Analysis by the father of American Geopolitics Dr. Daniel Fine, MIT.

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Reactions to Delaware Basin news shows misunderstanding of petroleum economics by Dr. Daniel Fine


The article is here-> https://www.daily-times.com/story/money/industries/oil-gas/2018/12/18/delaware-basin-news-reveals-public-misunderstanding-oil-industry-economics/2282224002/

News of the size of oil reserves in the Delaware Basin (New Mexico’s share of the Permian) while OPEC was deciding how many barrels it will cut from the world market to lift prices caused epic confusion – and revelations of how little “authorities” and the media understand petroleum economics.

The New Mexico media, which relies mainly on interviews with petroleum industry spokespersons, got it wrong.

Government numbers came out as 46 billion barrels (Permian total) with 26 in New Mexico. This means nothing but oil in good rock along with technical recovery as an estimate. Some excited “authorities,” who should know better, exclaimed that there was more.

However, the estimate is based on the application of technical means to recover the oil. The reserves of real oil depend on ultimate economic recovery. This means technical based on geology, plus economics. A high price will recover the billions of barrels while a low price will not.

In short, the numbers reflect the rocks without economics.

The Delaware reserves plus the Texas Permian are now there to expand supply over 12 million b/d in the United States.

This writer has warned that world oil demand is sluggish and imprecise with only references to legacy guesswork that the developing world plus China demand will support prices long term or forever. Yet, world oil consumption has increased only 5 percent in the last 10 years.

OPEC, with Saudi Arabia as its leader, has expired as the world administrator of the price of crude oil. At its December meeting in Austria, Qatar quit after nearly 70 years and announced concentration in LNG production and world export as the existing market leader.

OPEC emerged with a serious factional split between OPEC original and OPEC with Russia. There would have been no agreement without Russia and its old Russian Federation members as producers. Moscow is the new world oil price-setter indirectly while OPEC Original becomes a collaborator in cartel for now. Simply put, Saudi Arabia no longer is the “residual supplier” alone.

The production roll-back of 1.2 barrels per day by both “OPEC” is not enough for “balance” supply and demand for world crude oil.  It is being tested daily by commodity traders. In a briefing to New Mexico independent and small producers before the meeting in Austria, this writer warned that 1.7 million b/d was needed for balancing stabilization. Without that size of a production and export reduction, the average price of WTI oil in 2019 will average $50 per barrel.

Nearing 12 million b/d and over the Permian producers voluntarily will be required by this price to revise capital spending and place production into DUC (non-completions) and storage. There is doubt that the export of tight or shale oil would continue if the Brent price falls lower and loses its premium over WTI. A net cutback of Permian between 500,000 to 750,00 b/d should be a non-OPEC response to an oil glut even more serious than 2014.

Saudi Arabia is untouched as an American strategic ally in confronting Iran in the Middle East as a hegemonic threat.

Despite some Republicans and the Democratic Party in Congress, violation of human rights over the death of a Saudi journalist and critic of the Crown Prince will not override U.S. national interests in the Middle East.

President Trump has not deviated from post—World War Two foreign and defense policy.

Trump wants low oil prices for American consumers and forced OPEC this summer to pump more to offset export sanctions on Iran.

Still, with OPEC under a deep division which no President could achieve since 1973, Trump as a geopolitical manager of world oil has removed about 500,000 b/d between January and December of 2018. America, via Trump and without a formal cartel alignment, determines much of the price of world oil.

The United States and its Southwest tight and shale oil has changed from dependence on world oil to domination. Never again can OPEC engage the U.S. in a price and market share war as it did in 2014-2016 through supply acceleration in an oversupplied world market.

WTI emerges as the new world price. It is American barrels that set the price and OPEC is a price-taker. Since there are nearly 50 billion barrels in reserve in New Mexico, how will the Permian producers set a return on investment in a free market for petroleum?

