Monday, October 20, 2014

Oil: What Is Saudi Arabia Up To?

I'm leaning toward some sort of geopolitical quid pro quo with the U.S. but because they don't invite me to the meetings I can't tell you the quid or the quo of it. Back on Oct. 2 we had the simple observation "The folks most hurt by this drop in price are Putin, ISIS and the companies producing from shale." At that instant Brent was trading at $92.34. This morning we see $85.89.

Below you will see a vehement, almost violent reaction to the political guess.
That is what you'd expect from someone who vehemently disagrees.

It's also what you'd expect from someone in the pocket of the CIA.
Just kidding, the CIA are kindergarteners compared to some of the oil intelligence guys.

From the Financial Times:
Saudi Arabia keeps the oil market guessing
As oil prices have tumbled, one question has reverberated around the market: what is Saudi Arabia up to?
Little restraint has been shown by some energy market watchers in their commentary on the recent sell-off and the role played by Opec’s biggest producer.

The 25 per cent fall in the price of Brent crude since mid-June, to almost four-year lows, they say, is the result of a deliberate strategy by the Gulf nation to test the mettle of rival producers from Russia, to fellow Opec member Iran and US shale producers.

By refusing to lower production significantly and by cutting export prices, Saudi Arabia has started a price war that it expects to win because of its cheaper cost of production and huge foreign exchange reserves.
But cooler heads say Saudi Arabia’s recent actions are more nuanced and a reflection of market realities.
“Whenever there are questions over what the Saudis are thinking, people tend to revert to their default setting, which is that ‘this is clearly a political gesture’ and what they are doing is part of some grand design,” says Bill Farren-Price, chief executive of consultancy Petroleum Policy Intelligence and a long-time Opec-watcher. “It’s an absolute myth.”

Prices have extended their rout into a fourth month, as high levels of production from North American shale formations has coincided with sustained output from Libya and Iraq, despite the bloodshed that has ravaged both countries. At the same time demand has slowed amid sluggish economic growth in Europe and Asia, creating a surplus.

With the current market scenario having crept up on Saudi Arabia, it has had two options: accept a period of lower prices in order to retain market share. Or, cut production and sacrifice market share in defence of higher oil prices. It seems to have taken the former.

“For the Saudis, cutting production significantly right now is suicidal. They are not going to fight such market movements,” says Nat Kern, president of Foreign Reports, a Washington-based consulting firm. “They could cut to stabilise the price at $100, but demand is weak, so they could then be in a position where they would have to cut again and again.”...MORE