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: OPEC

More Evidence that OPEC’s Influence is Waning

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 22, 2017:

A measure of the success – and failure – of OPEC’s agreement to limit crude oil production can be seen in the chart of NYMEX crude oil price behavior (Sources below) dating from last fall. When the agreement was inked back in November, crude was at $46.50 a barrel. The price soared and traders got excited, putting in long bets that set records.

By early January, reality began setting in as compliance among the cartel’s members and non-members (who agreed to go along for the ride) began to wane. The roof fell in a couple of weeks ago when inventory builds continued to set records, and the price dropped through support at $50.

In other words, in OPEC’s attempt to birth an elephant, it succeeded in birthing a gnat.

Saudi Arabia maintained a stiff upper lip during the Houston oil conference, stating flat out that

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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

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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,

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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,

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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

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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

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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:

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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:

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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,

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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

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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

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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

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Mexico’s Huge Oil Reserves Now Open to Private Exploration

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 28, 2016:  

Four years ago Enrique Peña Nieto (pictured, with Donald Trump) promised while running for president of Mexico that, if he were elected, he would open the country’s energy industry to the private sector. At the time his promise was almost laughable. While he did win the election, his party controlled less than 40 percent of the Congress, below the 50 percent needed to gain any kind of traction for his promise, and far below the two-thirds majority needed to attack the root cause: a constitution that prevented any outside competition to either of its state-owned oil (Pemex) or electricity (CFE) monopolies. He also faced enormous political pressure from leftist labor unions, environmentalists, and beneficiaries of the various welfare-state programs that revenues from Pemex were funding.

But within two years he had accomplished the impossible: Articles 28 and 29 in his country’s constitution were modified, allowing private producers in to explore, extract, refine, transport, store, and distribute crude oil and natural gas. This included allowing private companies to bid to generate electricity in competition with CFE.

Pemex was formed in 1938 with the remnants of foreign oil companies that were nationalized by Mexico’s then-President Lázaro Cárdenas. And the memories of that takeover still lingered.

But when he announced the new freedom to open bidding for oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico, Nieto said:

Reforms are the foundation for building a better country. They are [the] platform for beginning a new stage of development….

 

One of the key elements of the reform is to enable competition in the market. Competition should bring better prices to industry, which, in turn, can be more competitive, increasing exports, generating new employment and reducing prices in the local market.

He described the lifting of the heavy hand of the state from his country’s energy industry as “knocking down the walls”: “If we really want to achieve change in these [industries], then this has to be a structural change … we have to be the government that knocks down the walls that are in the way of achieving a more equitable and just society.”

Within weeks of Nieto’s announcement in August 2014, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) adjusted Mexico’s oil and gas projections upward by 25 percent and then, as foreign interest in developing Mexico’s vast untapped reserves began to surface, it readjusted them once again, this time by 75 percent.

It took time for the improvement in production to take place, not only because of the new rules that the government was tasked to write to incorporate the new freedoms, but because of the enormous decline in crude oil and natural gas prices set off by OPEC’s decision in November 2014 to flood the market.

But now, with the recovery in oil prices, interest in the nearly 1,000 oil and gas leases of Nieto’s country has skyrocketed. In August Exxon Mobil joined with Chevron and Hess to bid for rights to drill in Mexico’s deep waters. They will be competing with 20 other companies which have set their sights on the same leases, with the winner to be announced on December 5.

This has excited investors, with Business Insider calling it a “huge opportunity.” On Saturday James Stafford, writing for Oilprice.com, declared: “Welcome to the early stages of an oil and gas game that will be bigger … than anything in history. Mexico’s reform legislation … provides an unprecedented opportunity for oil companies looking to tap into Mexico’s huge oil potential.”

International Frontier Resources Corporation (IFRC), a Canadian oil development company, estimated those untapped Mexican reserves “could total as much as 115 billion barrels … [thanks to] the denationalization of 914 oil and gas leases.”

According to the CIA’s 2015 World Factbook, Mexico had less than 10 billion barrels of proven reserves as of December. If IFRC is correct, Mexico’s new proven reserves would jump to 125 billion barrels, placing it ahead not only of the United States (with 36 billion) but also the UAE (98 billion), Russia (103 billion), and Kuwait (104 billion).

As Stafford concluded: “Right now, there is nothing bigger than Mexico when it comes to oil and gas sales. We’re talking about North America, large oil reserves, good infrastructure and discoveries that are already in development.”

Once the heavy hand of the state is lifted from the economy, it’s positively astonishing what the free market can accomplish. Not only investors, but also lovers of freedom, are watching events unfold south of the border with great anticipation.

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.

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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

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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:

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Saudi Oil Minister “Optimistic” That OPEC Will Cut Production

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

English: Flag of the Organization of Petroleum...

Flag of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on television on Thursday that the crude oil market is close to becoming “balanced” between supply and demand and that the OPEC meeting happening in less than two weeks will likely generate an enforceable limit on the cartel’s production:

Reaching (a decision) to activate that ceiling of 32.5 million barrels per day will speed up the (market) recovery and will benefit producers and consumers….

 

I’m still optimistic that the consensus reached [last month] for capping production will translate … into caps on [each cartel member’s] levels.

He also added that he “hoped” an agreement the cartel might reach would be honored by non-OPEC member Russia.

Hope is not a strategy. Neither is optimism based upon it,

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Oil and Gas Prices Dropping in Anticipation of Trump Presidency

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 14, 2016:  

Even as prices for crude oil and natural gas were already declining thanks to continued overproduction by the OPEC cartel, the commitment of millions of dollars in new capital expenditures by major oil companies next year, and the stirring of recovery in the oil patch, last Tuesday’s election added additional impetus to the decline. The price for crude oil for December delivery has dropped more than $2 a barrel since the election, and Evan Kelly, writing at OilPrice.com, thinks it’s going to drop further, perhaps much further.

Reasons abound, mostly around Donald Trump’s promise to breathe new life into an industry hampered by overregulation driven by questionable concerns over global warming.  As Kelly wrote:

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Crude Drops 10 Percent; Price Decline Just Beginning

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, November 2, 2016:

Midday last Thursday, the price of crude oil for delivery in December touched $50, and it’s been all downhill since then. At noon on Wednesday crude oil futures touched $45 a barrel on news that inventories soared last week by the most in 34 years.

The market wasn’t expecting that. It was bad enough that the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a supply increase nine times greater than analysts and observers were expecting last week. Those market seers were betting on an increase of a million barrels. Instead the API reported the increase was 9.3 million — a miss of gigantic proportions.

On Wednesday, however, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that the API’s estimate was far too low:

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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.