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

Oil Production Still Increasing — Confounding Experts

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, March 16, 2015: 

Logo of International Energy Agency

A month ago the International Energy Agency (IEA) began hedging its bet that declining oil prices would cut production: “U.S. supply [of crude oil] so far shows precious little sign of slowing down. Quite to the contrary, it continues to defy expectations.” 

This is how economists say “Oops!” 

On Friday the IEA was still astonished at the resilience of the oil industry as it continued to produce at record levels, despite predictions that declining rig counts would force production cuts. Instead, total U.S. crude oil production hit a high of 9.4 million barrels a day during the week ending March 6. 

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US Crude Production Sets Record in March, Surprises the IEA

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, March 15, 2015: 

Just a quick look at the history of the International Energy Agency should convince anyone of its inefficacy: founded in 1974 at the suggestion of Henry Kissinger, its focus is on management of other peoples’ resources. Its mandate: the “3Es”: energy security, economic development, and environmental protection. The fact that it lacks any understanding of how the free market automatically addresses these issues showed up a month ago when its prediction of lower oil production in the US fell flat: “The U.S. supply [of crude oil] so far shows precious little sign of slowing down. Quite to the contrary, it continues to defy expectations.”

On Friday it confirmed its ignorance of how the free market works when it announced – surprise of surprises – that

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Will this be OPEC’s Final Failed Gamble?

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, February 18, 2015: 

Cover of "The Prize: The Epic Quest for O...

Six years ago historian Daniel Yergin wrote in The Prize about OPEC’s failed gamble in 1986. The cartel tried to secure its preeminent place among the world’s oil producers by forcing crude oil prices down:

Was the price now poised for a great fall? Most of the exporters [primarily OPEC] thought so, but they expected no more than a drop [from more than $30 a barrel] to $18 or $20 a barrel, below which, they thought, production … would not be economical….

 

Actually, operating costs – the cash costs to extract oil – were only $6 per barrel [at the time], so there would be no reason to shut down production at any price above that.

The cartel was hoping to squeeze out marginal producers, which would result in cuts in supply, allowing it to raise prices at will. It didn’t work then, and it isn’t working now. The Saudis apparently suffer from an appalling lack of understanding about how the free market works.

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Re-fracking Old Wells Is Extending the Fracking Revolution

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, February 17, 2015:

English: A natural gas well (produces gas only...

A natural gas well

News that the oil industry is importing many of the new technologies developed by natural-gas producers, which led to steadily declining natural-gas prices, was greeted with great disappointment by at least one green group. Upon learning that fracking was not only a long way from disappearing in the face of declining oil prices but was actually on the verge of a resurgence, Sharon Wilson, a Texas organizer for Earthworks, told Bloomberg, “It’s terribly disappointing.”

It might be disappointing to Wilson, but

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Putin to Ukraine’s President: “What’s Mine is Mine…”

This article was first published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, February 13, 2015:

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

Leaders of Germany, France, Lithuania, and Ukraine labored mightily into the night on Wednesday, to birth a minnow. Gathering around a table somewhere in the city of Minsk, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko agreed to a weak-kneed, temporary cease-fire between Russia-backed insurgents in eastern Ukraine and Poroshenko’s troops. It will begin on Sunday, and hopes are modest that it will stick this time.

Even if it doesn’t, it will cement into place Putin’s insurgents’ position.

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Oil Price Decline Hurting Alaska the Most

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 26, 2015:

State Seal of Alaska.

Although oil-producing states such as North Dakota and Texas are expected to suffer declines in revenues if oil prices continue to drop, other states such as Wyoming, Louisiana, and especially Alaska will feel much more than just a temporary pinch. According to the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Ratings Service,

If lower prices persist through 2015, the economies and finances of the energy producing states — Louisiana, Alaska, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma and North Dakota — will be put to the test.

Oil and mineral revenues account for a third of Wyoming’s budget, one-sixth of New Mexico’s, and one-eighth of Louisiana’s, while Texas — the state that, standing alone, would be the eighth-largest oil-producing country in the world — counts on less than

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Canada’s Oil Sands Impervious to Crude Oil’s Price Decline

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, January 14, 2015:

 

On Monday – the same day that UAE’s Energy Minister Suhall al-Mazrouel said that OPEC was going to stick to its decision to keep pumping regardless of price declines – the same day that Goldman Sachs issued its negative outlook for prices – when crude oil prices dropped in response by 5 percent, hitting a six-year-low of $44.20 a barrel on Tuesday, the CFO of Canadian Natural Resources announced he was going to expand both its production and its output into 2015 and beyond.

