supplies. It was to serve as an information resource on statistics about the global crude oil and other energy markets. In addition, it required its 29 government-members to maintain 90 days’ crude oil supplies on hand to meet another crisis.

It stepped outside its core area of expertise by issuing its Oil 2017 forecast for the next five years, combining a mixture of opinion, crystal-ball gazing, wet-finger in the air experimenting, tea-leaf analysis, naval gazing, and outright guessing that concluded that the world will no longer have a crude oil surplus but a shortage instead by 2020.

And it’s a crisis! Exclaimed Dr. Fatih Birol, the outfit’s director since 2015:

Keep Reading…

Crude Oil Shortage in Three Years?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, March 7, 2017:

Worldwide demand for crude oil will exceed 100 million barrels per day (mbd) in two years, and exceed global supplies in three, according to the Paris-based intergovernmental group International Energy Agency (IEA). In its latest five-year forecast, Oil 2017, the agency says that demand growth will come primarily from developing countries such as India, while demand growth elsewhere, such as the United States, will be tepid at best. The only way the coming shortage can be overcome, said Dr. Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director, is for massive new investments in exploration, discovery, and production to be made immediately:

Keep Reading…

Saudi Arabia’s Troubles Mount: Public Sale of Part of Aramco Delayed

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, February 17, 2017:

Saudi Aramco's headquarters complex in Dhahran...

Saudi Aramco’s headquarters complex in Dhahran, Eastern Province

Under Saudi Arabia’s “National Transformation Program” (NTP), being pushed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the sale of up to five percent of the country’s crown jewel, Saudi Aramco (officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company), would boost private employment and diversify the kingdom away from oil. The initial public offering (IPO), if and when it happens, would be the largest IPO in history and value Aramco at around $2 trillion, making it the largest publicly traded energy company in the world.

The funds raised would flow into a “sovereign wealth fund,” which would then invest in foreign and national companies in the private sector. This, it is hoped, would entice others to join in turning Saudi Arabia into more of a capitalist economy rather than a state-controlled one.

In Salman’s grand scheme,

Keep Reading…

OPEC’s Influence Wanes as Members Cheat on Production Cuts

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, February 13, 2017:

OPEC’s report on how its members are complying with the production-cut agreement hammered out last fall came out on Monday. As expected, it reported cheating among its members.

Per the November 30 agreement, members allegedly agreed to cut production to 32.5 million bpd (barrels per day) of crude. Iraq, Venezuela, Angola, and Algeria cut their production modestly but less than they agreed, while Nigeria, Libya, and Iran produced more. Because Nigeria and Libya are exempt from the production cuts, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and UAE (United Arab Emirates) were forced to over-comply. The total produced by the cartel in January came in just below the target of 32.5 million bpd at 32.1 bpd.

Accompanying the report was a statement that crude oil price “gains were capped by increased drilling activity in the US.”

Those crude oil prices are likely to continue to drop despite OPEC’s best efforts to force them higher. The headwinds the cartel faces are monumental:

First, U.S. rig counts jumped to 591 last week, the highest since October 23, 2015 and an increase of 114 since the OPEC agreement.

 

Second, the Department of Energy announced it will be reducing the U.S. strategic oil reserve later this month through the sale of 10 million barrels.

 

Third, crude oil inventories jumped by nearly 14 million barrels last week, bringing the stockpile of private oil inventories close to an 80-year record level at 508 million barrels.

 

In addition, U.S. oil and gas companies are raising new money through Wall Street equity offerings at rates not seen since at least the year 2000. In January alone, 13 different offerings raised $6.64 billion. And they are using that new money not only to develop existing oil fields, but to acquire additional reserves through mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Last year, M&A activity totaled $24 billion. For 2017, oil and gas companies have already invested half that much and it’s only February.

All of this illustrates the decreasing influence of OPEC in directing the price of crude oil on the world market. Aside from the cheaters, OPEC is also faced with other forces over which it has no control, mostly in the oil industry of the United States.

OPEC Claims That U.S. Shale Producers Won’t Threaten Its Efforts to Raise Crude Oil Prices

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, January 18, 2017:

English: Montage for the Davos article on Wiki...

Montage of Davos photographs

Speaking at the elites’ conference in Davos earlier this week, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Khalid al-Falih, erred when he said that U.S. oil shale producers weren’t a threat to OPEC’s plans to raise crude oil prices by cutting its production. He said that U.S. oil producers “will find they need higher prices” because existing fields (Permian, Bakken, etc.) are being exhausted, and because the costs of lifting new production are going up, thanks to U.S. “inflation on [in] the cost of doing business.”

The minister then engaged in straight-line thinking in a variable world and predicted that

Keep Reading…

EIA’s Energy Forecast for 2017 Laced With “Uncertainty”

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, December 14, 2016:  

English: Logo of the U.S. Energy Information A...

