Brent oil hits United States dollars 80 for first time since late 2014

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Oil markets are now dealing with a unique set of circumstances: unplanned supply outages, OPEC manipulation, geopolitical uncertainty, limited spare capacity, rising demand, and speculative buying.

But physical markets for oil shipments tell a different story.

To try and estimate what these sanctions might mean for the global oil market, we can look to what happened to Iran's production when the country was previously under sanctions.

Currently, OPEC and non-OPEC producers have restricted themselves to 32.5 million bpd. After the May 2017 meeting in Vienna, when OPEC+ extended its pact by nine months, the markets sold off sharply.

Members of OPEC, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, said they have enough capacity to fill in any supply gap if renewed sanctions curtail Iran's exports.

However analysts at Goldman Sachs said that even with such a slowdown, and rising U.S. shale production, supply problems would remain - pointing to production losses in Iran as well as Venezuela and Angola.

Saudi pledges to maintain stability in the oil markets should be taken with a pinch of salt.

"You have the threat that a high enough price will start to activate the 7,700 drilled but uncompleted wells in the Lower 48 states", said Walter Zimmerman, chief technical analyst at ICAP TA.

"Is there any reason not to be bullish?"

The SP11 agreement was signed last July, making Total the first major Western energy company to invest in the Islamic Republic since sanctions were lifted in 2016.

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This week's inventory cycle has been a head-scratcher for participants in the energy markets. As Reuters reported last week, Russian Federation is suddenly on track to run a budget surplus this year for the first time since 2011 - mostly attributed to a 65 per cent rise in the price of crude, which accounts for 40 per cent of the nation's budget revenues.

Oil futures prices have soared past three-year highs, OPEC's deal has cut millions of barrels of inventory worldwide and investors are betting in record numbers that prices could rocket past $80 and even hit $90 a barrel this year.

"Looking into the next 18 months, we expect global oil supply and demand balances to tighten, driven by the ongoing collapse in Venezuelan output", the report said. However, capital expenditures (capex) rose by only 2% year/year (y/y), and were down by about 42% from 2014 levels. They have equally said they do not see any problem with a $100/barrel oil price and so are unlikely to raise their own production to ease the pain for everyone else until prices are well into triple digits. "The price is pretty good and we're not seeing any growth outside the USA", said the investor.

The oil price has climbed above $80 a barrel for the first time in three-and-a-half years amid simmering global tensions over Iran.

Is $100-$3.60 per gallon gasoline in the USA -or higher possible? There is one big difference now, of course-shale's massive growth.

USA crude inventories C-STK-T-EIA dropped by 1.4 million barrels in the week to May 11, to 432.34 million barrels.

The IEA's sentiment was driving crude oil prices lower.

Prices are also rising on expectations that Iranian output could be sorely affected by Trump's decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) last week.

Venezuela's situation grows increasingly worrying and the expected drop in production from Iran means that prices are expected to reach four-year highs once again.

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