Chief Financial Officer Corey Bleber was oblivious to the carnage, saying that his company expected its overall output for 2015 to be at least seven percent ahead of last year’s, and that it would continue

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Impacts of Lower Crude Oil Prices Continue to Spread

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, January 13, 2015:

 

After oil forecaster Jeremy Warner got lucky last year when he accurately called the top in oil prices, with a fall to at least $80 a barrel, he doubled down by predicting “that the oil price will remain low for a long time, sinking to perhaps as little as $20 a barrel over the coming year before recovering a little.”

Warner got lucky once again when Goldman Sachs confirmed his prognosis, setting off an eye-popping five percent decline in oil to $45 a barrel which continued into Tuesday. Tuesday’s low was $44.20. As Goldman Sachs noted,

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Oil Patch Activity Is Starting to Slow

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, January 9, 2015:

U.S. Steel

In a letter to his union workers at U.S. Steel’s pipe and tube plant in Lorain, Ohio, Tom McDermott, president of United Steelworkers local 1104, was blunt:

The company has suddenly lost a great deal of business because of the recent downturn in the oil industry. What appeared just a few short weeks ago as being a productive year … has most abruptly turned sour.

So sour that U.S. Steel is idling 614 or its 700 workers in Lorain, along with all 142 of its workers in its Houston, Texas plant.

This is likely to be just the beginning. Even as U.S. Steel poured hundreds of millions into its gamble that producing “oil country tubular goods,” or OCTG, would reverse years of losses, other steel makers have done the same:

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Politics Overwhelms Economics as Crude Drops into the $40s

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, January 7, 2015:

English: Kingdom Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia....

Kingdom Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Most prognosticators are concentrating on their understanding of economics to inform their predictions on how much lower crude oil prices can go. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand: supply is increasing, demand is decreasing (and it’s inelastic, to boot), so when demand meets supply – and “clears the market” as economists call it – crude will find a bottom.

One analyst at CNN expects oil to drop into the $30s, declaring that

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Human Progress Is Accelerating, Says Cato

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, December 31, 2014: 

Cato Institute

The Cato Institute continues to update its Human Progress website with sources from around the world showing graphically the enormous progress human beings have made in every conceivable area of their lives, especially over the last 50 years. 

From communications to the environment, from housing to transportation, there’s a data set that shows how far the human race has come in a very short period of time. 

Cato’s primary purpose in continuing to develop its HumanProgress.org website, already remarkably robust, is to dispel the common myth that things are getting worse, and at an accelerating rate: 

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Venezuela’s Welfare State Collapsing Along with Oil Prices

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 29, 2014:

 

As oil prices have dropped, so has Venezuela’s revenue stream that supports its welfare state. Ninety-five percent of Venezuela’s export earnings come from crude oil, and the industry makes up one quarter of the country’s gross domestic product. With oil prices setting new lows last week, Venezuela’s economy, already on the ropes, is set to descend into chaos, anarchy, and looting. The decision by Saudi Arabia to continue to pump in order to maintain its market share reveals not only the inherent inability of any cartel to maintain itself over time, but also the inability of a welfare state to sustain itself without outside help.

With the world’s largest oil reserves, surpassing those even of Saudi Arabia, an uninformed observer would be unable to explain how a country as richly blessed with natural resources as Venezuela could go broke,

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Collapse in Oil and Natural Gas Prices Hitting OPEC the Hardest

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, December 29, 2014: 

On November 17, gas prices had dropped to $1.9...

As prices for crude oil and natural gas continued their precipitous fall over the last five weeks, most commentators have been focusing on the impact — real or predicted — on the oil and gas industry in the United States. Little noticed, however, was the report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) about how those declines are likely to affect OPEC.

OPEC’s total revenues, which hit an all-time high of $900 billion in 2012, are expected to decline by half next year, to just $446 billion. And that projection is based on the assumption that oil prices will average

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Energy Junk Bond Investors Heading for the Exits

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Sunday, December 14, 2014:

English: Oil well An oil rig used for training.

An oil rig used for training.

As crude oil prices continue their breath-taking fall, the ripple effect is beginning to reach far beyond the gas pump. On Friday crude oil dropped below $60 a barrel, causing some experts to predict $55 a barrel the following week and $40 a barrel within a few months.

That is putting pressure on oil producers to service their massive debts — some $550 billion incurred in the last five years — and scaring bond investors who are now looking to sell.

It’s a mania, said Tim Gramatovich of Peritus Asset Management who oversees a bond portfolio of $800 million: “Anything that becomes a mania — ends badly. And this is a mania.”

