Monday, January 18, 2016

Oil: As Ruble Collapses, And Despite Tough Talk, Russia Signals It May Consider Working With OPEC To Cut Production

Nothing done yet but a few countries are starting to do the talk tough but signal 'flexibility' thing.
WTI, rolling off February's $29.34 down 8 cents, March's $30.34 off a nickle.
Brent $28.82, still down but off the $27.76 we saw last night.

Here, RT notes the currency decline:

Ruble nosedives on plunging crude 
The fall in oil prices below $28 per barrel continued the freefall of the Russian ruble as it hit new yearly lows against the major currencies on Monday. 
The euro rose more than one ruble on the Moscow exchange, exceeding 85 rubles for first time since December 2014. The dollar reached nearly 79 rubles.

The Brent benchmark went down as low as $28.03 at the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) during Monday trading. Russian Ural's blend trades about 11 percent lower.

According to Central Bank of Russia First Deputy Governor Ksenia Yudaeva, the regulator may increase the key interest rate if inflationary risks, caused by the devaluation of ruble continue to have a negative impact on the economy.

The Russian budget for 2016 is still based on $50 oil, but the government is going to update it and is working on a $25, $35 and $45 oil stress test....MORE

The Russian Central Bank is budgeting for $35 oil lasting three years, see the links in Dec. 29's "The Russian Economy Is Showing Signs of Cracking"

Meanwhile, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak is talking tough. From Deutsche Welle, Jan. 15:

Russia refuses to rein in oil production in 2016

Russia is keeping oil production at record levels in 2016 - following similar strategies by other oil producers like Saudi Arabia based on preserving market share against more cost-intensive products like US shale.  
Russia is unlikely to coordinate with oil cartel OPEC to roll back oil production in order to prop up falling oil prices, the country's energy minister Alexander Novak said on Friday.

In fact, Russia is also set to keep production at record levels - following similar strategies by other oil producing states like Saudi Arabia based on preserving market share against more cost-intensive products like US shale.

Russia will see a "slight increase" in output from last year's levels, Novak said. In 2015, the country's oil supplies reached 534 million tons - the largest amount since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Novak's comments come after a meeting last month of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries ended without an agreement to boost prices and amid calls from OPEC members for Russia to rein in its own supply....MORE
However... From Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the Telegraph on the 14th:

Glimmers of hope for oil as Russia poised to slash output 
RBC Capital Markets said the changes in Russia could pave the way for an implicit accord with Opec but huge hurdles remain
The first signs of a thaw are emerging for the battered oil market after Russia signalled a sharp fall in exports this year, a move that may offset the long-feared surge of supply from Iran.
The oil-pipeline monopoly Transneft said Russian companies are likely to cut crude shipments by 6.4pc over the course of 2016, based on applications submitted so far by Lukoil, Rosneft, Gazprom and other producers. 
This amounts to a drop of 460,000 barrels a day (b/d), enough to eliminate a third of the excess supply flooding the world and potentially mark the bottom of the market. Russia is the world’s biggest producer of oil, and has been exporting 7.3m b/d over recent months.

Transneft told journalists in Moscow that tax changes account for some of the fall but economic sanctions are also beginning to inflict serious damage. External credit is frozen and drillers cannot easily import  equipment and supplies.

New projects have been frozen and output from the Soviet-era fields in western Siberia is depleting at an average rate of 8pc to 11pc each year. Russia's deputy finance minister, Maxim Oreshkin, told news agency TASS that the oil price crash could lead to “hard and fast closures in coming months”.

What is unclear is whether the production cuts are purely driven by markets or whether it is in part a political move to pave the way for a deal with Saudi Arabia. Opec stated in December that it is too small to act alone and will not cut production unless non-Opec states join the effort to stabilize the market, a plea clearly directed at Russia...MORE
HT on the AEP: MarketWatch 

So, nothing done but with short positions in the futures markets at record levels someone is going to make some big money.
And someone is going to get their head blown off.