Crude oil dynamics are changing as rig counts rise, oil discoveries fall and OPEC compliance to production cuts are at an all-time high. Despite short-term worries about a U.S. glut, global oil inventories are on a path to a major tightening scenario and shale oil production alone will not change that.
Oil products are weak as demand fears are weighing down the market, awaiting a time when supply is at historically high levels. Gas demand is at a six-year low as bad weather in California has given a hit to demand and warm temperatures elsewhere in the country is reducing heating oil demand. This comes as refining margins for big oil companies are reducing the positive impact from OPEC inspired oil price increases.
Oil prices were steady on Monday, but news of another increase in U.S. drilling activity spread concern over rising output just as many of the world's oil producers are trying to comply with a deal to pump less in an attempt to prop up prices.
Crude oil prices are trying to figure out the potential risk to the market because of the fallout from President Donald Trump’s travel ban and another rise in the U.S. oil rig count. This comes as the trade puts on it biggest net long oil position in history as OPEC production cuts are exceeding market expectations.
Crude oil prices are probably already high enough to spark a rebound in shale production. The IEA says that in the third quarter of 2016, the U.S. shale industry became cash flow neutral for the first time ever. That isn’t a typo. For years, the drilling boom was done with a lot of debt, and the revenues earned from steadily higher levels of output were not enough to cover the cost of drilling, even when oil prices traded above $100 per barrel in the go-go drilling days between 2011 and 2014.
Reverberations from the oil price crash continue as more bankruptcies and increased geo-political tensions are causing a seismic shift in the long term outlook for energy production. With mounting pressure on oil-producing countries leading to civil unrest and more bankruptcies of highly leveraged oil companies, the bottom of the commodity cycle is well underway. The dominoes are falling and prices are rising.