Bill Gross, who used to run PIMCO’s gigantic bond portfolio and now advises the Janus Capital Group, explained that “there’s very little liquidity” in junk bonds. This is the language a bond fund manager uses to tell people that

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Gas Prices: How Much Lower and Longer?

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, December 5, 2014: 

On November 17, gas prices had dropped to $1.9...

It made headline news when a OnCue Express station in Oklahoma City dropped its price for regular unleaded gasoline to $1.99 gallon on Wednesday. What didn’t make the headlines is what happened next: Drivers seeking to save a few pennies created long lines at OnCue, and so another station down the street, responding to the competition, cut its price to $1.98 a gallon. By the end of the day, another station located in nearby Moore, Oklahoma, cut its price to $1.95 a gallon. 

Gas wars are back, helping consumers and providing living, breathing proof that, despite everything, the free market still works. 

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Crude Oil Price Declines Reveal Who’s Swimming Naked

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, December 3, 2014: 

Ali Al Naimi

Ali Al Naimi

One of the most famous homespun quotes Warren Buffett ever uttered is this: “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” With the decline in crude oil prices of nearly 50 percent since June, more and more people are finding themselves swimming naked, or they’re about to.

Consider the formerly invincible oil cartel, OPEC, which seems to be suffering from delusions of its former glory by taking on oil producers in America. Instead of cutting production in order to “stabilize” oil prices, the cartel, led by the aging big kahuna, Saudi Arabia, has decided to

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Lower Crude Oil Prices Already Pinching Producers

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, December 2, 2014:

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

As crude oil prices continued their breathtaking drop, the CEO of Canadian Natural Resources, Canada’s largest oil company, Murray Edwards (the 14th wealthiest Canadian) was asked on Friday just how much further crude oil prices could decline. His response:

On a given day you can have market fluctuations where prices fluctuate far more than the underlying economic value of the unit. Prices could spike down to $30, $40. It got down to $35 in 2008, for a very short period of time.

On Monday crude oil prices briefly stabilized and then dropped further on Tuesday, hitting new four-year lows.

This pronouncement is at odds with an oil production estimate by the seemingly eternal oil optimist and economist Mark Perry, who rejoiced on Monday that

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George Mitchell: the one man most Likely Missing from Thanksgiving Day lists

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, November 28, 2014:

English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymo...

English: “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a safe bet that Americans, in compiling their list of blessings for which they were most thankful on Thanksgiving Day, didn’t put George Mitchell at the top. It’s even safer to bet that most Americans don’t even know who he was, or how his life has made life better for nearly every American today.

The Economist had it right: “Few businesspeople have done as much to change the world as George Mitchell.” The founder of Mitchell Energy & Development Company located in Galveston, Texas, Mitchell was responsible for drilling more than 10,000 natural gas wells and, in the process, resetting the world’s energy equation.

Although he passed away over a year ago at the age of 94, Mitchell’s advances in fracking technology are continuing to delight American drivers with

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Oil Market: Lower Gas Prices not the Only Reason to be Thankful

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2014:

When news from Vienna arrived on Wall Street early Thanksgiving morning that OPEC wasn’t going to cut its production quotas to stabilize crude oil prices, those prices immediately fell even further, touching lows not seen in four years. West Texas Intermediate briefly touched $70 a barrel while Brent crude was close behind, at $73.

Oil hit a high of $147 a barrel in July 2008, so Thursday’s drop represents an astonishing 52-percent decline in just over six years. This coincides with an 80-percent increase in crude oil production by the United States over that same period. As economies around the world struggle to regain their footing, thanks to failing Keynesian policies, the demand for crude remains about where it was 10 years ago. With flat demand and increasing supply, it was only a matter of time before prices started to fall.

American consumers are benefitting enormously,

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Pressure Building to Repeal Two Laws Keeping Oil and Gas Prices High

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 17, 2014:

Senator Lisa Murkowski

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski

Alaskan Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, soon to chair the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, is already setting the table for a serious conversation about getting rid of at least one archaic law dating back to the mid-1970s: the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975.

That law bans the export of crude oil (with some minor exceptions) and could endanger the oil shale boom as a result. Said Murkowski:

The price American drivers pay for gasoline at their local station is linked to the price of oil set by the global market.

 

Exporting U.S. oil to our friends and allies will not raise gasoline prices here at home and should, in fact, help drive down prices.

As the price of crude oil drops, it increases the chances that smaller marginal crude oil producers will be forced to close unless they are allowed to find buyers outside the United States willing to pay more for their product. One of the bottlenecks has already been opened:

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