Dr. Daniel Fine is the associate director of New Mexico Tech’s Center for Energy Policy and the State of New Mexico Natural Gas Export Coordinator. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Fine: OPEC in Houston and steel pipes from China


The article by Dr. Daniel Fine is found here-> https://www.daily-times.com/story/money/business/2018/03/25/russia-us-opec-oil-conference-houston-trump-steel-tariffs-china/421943002/

“For a week in March, Houston was the site of a world assembly of oil producers engaged in an OPEC-Russia dialogue with American shale or light tight oil producers on supply and — indirectly — price.

OPEC and Saudi Arabia pitched a market information offensive.

Put simply, American oil producers should cut-back or stabilize output in a “family” arrangement to avoid an expansion of supply that threatens the price of world oil.

But there is no U.S. Oil Company (government owned) in America, unlike all members plus Russia which are state companies. Russia is a mix. OPEC members are a price-setting cartel. So, a restaurant in Houston was selected as the site for an elite dinner of OPEC and American shale oil operators.

Platitudes and generalizations dominated the American-initiated conversation, because anything more would be in violation of U.S. anti-trust laws.

Saudi Arabia, consistent with its effort to sell shares in itself in an Initial Public Offering (forthcoming), emphasized there was enough future world demand to satisfy the Americans as well as OPEC.

This was 1.5 percent growth per year for the next decade or two.  Almost silence, however, on Saudi Aramco’s capacity expansion of another l.5 million barrels per day as “spare capacity.”

Does the future demand short term or long term offer support for an unspeakable and unenforceable supply agreement that involves enough for all? Will American shale producers in the Permian exclude themselves from capturing any growth of demand?

Devon, no longer in the San Juan Basin, but dominant in Oklahoma, is going for double-digit production increases yearly and is increasing its dividend to shareholders who might otherwise be attracted to the idea of drilling and completing less to prop up the price per barrel.

The Houston dinner failed, as a half a dozen companies did not show up in compliance with legal restrictions. It failed to persuade the America shale industry to act with OPEC’s oil supply and price management as a “family” and not as a law-breaking cartel.

Flashback to 2016: Iranian oil likely to push prices lower

Less than a week later, Iran signaled that it would not renew the production cut that has removed 1.8 million OPEC barrels of oil from the world and increased prices.
Saudi Arabia was projecting a forecast that a tight market for oil is ahead this year or next as oil projects will not replace wells while demand is strong.

Few were sold on this forecast since shale oil well completions are effectively responsive to price signals with well completions compared to conventional replacement-based on prior oil field investment.

Oil traders are largely unconvinced or agnostic listening in to the Houston contradictions. Most will watch Iran in late May as a sell signal in the making of algorithms.

The Trump Administration on steel tariffs takes the Obama Administration’s failure to do so as a starting point. It was Secretary of the Treasury Lew under Obama who made the case for tariffs during his many visits to Beijing. He would accuse China of promoting an overcapacity of steel production for export and consequent flooding of the American market and the United States with cheap steel.

The Chinese no doubt listened politely to the words but did not anticipate action. They followed a strategy of export price advantage for driving American-owned and operated steel out of business.

Action was taken last month by President Donald Trump. And yet nothing in the customary reaction against Trump recalled that President George W. Bush declared sanctions against Chinese Steel export dumping over 10 years ago, which lasted 18 months, and is credited for an American steel innovation-led comeback.

National security requires American made high-quality steel not only for defense and defense-industrial capability, but also for the complex steel in San Juan and Permian natural gas and steel pipelines.

What is needed is metallurgy for manufacturing and equipment for continuous casting, cooling, rolling and welding. There is only one plant left in the United States that has some capacity for high strength pipeline steel (API X70 and X80).

The oil and gas industry in the San Juan Basin should not depend on imports from a non-continental foreign source as a matter of national security.
China already dominates the American market (oil and gas) for steel valves. There is vulnerability if China follows its rare earth history.

First, it lowered prices via exports. Second, with this weapon, American rare earth domestic production failed and China bought the technology and transferred it to China. Third, China raises prices for American users of rare earths.

