Phil Flynn is writer of The Energy Report, a daily market commentary discussing oil, the Middle East, American government, economics, and their effects on the world's energies markets, as well as other commodity markets. Contact Mr. Flynn at (888) 264-5665
Does anybody go deeper than the headlines these days? Oil prices sold off Friday in part because the headline jobs number disappointed, yet if you look at every other part of the report you realize that the headline number of just 20,000 jobs was a disappointment but was probably a one-off.
Yet computer traders that go off headlines caused a run off in oil and gas prices while the U.S. jobless rate fell to 3.8 percent, the lowest level in 50 years, and wages in the U.S. jumped by 3.4 percent from a year earlier, the biggest year-over-year increase in 10 years. That is by the way the perfect combination for gasoline demand rising ahead of the summer driving season. Besides, the headline non-farm payroll number was obviously impacted by the government shutdown and wicked winter weather.
You also have news out of OPEC that not only is OPEC over complying to cuts, the Saudis today are signaling further cuts in April. Reuters reports that Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih said on Sunday that China and the U.S. would lead healthy global demand for oil this year, but that it would be too early to change OPEC+ output policy at the group’s next meeting in April. Falih pointed out that Chinese oil demand was breaking records month after month and the talk of a slowdown in global demand has yet to materialize.
You also have a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that U.S. shale production in 2018 has grown faster than it did during the boom years of 2011 to 2014, yet the U.S oil rig count fell by nine rigs last week continuing a trend of a pullback by U.S. shale producers. The U.S. last year surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of crude oil, with output currently hovering around 12 million barrels a day. The IEA also says that the U.S. is on track to become a net petroleum exporter by 2021 and will soon after surpass Russia and rival Saudi Arabia, currently the world’s largest oil exporter. “The second wave of the U.S. shale revolution is coming,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “This will shake up international oil and gas trade flows, with profound implications for the geopolitics of energy.”
The IEA says that OPEC’s production capacity is expected to fall by around 400,000 barrels a day in the run up to 2024, in part as a result of supply outages in Iran and Venezuela, the agency said. The oil industries of both countries are under U.S. sanctions. The IEA also warns that a ‘Disorderly Brexit’ would hurt oil demand.
On balance, at least for the next couple of months, we are very bullish. The seasonal trend is in our favor and so is OPEC with their deep production cuts. Talk of a global slowdown is overplayed right now and global oil demand is unmoved. In fact, it is rising and will rise more in the coming months.
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