Oil at $50

400This Newsletter has considered the oil market (No. 92 of 21.01.2015 and No. 141 of 15.11.2016) before and confirms that the oil price is presently behaving in accordance with the forecast made almost two and a half years ago. Oil price charts show that the price has been hovering at $50 (50 US dollars per barrel) for some time.

         The Saudi strategy of not reducing production in 2015 so as not to lose market share and at the same time knock American shale producers out of the market was only partially successful in that market share was maintained while American shale oil producers were put under pressure. The result was a reduction in US shale oil production accompanied by a reduction in the number of rigs operating. There was, however, a side effect that the Saudis had not anticipated. The Americans responded by increasing the efficiency of fracking with technological improvements, including horizontal drilling, so that rig production rose significantly. If shale oil producers had operating costs of $80 a barrel before 2015, by 2016 some wells were costing only $20 to produce a barrel and many others were profitable at a price of $40 a barrel.

         The result was that as the price went to under $40, the Americans could quickly increase production to take advantage of their newly developed technological advances. The reaction of OPEC was to start negotiating for cuts in production to keep up the oil price. That was not particularly effective as other players, notably Venezuela, Iraq and Iran were not participating. The most recent OPEC strategy for maintaining price levels seems to be short quick cuts in production as opposed to lower long-term production levels. This new policy may result in market share loss as the Americans will quickly increase the amount of oil flowing out of shale rigs in order to compensate for spikes in the market due to erratic OPEC supplies.

         As of 14 May 2017 the price of WTI crude was 47.84 and Brent crude 50.84 upon news that US stockpiles were lighter than usual, which perked up the market a bit. In any case it is clear that there is no shortage of supply, and it is the case that supply and demand still determine prices. Should it happen that Venezuela and Libya succeed in achieving some sort of stability, their production could increase significantly and further depress prices. At the moment this is unlikely. If the Syria conflict is resolved, even more oil will be coming out of the Middle East. Geopolitical events will always influence the oil price, which will oscillate around the 50$ level for some time to come. That is bad news for the UAE, the Saudis and the Russians but good news for consumers.

Walter Snyder    

This Newsletter has been prepared by WWS Swiss Financial Consulting SA (the company). Even though every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the content of the Newsletter, there is absolutely no guarantee that the information contained in it is correct, up-to-date, accurate or otherwise applicable. It is not intended as a solicitation, invitation or recommendation for the purchase or sale of any investment fund or product or security or financial instrument or to participate in any particular trading strategy or banking product in any jurisdiction. It is not to be distributed in any country or area where it is legally prohibited. No liability whatsoever is or will be assumed by the company for any damage, loss or negative result of any sort ensuing from following views expressed and contained in the Newsletter. Investors themselves assume the full risk for any decisions that they take (caveat emptor). The Newsletter may not be reproduced or published by anyone anywhere in any way or form without the express written permission of the company.




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