May 08, 2015

#Oilprices — shorter and longer term — below $100 for a decade?

Yes, some local storage may have opened up here and there, but, in other places, especially in Europe, oil is crying for a friendly home or port to take it in. That's why the plus-$60 prices of this week make little sense.

Will there be another crash in futures prices? Yes, if Chinese, European and developing world demand don't ramp up a lot in the third quarter of this year.

That, and beyond, as in beyond for the next 10 years, not just the next year, is the subject of this back-and-forth between two oil analysts. Both Phil Verleger Jr. and Paul Horsnell, even while splitting as a bear and a bull on later-year oil prices, acknowledge the genius of last fall's Saudi strategy. Verleger even wonders if KSA wasn't keeping one eye on global warming concerns continuing to rise.

As for production? Horsnell, noting that shale oil wells decline even more rapidly than shale gas ones, thinks the US may have come to near its peak in production before the shale shutdown of this spring. In other words, contra Daniel Yergin and other general yahoos at places like CERA, Peak Oil and King Hubbert are right, and the US isn't going to come that close to meeting its 1970 production peak.

Meanwhile, even with US shale producers working to continue to cut costs, they've already drilled the easiest shale oil, the cheapest shale oil. After all, that's the keystone of the whole idea of Peak Oil. So, US oil production costs will likely continue to rise.

So, the pair both expect sub-$100 prices for as much as 7-10 years out, but with volatility and spikes plenty.

And, there could be other things to confirm that. If the US's beta peak is peaking, Russia may also be peaking, and we may be at or very near that world peak.

Texas oil guru Amy Jaffe, transplanted now to California, with the mix of actual insight and blather to which I'm accustomed, says that world demand will decrease by two decades from now, so we shouldn't worry too much. Her blather side includes, in the face of all I've just written, that KSA is declining in importance:
The fall in the importance of Saudi Arabia is already palpable, with all the major powers from the U.S. to China more willing to accommodate Saudi archrival Iran. In addition, Russia’s ability to use oil as a weapon will wane, as will the economic leverage of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

About none of that is true, other than the Russia part.

Apparently, she missed the Iran nuke deal talks recently, and threats from not just the US but at least some EU members to tighten sanctions more if needed. I've already dismissed her nonsense about the Saudis.

As for OPEC? With the possible exception of Nigeria, the leverage of non-Gulf members of cartel likely will decline. But the Saudis, and their fellow Gulf states, not only are not in a "palpable" fall, they're likely on the rise; indeed, they're expanding drilling as we speak.

As for her decline in world demand, she doesn't even mention Africa. Given the amount of exploitation and "development" money China is sinking there, this is a great oversight.

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