The North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations continue with more confidence that fuels (natural gas) will be exempt from negative outcomes. The exemption for Canada and Mexico from steel and aluminum tariffs based on a no-threat-to-national-security finding and continental sources, suggests understanding that trade in fuels will not be restricted.

Daniel Fine is the associate director of New Mexico Tech’s Center for Energy Policy and the State of New Mexico Natural Gas Export Coordinator. The opinions expressed are his own.

For a week in March, Houston was the site of a world assembly of oil producers engaged in an OPEC-Russia dialogue with American shale or light tight oil producers on supply and — indirectly — price.

OPEC and Saudi Arabia pitched a market information offensive.

Put simply, American oil producers should cut-back or stabilize output in a “family” arrangement to avoid an expansion of supply that threatens the price of world oil.

But there is no U.S. Oil Company (government owned) in America, unlike all members plus Russia which are state companies. Russia is a mix. OPEC members are a price-setting cartel. So, a restaurant in Houston was selected as the site for an elite dinner of OPEC and American shale oil operators.

Platitudes and generalizations dominated the American-initiated conversation, because anything more would be in violation of U.S. anti-trust laws.

Saudi Arabia, consistent with its effort to sell shares in itself in an Initial Public Offering (forthcoming), emphasized there was enough future world demand to satisfy the Americans as well as OPEC.

This was 1.5 percent growth per year for the next decade or two.  Almost silence, however, on Saudi Aramco’s capacity expansion of another l.5 million barrels per day as “spare capacity.”

Does the future demand short term or long term offer support for an unspeakable and unenforceable supply agreement that involves enough for all? Will American shale producers in the Permian exclude themselves from capturing any growth of demand?

Devon, no longer in the San Juan Basin, but dominant in Oklahoma, is going for double-digit production increases yearly and is increasing its dividend to shareholders who might otherwise be attracted to the idea of drilling and completing less to prop up the price per barrel.

The Houston dinner failed, as a half a dozen companies did not show up in compliance with legal restrictions. It failed to persuade the America shale industry to act with OPEC’s oil supply and price management as a “family” and not as a law-breaking cartel.

Flashback to 2016: Iranian oil likely to push prices lower

Less than a week later, Iran signaled that it would not renew the production cut that has removed 1.8 million OPEC barrels of oil from the world and increased prices.
Saudi Arabia was projecting a forecast that a tight market for oil is ahead this year or next as oil projects will not replace wells while demand is strong.

Few were sold on this forecast since shale oil well completions are effectively responsive to price signals with well completions compared to conventional replacement-based on prior oil field investment.

Oil traders are largely unconvinced or agnostic listening in to the Houston contradictions. Most will watch Iran in late May as a sell signal in the making of algorithms.

The Trump Administration on steel tariffs takes the Obama Administration’s failure to do so as a starting point. It was Secretary of the Treasury Lew under Obama who made the case for tariffs during his many visits to Beijing. He would accuse China of promoting an overcapacity of steel production for export and consequent flooding of the American market and the United States with cheap steel.

The Chinese no doubt listened politely to the words but did not anticipate action. They followed a strategy of export price advantage for driving American-owned and operated steel out of business.

Action was taken last month by President Donald Trump. And yet nothing in the customary reaction against Trump recalled that President George W. Bush declared sanctions against Chinese Steel export dumping over 10 years ago, which lasted 18 months, and is credited for an American steel innovation-led comeback.

National security requires American made high-quality steel not only for defense and defense-industrial capability, but also for the complex steel in San Juan and Permian natural gas and steel pipelines.

What is needed is metallurgy for manufacturing and equipment for continuous casting, cooling, rolling and welding. There is only one plant left in the United States that has some capacity for high strength pipeline steel (API X70 and X80).

The oil and gas industry in the San Juan Basin should not depend on imports from a non-continental foreign source as a matter of national security.
China already dominates the American market (oil and gas) for steel valves. There is vulnerability if China follows its rare earth history.

