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Friday, January 23, 2015
Oil pares gains as Saudi oil policy set to continue
[Editor: Oil prices have more than halved since the summer, when crude was more than $100 a barrel, amid an oil glut and weak global demand. A shale boom in the US has turned the US from the world’s biggest oil importer into a major producer, pumping more than 9m barrels a day.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, led a decision by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in November to keep the cartel’s production unchanged at 30m barrels a day.
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs believes that nearly $1 trillion worth of future drilling projects would no longer be profitable with Brent crude at $70 per barrel. However, it’s now trading at $45.83 per barrel, much below the benchmark level. If those projects were shut down, it would mean a production loss of 7.5 million barrels per day in 2025, equal to 8% of current global demand. This might fuel unemployment, Banking and Housing crisis in Texas, the US state, which accounts for nearly 40% of total US production; up from 25% in 2011 (The situation is actually comparable to 1986, when crude fell 50% over a matter of months).
One the other hand, the Saudi officials have been very keen to regain the market share in the oil market by increasing supply and shaking out the weak-handed producers. But at what cost? Since September, the Saudi stock market has been one of the worst performers in the world – down 25%. At one point the index was down 35%, but rallied after the country’s finance minister implied the government would not cut spending on development projects or social benefits in 2015, despite falling oil revenues. The country which derives 90 percent of its budget from oil, is already feeling the pain due to the commodity's collapse.
Now, if oil prices continue to fall, there could be a serious economic crisis in the country. Even the current oil minister of Saudi Arabia, Ali al-Naimi (a position he held since 1995) knows that. Thus, according to my understanding, the fall in Oil cannot continue further, as the equation of demand and supply is likely to take-over from here, soon.
Moreover, too much fall in oil will not be good for both China and India, who are Major Exporters to the US and the EU. Besides, this the Saudi’s have pegged their currency, the Riyal (SAR), to USD since 1986, meaning any rapid appreciation of USD will tighten domestic monetary conditions. 12-month USD/SAR forwards are trading at their highest levels since the financial crisis. If USD continues to rise and oil continues to fall, the country’s monetary policy would need a severe shift. So, I believe something will be done immediately to stem the tide]
23 January, 2015: Oil prices rose on Friday after the death of Saudi Arabia's king added to the uncertainty in global oil markets, although the new ruler indicated immediately there would be no policy change.
Brent crude rose to a high of $49.80, up $1.28 a barrel, before easing to $49.30 by 10:10 a.m. ET. U.S. light crude oil was at $46.28, down 3 cents.
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz died early on Friday and his brother Salman became king of the world's top oil exporter.
Salman named his half-brother Muqrin as heir and nephew Mohammed bin Nayef, 55, as Deputy Crown Prince, moving to forestall any succession crisis at a moment when Saudi Arabia faces unprecedented turmoil on its borders.
Saudi state television said King Salman intended to keep oil minister Ali al-Naimi in place, suggesting the country's oil policy would remain unchanged.
Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist with ABN Amro, said the initial rally after King Abdullah's death was due to uncertainty over succession and Saudi oil policy.
"There was only a spike in prices over these tensions and they eased afterwards," he said.
After seeing strong volatility and price falls earlier in January, oil markets have moved little this week, with Brent prices range-bound between $47.78 and $50.45 a barrel.
The new Saudi king is expected to continue an OPEC policy of keeping oil output steady to protect the cartel's market share from rival producers.
Abdullah's death comes amid some of the biggest shifts in oil markets in decades. Oil prices have fallen by almost 60 percent since peaking last June as soaring supplies of shale oil from North America have coincided with cooling demand.
Booming U.S. production has turned the United States from the world's biggest oil importer into one of the top producers, pumping out over 9 million barrels per day.
Data from the Energy Information Administration on Thursday showed the biggest build in U.S. crude inventory in at least 14 years, driving Brent and WTI prices apart.
To combat soaring output and falling prices, many oil exporters, such as Venezuela, wanted the 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut output in order to support prices and revenues.
Yet, led by Saudi Arabia, OPEC announced last November it would keep output steady at 30 million barrels per day.