Crude oil (NYMEX:CLN14) prices are acting heavy led lower by Brent (NYMEX:SCN14) as supply and the lack of supply disruptions in Iraq and a bit of demand destruction due to Hurricane Arthur is pressuring the complex. The Ukraine and Russia are still talking and Libya is still promising to lift its force majeure on two oil ports handed over by rebels adding more oil to a well-supplied market. Threats to supply are easing and so are prices.
Dow Jones reports that Brent crude-oil prices fell again Monday after Libya paved the way for the return of sizable exports. Mohammad el-Harari, a spokesman for the state-owned National Oil Co., said force majeure had been lifted from the two oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf--which account for nearly half of the country's oil exports. The move comes after rebels who had occupied them since late July 2013 reached an agreement with the government. A force majeure clause protects oil exporters against legal action in case of disruption, but also prohibits loadings from the affected terminal. Some exports had continued in the past 12 months from smaller loading points, notably offshore production sites. But Es Sider and Ras Lanuf normally ship 560,000 barrels a day together, nearly half of the country's export capacity of 1.3 million barrels a day.
The U.S. will remain the world's biggest oil producer this year after overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia as extraction of energy from shale rock spurs the nation's economic recovery, Bank of America Corp. said. Bloomberg News is reporting that U.S. production of crude oil, along with liquids separated from natural gas, surpassed all other countries this year with daily output exceeding 11 million barrels in the first quarter. The country became the world's largest natural gas (NYMEX:NGN14) producer in 2010. The International Energy Agency said in June that the U.S. was the biggest producer of oil and natural gas liquids.
"The U.S. increase in supply is a very meaningful chunk of oil," Francisco Blanch, the bank's head of commodities research, said by phone from New York. "The shale boom is playing a key role in the U.S. recovery. If the U.S. didn't have this energy supply, prices at the pump would be completely unaffordable."
Oil extraction is soaring at shale formations in Texas and North Dakota as companies split rocks using high-pressure liquid, a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The surge in supply combined with restrictions on exporting crude is curbing the price of West Texas Intermediate, America's oil benchmark. The U.S., the world's largest oil consumer, still imported an average of 7.5 million barrels a day of crude in April, according to the Department of Energy's statistical arm.
Bloomberg says that U.S. crude oil output will surge to 13.1 million barrels a day in 2019 and plateau thereafter, according to the IEA, a Paris-based adviser to 29 nations. The country will lose its top-producer ranking at the start of the 2030s, the agency said in its World Energy Outlook in November. "It's very likely the U.S. stays as No. 1 producer for the rest of the year" as output is set to increase in the second half, Blanch said. Production growth outside the U.S. has been lower than the bank anticipated, keeping global oil prices high, he said.
"The shale production story is bigger than Iraqi production, but it hasn't made the impact on prices you would expect," said Blanch. "Typically such a large energy supply growth should bring prices lower, but in fact we're not seeing that because the whole geopolitical situation outside the U.S. is dreadful." A Bloomberg must read.
The LA Times reports that Egyptian government trimmed its energy subsidies Saturday, causing fuel (NYMEX:RBN14) prices to soar and motorists to stew. The cabinet's cuts increased prices Saturday for gas and diesel, in some cases by almost 70%. The action was part of a package of austerity measures taken by President Abdel Fattah Sisi's administration to abolish energy subsidies that cost Egypt around $24 billion annually. Although the subsidy cut was anticipated, many were left disillusioned by the unprecedented hike--with private transportation drivers the first to be hit hard.