First, it lowered prices via exports. Second, with this weapon, American rare earth domestic production failed and China bought the technology and transferred it to China. Third, China raises prices for American users of rare earths.

The North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations continue with more confidence that fuels (natural gas) will be exempt from negative outcomes. The exemption for Canada and Mexico from steel and aluminum tariffs based on a no-threat-to-national-security finding and continental sources, suggests understanding that trade in fuels will not be restricted.”

Daniel Fine is the associate director of New Mexico Tech’s Center for Energy Policy and the State of New Mexico Natural Gas Export Coordinator. The opinions expressed are his own.

Dr. Daniel Fine: Trump’s approach to oil and gas: a new course in the San Juan Basin


 

The full article is here-> http://www.daily-times.com/story/money/industries/oil-gas/2017/10/30/fine-trump-new-approach-oil-and-gas-in-san-juan-basin/777153001/

It has been 70 years since a President of the United States has considered domestic oil and gas as a “power” in world affairs. With Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke charting a new course, the Trump Administration is considering a transfer of Federal Land management with natural resources to the Western States.
Coupled with Zinke’s proclamation of American energy world domination, a revolution on how to think about oil and gas in the San Juan Basin is taking place.
The Four Corners BLM management could move across Farmington to the New Mexico state office.  The Bureau of Land Management’s Washington control might move to Denver.
It is more than speeding up Applications for Petroleum Drilling (APD): it is who decides and implements Trump-Zinke. How is San Juan natural gas to advance American oil and gas first in a redesign of domestic resources on a world stage?
Farmington and Carlsbad would control, as New Mexico State offices of oil and gas, new rules with national and global meaning. The San Juan Basin future would have natural gas reserves managed for strategic and economic purposes in the Baltic and Black Seas.  Management would be drawn from New Mexico.
What is the cost for this historic transfer of power from Washington or a non-oil and gas Potomac?
The State of New Mexico must legislate expansion budgets to overcome the limitations of Santa Fe staff in numbers and expertise. Under State Oil and Gas Law, inspectors are needed to inspect wells (62,000).
Inspection of Federal oil and gas wells (transfer from Washington BLM) requires a budgetary alignment with the strategy and vision of Secretary Zinke.
There is a return to the economic development history of America. San Juan Basin natural gas does not depend on localized manufacturing alternatives into natural gas in the Four Corners.  Pipelines take care of markets.  The expansion to ultimate economic recovery is in the new policy of this Administration.
I was the lunch keynote speaker at the Jicarilla Apache Energy Conference in Dulce.  Indian nation natural gas must not be outside American oil and gas first. Investment and production is now a different opportunity. Deals with conventional oil and gas companies were part of the excitement.
Readers of this column in the Energy Magazine have followed a forecast made 11 months ago, in which I have seen warning signs of oversupply of world oil in 2019.
The Initial Public Offering (IPO) shares in Saudi Aramco is doubtful.  China or BP could buy non-controlling blocks of shares as an alternative. If this IPO fails, Saudi Aramco will have little reason to throttle OPEC production downward.
This would open the way for a trend-line similar to 2014. Saudi Arabia is in the first phase of instability.  What happens to Mohammed bin Salmon, the Crown Prince, lies in Qatar, and with the Kurds.
It is important to recognize that the IPO process called for the right of women to obtain driving permits. Underwriters were on notice that such discrimination would distract buyers of Saudi Aramco shares.
Hilcorp’s female staff at Dulce added that they (women in Saudi Arabia) must be 30 years of age and will not be able to drive at night.

Join now for as low as
$9.99 / YR.

