Cuts, Confusion and Fancy Math

20 MBPD production cuts
ExxonMobile sells $9.5 billion in corporate bonds
The Energy Report

The Energy Report


The Phil Flynn Energy Report 

Oil Cut and Run

Many people expected that oil prices would spike higher after OPEC+ cut global oil production by a record amount. Yet lingering concerns about oil demand still devastated from Covid-19, and confusion about the actual size of the cut, kept oil markets in a state of fluctuation. OPEC reported that the cut was going to be 9.7 million barrels of oil a day less than expected. Yet, President Trump tweeted that "Having been involved in the negotiations, to put it mildly, the number that OPEC+ is looking to cut is 20 million barrels a day, not the 10 million that is generally being reported. If anything near this happens, and the world gets back to business from the Covid-19. "

Yet comments from President Trump and later confirmed by the Saudi Energy minster the cut is going to be more like 20 million barrels a day gave the market a bit of a rally after faltering in early trading. Yet whatever the number, the big question is whether the cut, whatever the size, will be enough to stop global oil storage from filling up. While global oil demand is at a standstill right now, data coming out of Asia and reports that some countries in Europe are making plans to reopen their economies, which should give oil support and a bottom even. Still, market action may be less exciting and a bit choppy.

Marketwatch reported that "China's exports and imports in March dropped at a slower rate than forecast. Chinese exports decreased 6.6% in March from a year earlier, after falling 17.2% over January and February, while Chinese imports fell 0.9% over the previous year, compared with a 4.0% decline in the first two months of the year. That gives us hope that oil demand in China will rise. In China, crude oil imports rose 12 percent in March from a year earlier.

Yet short-term confusion about the cut is still weighing on markets. OPEC's official announcement read that the cartel would reduce their overall crude oil production by 9.7 million barrels a day (MBPD), starting on May 1, 2020, for an initial period of two months that concludes on June 30, 2020. Then after that, the total adjustment agreed will be 7.7 MBPD. It will be followed by a 5.8 MBPD adjustment for a period of 16 months, from January 1, 2021, to April 30, 2022. The baseline for the calculation of the changes in the oil production of October 2018, except for the Saudi Arabia and Russia, both with the same baseline level of 11.0 MBPD. The agreement will be valid until April 30, 2022; however, the extension of this agreement will be reviewed during December 2021.

Yet to get to 20, you have to use fancy math. Not only is the President counting on significant production cuts from  non-OPEC countries like Mexico, Norway and Oman, to hit that level but natural production reductions from the drop in rig counts in the U.S.  U.S. shale oil production will have its production drop by a record amount. The EIA said that crude-oil production from 7 major U.S. shale plays is forecast to decline by 183,000 barrels a day in May to 8.526 MBPD a day.  To round it out, purchases for global oil reserves seem to count as production reductions.

Energy Intelligence reports that "Saudi Arabia had no intention "to create any type of damage" to the U.S. shale oil industry, the Kingdom's Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said in a phone call with reporters. While Saudi Arabia has pushed for a cut, Prince Abdulaziz emphasized that the policy wasn’t aimed at hurting the U.S. shale oil industry, which he predicted would recover in the long run. "My belief is that once this market stabilizes, and given the nature of shale oil and the shale industry, that they will be able to recover as the market recovers … I have no single doubt in the mind that in the future, they will rise again from the ashes and thrive and prosper," Energy Intelligence quoted Prince Abdulaziz as saying. That makes me feel better. Ok maybe it doesn’t not make me feel better

Marketwatch is reporting that "ExxonMobil Corp., undeterred by sinking oil prices, borrowed another $9.5 billion in the U.S. corporate bond market on Monday, adding to the rush of companies building up a war chest of cash amid the coronavirus pandemic. The oil and gas giant sold a 5-part package of bonds, with the shortest parcel due April 2023 fetching a yield of 1.571%, while its 30-year slug of bonds cleared at a yield of 3.452%, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal. Exxon XOM, -0.85% in mid-March was among a slew of major corporations that we're able to pry open the U.S. bond market as the pandemic bore down on American shores, paying investors a higher 3.482% yield on a 10-year block of bonds."

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About the Author

Senior energy analyst at The PRICE Futures Group and a Fox Business Network contributor.