The possibility of some type of OPEC summit is back in play.
Venezuela reportedly has put together a gang of six OPEC and non-OPEC members that will supposedly meet to try to cut production. While the group does include major oil producers like Russia and Iran, the problem is that it will not include Saudi Arabia. Many credited this story with the incredible rise in oil despite a massive increase in crude oil supply, but the real reason oil rallied was a weaker dollar and the realization that the pounding oil companies are taking will eventually cause a drop in global oil output. An OPEC cut would be icing on the cake.
Oil was already rallying yesterday as the market was starting to realize that, despite the current glut, massive capital spending cuts and questionable global spare capacity may cause a dramatic drop in global output. This could lead to big draw downs from oil inventories in the near future.
Venezuela's oil minister Eulogio del Pino added to the bullish mood when he said he has a deal for OPEC producers, including Iran, Iraq, Algeria and Nigeria, to meet with non-members, Russia and Oman, to talk about oil prices. Of course, talk is cheap, but the inclusion of Russia and Iran could still be significant because to get any type of a production reduction put in place, they will need those two counties on the same page.
There have been some reports that Russia and Iran may actually work together to start a production war on a new front—natural gas. The FT reported that the two countries are thinking about using a similar strategy that Saudi Arabia used on the global crude oil market in natural gas. They will flood the market and try to keep or steal market share. It will also target the burgeoning U.S. liquefied natural gas export market. A new cartel for natural gas is being born in the ashes of the oil price crash.
Crude oil also got support from a falling dollar. As I said, the oil drop in the beginning of the year was due in part to fear. That fear was about China falling apart economically and a Federal Reserve that seemed to be adding to emerging market pain by raising interest rates. There was also the flight to bonds and the U.S dollar as a safe haven, which added to the hit on crude oil.
Crashing prices have consequences that the Fed can’t ignore. Now it appears from Fed speak and market expectations that rates may not rise any time soon. That has give the dollar a break and oil a boost.
The pain in the oil patch and historic cap x cuts is making me feel for all of the barrels of oil that won’t be produced. The latest news comes from Shell and Stat Oil that is cutting cap x, jobs and of course oil output over time. Shell profits fell by 58% as they announced 10,000 job cuts. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Reuters reported that Stat Oil posted adjusted earnings of 15.2 billion Norwegian crowns ($1.78 billion) ahead of the 13.9 billion crowns, but down 44% from last year.
The barrels of oil that are not going to be produced in the future are overshadowing the oil in inventory—a classic script to the beginning of the end of the oil bust cycle. While the market still faces economic risk and volatility, the depressed prices for oil should be a great time to look long term.