Daniel Fine is the associate director of New Mexico

Hedging threat and Venezuela Oil By Dr. Daniel Fine


The full article is here-> http://www.daily-times.com/story/money/industries/oil-gas/2017/08/27/hedging-threat-and-venezuela-oil/580510001/

“How can Saudi Arabia and OPEC behind them strike a second blow against shale oil producers in the Southwest? The first was the 2014-2017 price and market share war in which they raised production to put the higher cost Americans out of business.
This was partially abandoned at Algiers in a reversal to opt for a higher price for crude oil from $26 to the high $40 range. The marketing tool is lowering their production by 1,800,000 barrels per day.

The second blow is process.

The Saudi Arabian Oil Ministry and its state company, Saudi Aramco, negotiated in London with Glencore (world’s largest trading combined with mining), banks and hedge funds to see if they could reduce the liquidity necessary for American oil and gas shale producers to hedge forward to obtain a higher price.

Without access at only financial transactions costs to the “strip” or the forward price of oil at at least 10 percent higher than current prices “spot,” WPX and all the Permian-Delaware significant producers would not have survived the recent downturn in their current form.

If there is no difference between the price oil today and September 2018,  which is called the “contango,” this would be a problem of liquidity – no entity taking the other side against the oil and gas producer on a contract.  No cash would be bet against the oil and gas producer who sells forward one year. One side, for example, sells 70 percent of 2018 oil production at June 2018 prices in the present while the other side buys or covers, as the counterpart, the contract.

Saudi Arabia correctly followed data which demonstrated that despite the decline in the price of oil from $100 in 2014 to a low of $26 per barrel, oil producers hedged against the fall and largely survived.  Without hedging the producers would have negative cash flows and serious problems of debt to keep going.”

Oil and the Saudi Arabia threat by Dr. Daniel Fine


Dr. Daniel Fine, New Mexico Center for Energy Policy

The article by Dr. Daniel Fine is here-> http://www.daily-times.com/story/money/industries/oil-gas/2017/07/30/oil-and-saudi-arabia-threat/499741001/

There is instability in the leading oil producer within OPEC and the lowest cost producer in the World. Nothing like this has happened in Saudi Arabia since the middle of the last century.

It is only a matter of the short term before the price of world oil is affected. And its Implications will reach the Four Corners and New Mexico no matter what Congress or The White House does.

First, the instability begins from a dynastic change with an ailing and aging King and a young crown prince ousting his cousin as the successor to the throne as King of Saudi Arabia.  This divides the rulers into two factions:   the traditionalists or old guard (Ali Al-Naimi) against the modernists and a take-over generation.  Second, the oil ministry and Saudi Aramco (the Government-owned and monopoly oil company) is now controlled by the take- over generation.

No doubt President Trump was influential in the recent diplomatic visit to the Kingdom. He gave support to the take-over faction with closer ties to the take-overs through Mohammed bin Salman, now the heir to the throne. Billions in American service company projects with Saudi Arabian petroleum expansion were announced. President Trump concluded with a strategy and tactic of eliminating radical  Islam in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.  He said it must be attacked at the roots of the social and political order.

Qatar was next.  It has been isolated and diminished by the take-over generation adding more resentment among the traditionalists in Saudi Arabia.  While it is the largest producer and exporter of liquid natural gas in the world, it also produces as much as 80 percent of the oil output of the Permian Basin. The big picture is struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia to dominate the region or Islamic Middle East.

It was the take-over generation that switched Saudi Arabia oil strategy from an anti-American shale and sand price and market share war against West Texas Intermediate oil to a reduction of output in OPEC. This was the decision of Algiers to raise prices in anticipation of a Saudi Aramco initial public offering of shares next year.

Share prices would be sold at higher prices with this cutback of OPEC production.

The Crown Prince moved to restore subsidies and salaries, based on oil revenue, which were reduced or eliminated as the oil price fell because of market share strategy to lower oil prices to shut down or slow American shale competition from 2014 to late last year. Prices moved upward as OPEC withheld some 1.8 barrels from the World Market.  But the commodity market has displayed skepticism after an initial rally that not enough supply has been pushed back to “balance supply and demand” this year.

