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

Posts tagged ‘West Texas’

Fine: No such thing as ‘free trade’ with OPEC as a cartel


 

The article by Dr. Daniel Fine can be found here @ FARMINGTON DAILY TIMES/USA TODAY->  https://www.daily-times.com/story/money/industries/oil-gas/2018/05/27/if-free-traders-saddle-up-higher-oil-prices-and-opec-run-cover/615999002/

Among some speakers at the 2018 Four Corners Oil and Gas Conference last month in Farmington there were evasive positions on the future of OPEC. Also, previous online or media positions of “free trade” were muted to be popular with the oil, gas and equipment operators who made up those in attendance.

There is no “free trade” with OPEC as a cartel, either with assigned member production quotas or with the current maximization of revenue strategy led by Saudi Arabia. If you hear free traders saddling up with current higher prices and OPEC, run for cover.

On Thanksgiving 2014, OPEC and Saudi Arabia refused to reduce oil production volume and entered a market share offensive against non-OPEC high cost oil producers in shale and tight sands.

This was a glut, or oversupply, of world oil but it was a chance to put San Juan oil just then — with rising production in the Gallup Sand — out of business. This was only reversed through the Algiers Meeting and agreement among OPEC members by cartel anti-free trade supply and demand manipulation.

President Trump captured this with his position that something was “artificial” about the price and supply of OPEC oil. Internal changes in the ruling House of Saudi Arabia, coupled with its power over OPEC, raised the price of world oil at least temporarily within the historic cycle of the industry.

Some Republicans oppose Trump and published or spoke against his opposition to OPEC. which is also connected to higher oil prices for consumers who might be voters. OPEC members had no problem with a hypocritical response to let the market work. Not only is there no free market making oil prices, but oil and gas operators do not make markets any longer. Commodity traders have replaced them since the 1980s.

Only three years ago, when OPEC/Saudi Arabia had deviated from its role of supporting the world price of oil through supply volume strategy, Harold Hamm of Continental Resources called for smashing OPEC to protect independent and non-super major producers in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and North Dakota.

At the Expo, this writer traced current OPEC oil price support to the fall of Venezuela as a producer.

Less Venezuela barrels in OPEC production protects other members, and now, Russia, from real cutbacks. Among American conservatives who believe there are free markets for oil, very little understanding of world petroleum economics and history exists.

What happens to OPEC supply and demand management when Saudi Aramco floats its shares on stock markets and reached its target of an intake of 100 billion dollars? Are New Mexico and Southwest producers preparing planning price scenarios similar to world producers for oil prices next year or in 2020? What would Washington do in a second downturn with the oil prices “awry” again?

In a free trade world, nothing.

On natural gas prices that afternoon, there was a sense of how low the San Juan discount to Cushing could go and adaptation in taking some producing gas wells out of production.

Late that afternoon, after New Mexico Secretary of Energy Ken McQueen spoke of his work on the Governor’s Initiative of cost-cutting via state regulatory access and permitting on Federal land, I concluded that the San Juan Basin still has too much natural gas too fail.

And what happened to the big banks 10 years ago?

And General Motors?

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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Dr. Daniel Fine: Oil speculation and natural gas/LNG in New England and Russia


 

Link to the article American oil production is poised to reach upward to 11 million barrels of oil per day if the price of West Texas Crude reaches $75 a barrel.

Saudi Arabia or Saudi Aramco believes it will, and commodity speculators are following. It is similar to 2008 in June when Goldman Sachs forecast $250 per barrel as the price approached $150.

What events are running through computer modelling to trigger speculative buying? First, the effort of Saudi Arabia to sell shares in Saudi Aramco to the world – at least 5 percent.

The price of oil is the key for the price per share at an initial public offering. It must be high enough to overcome doubts about the company in terms of ultimate economic value and size of its reserves as well as potential legal action based on the 9/11 Saudi Arabian operatives in the destruction of the World Trade Centers and the death of nearly 3,000 and related family injuries.

This event can no longer deprive the United States of physical barrels resulting in shortage of supply. Prices outside of trading pits or online bids and asks are now determined by West Texas Intermediate, which reflects self-sufficiency against non-North American sourced oil. The Persian Gulf against the Permian Basin?

 Demand for oil in producer estimates, such as, Saudi Aramco or total range between 1.2 percent and less than 1.0 percent growth per year. Supply of oil from American unconventional sources is increasing, with high prices at 8 percent.

The two year low of downturn prices did not create conditions for a supply crunch. Super-giant oil fields are few and far between even at higher prices. Supply shortage talk on the social and commercial media is promoted by Saudi Arabian interest in higher oil prices to support its potential IPO share price. Offshore Norway has applied shale recovery technology from New Mexico, Texas and North Dakota and can be profitable at $35 per barrel against $80 breakeven in 2013.

Third, reaction to OPEC-Russia announcements of production reductions – oil off the world market — are not likely signals for commodity traders to buy. How much oil can OPEC members and Russia take off the market? How long can they lower production in terms of fiscal requirements?

One last event in production denial would be the imposition of sanctions against Iranian oil exports, which would follow the decision to void the nuclear weapons treaty by President Trump.  The North American market for Iranian is almost non-existent.

As before, this Energy Magazine column warns of a downturn next year. How bad? If the buzz around the Permian is that its “health” no longer depends on the price of oil has been taken seriously, the downturn will be serious.

Exxon-Mobil/XTO is preparing to enter the world market of LNG (liquid natural gas) with a plant in Louisiana.  Its natural gas feedstock would be from its Delaware Basin production (New Mexico’s Permian).

The scale and size of its LNG facility will place American production and export as a world leader next to Qatar, which is reacting to Saudi Arabian hostility by expanding investment in American oil and gas.

Turning to Europe, the opportunity of geopolitical deployment of American gas to Europe to offset Russian supply promoted by the State Departments of Bush through Obama and now of Trump has been set back.

Germany has approved the Russian natural gas pipeline under the North Sea despite efforts to isolate Russia because of the Crimea annexation.

This means ongoing European natural gas dependence on Russia without transit pipelines through the Ukraine.  And indirectly it keeps demand and prices for San Juan natural gas lower.

As long as Marcellus natural gas is semi-stranded by New England’s opposition to building pipelines for its markets, based on environmentalist politics, American natural gas is unable to replace residential reliance on heating oil imported from high-risk Venezuela.

Russian LNG appeared in Boston harbor during the worst of a New England winter as an alternative to low- cost pipeline gas from Pennsylvania. This partially keeps San Juan Basin gas at low prices.

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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