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) was hesitant to forecast where oil and gasoline prices might be in 2017. It said in its Short Term Energy Outlook published last week: “The values of futures and options contracts indicate significant uncertainty in the price outlook.”

Indeed they do. With a 95-percent confidence level, the EIA says the price of oil next year could vary anywhere between

Keep Reading…

OPEC Agreement to Limit Production Boosts Crude Price 11 Percent

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, December 1, 2016:

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

The global price of crude oil jumped more than 11 percent since OPEC announced on Wednesday its first agreement to limit production by the cartel since 2008. There are many moving parts to the agreement — perhaps too many.

First, the cartel’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, has promised to

Keep Reading…

Who Knew Mexico Had So Much Oil? Who Cared?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, November 28, 2016:  

According to the CIAs 2015 World Factbook, Mexico had less than 10 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves as of last December. That placed the country at 17th position, just ahead of Angola and just behind Algeria. The fact that it had ten times more than that underground and under the Gulf of Mexico didnt matter. If you cant get to it, it doesnt count.

And ever since 1938 a succession of Mexican statist presidents made sure no one could get to it. When then-President Lazaro Cardenas consolidated all foreign oil producers by nationalizing their properties, he named the resulting company Pemex. And then he and future presidents milked it for all it was worth, funding various socialist projects, setting up retirement plans for their political cronies, and in general ignoring the untapped reserves lying just offshore.

Keep Reading…

OPEC to Meet in Vienna Wednesday to Plan Production Cuts

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, November 25, 2016: 

Oil ministers from the 14 oil producing countries that make up the OPEC cartel are arriving in Vienna to prepare for their formal gathering there next Wednesday. The meeting is supposed to finalize a tentative agreement reached in September that would put a cap on the cartel’s production in an effort to raise the price of a barrel of crude oil. A sufficient rise would reduce the pain currently being inflicted on those members as the decision to keep pumping in November 2014 has bitten them — some of them badly.

Saudi Arabia was forced last month to

Keep Reading…

OPEC Lives in a Dream World

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, November 18, 2016:  

There are at least two problems with Saudi Arabia’s oil minister’s dream as he expressed it on television on Thursday: one, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and two, what he does know is wrong.

Mark Twain put it well: “It’s not what you don’t know that kills you. It’s what you know for sure that ain’t true.”

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Khalid al-Falih (shown), still thinks OPEC can impact the world oil markets the way they were able to just a few short years ago:

Keep Reading…

Multi-nationals Are Leaving Venezuela, Selling Out at Fire Sale Prices

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, November 16, 2016:  

Over the last year, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, auto parts maker Dana, Clorox, Kimberly-Clark, Bridgestone Tire, and Liberty Mutual have either sold out their Venezuelan interests at huge losses, have given their factories and properties away for free, or are planning to. Those who used to work for them are now working in another profession: as bachaqueros. This is slang for “giant ants,” used as a pejorative to describe street vendors offering their wares in the black market.

General Mills sold its operations at half the assessed value, while Dana was lucky

Keep Reading…

OPEC Fails to Agree as U.S. Energy Industry Ramps Up

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, October 31, 2016:

After 12 hours of effort to hash out an agreement to cut oil production that can be presented formally to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in November, 14 oil ministers meeting in Vienna over the weekend gave birth to — a goose egg. Without an agreement, the November 30 gathering is likely to be irrelevant, just as the cartel itself is becoming.

Every cartel eventually blows up due to members unwillingness to 

Keep Reading…

Saudi Arabia to Sell $10 Billion in Bonds to Shore Up Its Finances

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, October 19, 2016:  

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

Oil ministers from Saudi Arabia have been traveling the world doing investment “roadshows” to promote their $10-billion bond offering that hits the markets this week. In so doing, they must disclose the risks investors could be taking, and then price the bonds according to those risks.

The Saudis appear to be paying the price for losing their bet about American oil producers. In November 2014 they made a massive wager that they could

Keep Reading…

Venezuela’s Collapse: Horror Beyond Belief

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, October 18, 2016:  

The Coat of arms of Venezuela

When Matt O’Brien updated his previous article on the slow-motion collapse of Venezuela on Monday for the Washington Post, he reviewed the symptoms achingly familiar to those following the events: the collapse of oil prices; the incompetence of the cronies running the state-owned oil company (former Marxist Hugo Chávez replaced the workers who knew what they were doing with political cronies who didn’t); the inflation of the currency followed as night follows day, with price controls to mask the resulting inflation; inflation, as measured by the black market’s pricing of the Venezuelan bolivar, causing the bolivar to lose more than 90 percent of its value in just two years; the empty supermarket shelves; the oppression by police of those standing in long lines to purchase whatever might be left in those stores; and on and on. As O’Brien lamented:

Keep Reading…

Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.