Oil and the emergence of Saudi Arabian instability should converge in a struggle between the traditionalists or old guard over the control of the Ministry of Oil and indirectly Saudi Aramco as a pre-public company. The new crown prince now in control of the country must not fail as head of the take-over generation. The price of oil must increase another 50 percent to $65 per barrel before the  Saudi Aramco sale of its stock worldwide – minimum 5 percent and maximum 10 percent.

If this fails or the sale does not meet expectations, the traditionalist  or Old Guard will combine an attack on modernism with a return of Saudi Arabia as the residual or swing world supplier of oil with price setting supply actions of higher output for lower prices or lower output for higher prices.

The outcome will impact the future of American exporters of oil. The  take-over modernist will accommodate a “balance” which includes a market for Permian exports.  The Old Guard will not.  A Second Downturn in 2019, forecast in this column seven months ago, will take place with either outcome, but with mitigation from the take-over generation. President Trump will have lost the Crown Prince and the modernists in the coalition to root out radical Islam as he readies for 2020.

Shale oil producers in the Southwest and North Dakota would be losers, if the Trump strategy is stalled or fails because a traditionalist recovery of civil and oil power in Saudi Arabia. This would occur as Saudi Arabia and OPEC could resort to the market share flood of the world market as in 2014.

As never before, President Trump’s 2020 campaign would then strike a new campaign strategy toward a North American oil and gas market with prices determined as continentalist and world oceans imports of oil limited.

The San Juan Basin natural gas future increasingly depends on new markets in Mexico and short-term advantages if Qatar’s half of world’s supply of LNG is isolated or neutered.

Watch Energy Expert Dr. Daniel Fine As He Discusses President Trump’s New Policy Of “Energy Dominance”


(more…)

How OPEC tried, but failed, to kill the Bakken By Patrick C. Miller | July 18, 2017


The full article is here-> http://www.northamericanshalemagazine.com/articles/2019/how-opec-tried-but-failed-to-kill-the-bakken

When OPEC ramped up its production in 2014 to drive down world oil prices, it was engaged in a strategy to put North Dakota’s Bakken shale play out of business, according to Daniel Fine, Ph.D., associate director of the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy.

“The downturn was a flush of flat-out production, and the target was the Bakken,” he said. “The Saudis understand the Bakken. They read everything. The most important consultants to OPEC are based in Houston—they’re Americans.”

Fine, a former MIT professor who’s also the energy policy project leader for the New Mexico State Department of Energy Minerals and Natural Resources, spoke during the opening day of the Bakken Conference & Expo July 17-19 in Bismarck, North Dakota.

He was jointed on the panel by John Yates, president and founder of Abo Empire, to discuss New Mexico’s San Juan and Delaware basins. While Yates covered the economic impact of the basins on New Mexico, Fine explained why their futures are headed in opposite directions, as well as OPEC’s impact on world oil prices.

Fine noted that at one time, the San Juan Basin was No. 2 in U.S. gas production. In recent days, low gas prices have resulted in Conoco, Chevron and WPX announcing plans to sell their interests in the basin. This year, for the first time, the Delaware Basin in southern New Mexico will eclipse the San Juan Basin in gas production.

“What is the future of the San Juan Basin? The future is that in the last 60 to 70 years, only about half of the gas has been recovered, leaving 32 trillion cubic feet of gas,” Fine said.

Turning to the subject of world oil prices, Fine discussed his experience of studying OPEC since the 1970s and what he’s learned from it. For example, in 2014 when OPEC increased its production specifically to target the Bakken and other U.S. shale plays, Fine forecast that prices would fall to $28 to $23 a barrel while others expected them to rebound to $100 a barrel.

“The Saudi mind is not the Bakken,” he said. “The operators here go for very short-term results. Their balance sheet is quarter-to-quarter. Saudi Aramco and the OPEC producers are taught to think in five-year ranges. So I picked the five-year range in 2000 to 2003 and said this might be it. It was $23 to $28.”

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