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60 Reasons Why Oil Investors Should Hang On

January 26th, 2016

crudeoilDan Doyle:  Inventories will continue to rise, but the momentum is slowing.

The following are some observations as to how we got here and how we’re gonna get out.

9 reasons why oil has taken so long to bottom:

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1. OPEC increased production in 2015 to multiyear highs, principally in Saudi Arabia and Iraq where production between the two added 1.5 million barrels per day (mb/d) to inventories after the no cut stance was adopted.

2. Russian production increased in 2015 to post Soviet highs.

3. Long planned Gulf of Mexico production began coming on in late 2015.

4. An overhang of 3,000 or 4,000 shale wells that were drilled but uncompleted (“ducks”) entered a completion cycle in 2015.

5. Service companies and suppliers went to zero margin survival pricing (not to be confused with efficiency). The result has been an artificial boost to completions that cannot be sustained.

6. Resilience among a few operators in the Permian who felt the need to thump their chests, creating the rally that killed the rally last spring (disclosure: I own stock in Pioneer Resources but am going to dump it if they don’t cut it out!).

7. The dollar strengthened.

8. Iranian exports are coming.

9. And, finally, China.

5 Demand-Side Reasons Why We Need to Hang-On:

1. Chinese oil demand is up year-over-year by 8 percent. It is expected to slow in 2016 to as low as 2 percent (maybe) but it is still growth in a tightening market.

2. Watch Chinese car sales. They were sluggish in early 2015 but finished very strong in what could be a 2016 V-shaped recovery.

3. The Indian economy is on a tear. The IMF has it as the world’s fastest growing large economy. GDP growth was 7.3 percent in 2015 and is projected to be 7.5 percent in 2016. That trumps Chinese growth. Although India’s oil demand is only one-third that of China, it is the growth picture that should be better covered by analysts and headlines. India is about to be the world’s most populous nation with a middle class that is likely to double over the next 15 years. 40 cars now service 1,000 people but that is rapidly changing. And this is not something that will occur sometime, someday in the future. 2015 Indian consumption grew by 300,000 barrels per day (bpd).

4. U.S. consumption has been increasing with higher employment and lower fuel costs. Truck and full size SUV sales have been extraordinary.

5. Europe, the world’s largest oil market, is in a decade long decline but not as steeply as it was. Asia demand is strong with Vietnam’s GDP growing 7.5 percent in 2015. Middle East countries are seeing increases in consumption. And as a final observation, go back one year when most oil analysts were looking at supply as the means to a correction. Demand was thought to be too inelastic and would thus take too long to play out. But it was demand that responded first. When the story is written, it will be demand that outplayed supply 2 to 1 on our way to parity. Thereafter, if we go into imbalance, it will be the damage done to supply that really moves prices.

16 Supply-Side Reasons Why We Need to Hang On

1. Earlier in 2015 global supply exceeded demand by about 2.2 mb/d according to the EIA. Others had it at 2.5 mb/d. The EIA now has it down to 1.3 mb/d and change. We are still nowhere near an inflection point but we are converging.

2. The rig count in OPEC’s GCC countries has not corrected down with prices. It is mostly maintenance drilling and somewhat additive in Saudi Arabia. The level of production that we have seen lately likely means the GCC is close to or at capacity.

3. There is near universal acknowledgement that there will be another 300,000 to 500,000 bpd decline in U.S. production this year. It could be more given the struggles of the onshore conventional market which alone should give up 150,000 bpd. Shale’s steep decline rates will easily make up the rest even against increasing Gulf of Mexico production.

4. Global non OPEC, non U.S. production will decline by 300,000 to 400,000 bpd in 2016 according to the IEA. This number could increase as marginal production at current low prices comes off line due to lifting costs.

5. After an upside surprise in 2015 Russian production, there is a building consensus that 2016 results will be off with further declines thereafter. Russian oil giant Lukoil is stacking contractor rigs which will show up fairly soon in the numbers. State backed Rosneft is showing financial strain.

6. Pemex production is down 10 percent.

7. North Sea production, which has increased over the last few years, will slip in 2016.

8. Long-term Canadian oil sands projects will come on in 2016 as will some production in Brazil, but even collectively the amounts are small. It’s probable too that some of the oil miners will put a hold on production due to lower product costs (about $15/bbl less than WTI) and extraordinarily high lifting and processing costs (some of the sands are subjected to subsurface CO2 drives, others are surface mined).

9. Anticipated Iranian exports are here, but the projections are all over the place from the Iranian government’s claim of 1 million b/day in 6 to 12 months to Rystad Energy’s claim of 150,000 b/day. Even the middle ground argument of 500,000 b/day assumes Iran can get back to their long term trend line, which had been declining during the 5 years prior to 2011 sanctions. Fields are in poor repair and the gas drives essential to production have been mostly abandoned. All in, it’s most likely that production will stutter step up to the trend line due to delays caused by political process and infrastructure funding. This, like all things, will take longer than expected but watch out for early sales. You will be seeing more inventory than production as Iran unloads the 30 to 45 million barrels of oil in storage. Allow some time to work off stocks to get an idea of the actual production numbers which will likely disappoint.

10. Depending on the source, $140 to $200 billion of expenditures has come off of long term projects in 2015 with calls for another $40 to $150 billion in cancellations and postponements in 2016. This won’t be made up by renewables. The current and projected crude and natural gas prices have dis-incentivized consumers from wind and solar. Governments after the Paris accord may throw money around but consumers will likely not follow until commodity prices make them.

11. All said, these capex cuts will result in a loss of at least 5 mb/d in long-horizon production. These are the goliath type projects that we absolutely need to match to current plus anticipated consumption increases.

12. Existing wells have natural decline curves. Some hold up better than others but all said the global yearly decline rate without additional drilling is right around 4 mb/d.

13. Hedged bets started coming off in late 2015 and will continue in early 2016. Accompanying this could be the capitulation in activity and production that the market has been looking for.

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