Sunday, February 18, 2024
Wednesday, February 14, 2024
In fact, it's something yours truly agreed with former BP boss Bob Dudley back in 2017 at the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul, who if the Oilholic recollects well, was positioning his company to even weather a $30 per barrel oil price. Speaking of CEOs, Occidental's boss Vicki Hollub told Business Insider that oil oversupply may well be keeping prices low, but the situation is about to flip!
And of course, Goldman Sachs analysts reckon we may be about to enter a commodities supercycle with a potential for driving oil prices as high as - yup you guessed it - $100 per barrel. Well we shall see, but for now $70-$80 will do, and the Oilholic seriously doubts we'll hit $100 imminently! Elsewhere, oil giant BP hiked its dividend by 10% and accelerated the pace of share buybacks in a bid - by its new CEO Murray Auchincloss - to woo investors.
And finally, here is one's take via Forbes on US President Joe Biden's arguably barmy plan to pause the approvals of new LNG export projects for a review. All at a time when his country has become the world's largest LNG exporter! Clever eh? Well that's all for now folks. More market thoughts to follow later in the month. Keep reading, keep it here, keep it 'crude'!
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
As the first month of the current oil trading year nears its end, the Oilholic's thoughts on the direction of crude prices hasn't materially altered. We're likely to see prices oscillate in the range of $70 and $85 per barrel in 2024, using Brent as a benchmark. And that's because the bearish bias in wider market fundamentals remains the same in a different trading year, despite all the geopolitical flare-ups we've seen October. We'll touch on those later in this blog. However, admittedly it has been the maddest possible start to trading.
Feeling the pulse of the market and tepid demand, the Saudis made two profound short- and medium-term decisions. The first came early in the month after Aramco - the Saudi state-owned behemoth - announced a cut to official selling prices (OSPs) for all regions, including lucrative Asian markets, for several crude grades. These included Aramco's flagship Arab Light crude oil. Aramco said cuts in Asia would be as high as $2 per barrel versus the Dubai Oman regional crude benchmark from January levels.
The Saudis, having voluntarily cut their headline production down to 9 million barrels per day (bpd), want to make sure every single drop of it gets sold in a competitive market receiving plenty of barrels, especially of US light crude.
The second move came late-January, after Aramco said it was stopping its expansion plans and concentrating on a maximum sustained capacity of 12 million bpd. This immediately generated headlines along the lines of the Saudis acknowledging the end of oil, which, as the Oilholic said via market commentary on several broadcasters, is a load of rubbish.
Aramco plans to finish the oilfields it has started - namely Berri (250,000 bpd), Dammam (75,000 bpd), Marjan (300,000 bpd) and Zuluf (600,000 bpd). There's only one project cancellation and the company intends to let some other existing fields decline. So with respect, it is nothing more than a pragmatic business move faced with changing medium- to long-term demand in a market the Saudis hope to tap with aplomb for as long as they can.
Away from Saudi moves there were geopolitical flash points aplenty. But none of these managed to move the oil price quite like they used to back when US crude barrels weren't keeping the global markets honest. Following weeks of attacks by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels on energy and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the US and UK pounded Houthi positions and infrastructure. The Houthis vowed a response and their sporadic attacks on shipping continued.
Then on January 28, after over 170 drone and missile attacks on US bases in Syria, Jordan and Iraq since October by Iran-backed proxies in the Middle East, one got through and killed three service personnel. The US' imminent response is to be expected and could mark a dangerous escalation. Where this goes is anybody's guess. But an attack by the US on Iranian soil appears unlikely. (Should it happen, and its hasn't since the 1980s, we could see crude prices around the $90s).
As things stand, crude prices remain range bound. January offered precious little to alter this despite it being one of the most volatile starts to a trading year. Well that's all for now folks. More market thoughts to follow. Keep reading, keep it here, keep it 'crude'!
Saturday, January 20, 2024
Saturday, November 11, 2023
With hostilities in the Middle East failing to lift crude prices despite all the talk of risk premiums and potential supply disruptions, being bullish about oil early in 2024 is proving hard. That's because concerns over crude demand are outweighing concerns over supply.
We're talking muted demand from the economic powerhouses of Germany and China, lower consumer confidence levels in key OECD markets and elevated interest rate levels kept there by major global central banks, especially the US Federal Reserve.
It therefore came as a surprise to The Oilholic when the World Bank opined that crude prices could hit $150 if hostilities in the Middle East escalate! Here are this blogger's thoughts on that via Forbes. Simply put - don't hold your breath!
And let's not forget, Brent hasn't even capped a more realistic $100 per barrel level the bulls crave. The benchmark's January 2024 contract is barely higher than current levels, and contracts further out into the summer of next year are even lower. That implies Brent remains in backwardation mode.
Away from the crude price, the latest quarterly earnings posted by energy majors provided plenty of talking points. More so, after the return of megadeals as ExxonMobil swooped for Pioneer Natural Resources and Chevron swooped for Hess Corp.
Other deals may follow as the energy majors fish for viable plays. It's led many, including this blogger, to wonder if a supermajor itself could be vulnerable? The prime candidate for finding itself in this position is BP; a chronically undervalued supermajor in the Oilholic's opinion. More on the subject here via Forbes.
Is it possible? Yes, especially in a industry built on big ticket deals. Will it happen? Probably no, not least down to BP's $100 billion plus valuation (however discounted that may appear to some). But as yours truly noted on Forbes - that the company has had to bat away questions about being a takeover target is pretty extraordinary and indicative of how far it has fallen. Well that's all for now folks. Keep reading, keep it here, keep it 'crude'!