OPEC

Oil markets enter the endgame as car companies rush to electrify

Almost every day now sees a car company rushing to announce its plans to boost Electric Vehicle (EV) output. And key OPEC members – such as the UAE – are starting to recognise they have only a few years left to sell their oil, before the market disappears. Last May, the influential International Energy Agency

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Oil markets, OPEC, enter the endgame for the Age of Oil

2 major events shocked oil markets last week. They marked the start of (a) the endgame for the Age of Oil and (b) the paradigm shift to the Circular Economy and the new Age of Energy Abundance.  The new ‘Net Zero by 2050’ report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) was the first shock: It

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Supply chains set to transform as companies start to reshore

Major new opportunities are starting to appear in today’s New Normal world, as I describe in a new analysis for the Institution of Chemical Engineers. Please click here to read the full article. We are set to enter a “New Normal” world as economies slowly reopen again with the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines. This will

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Biden’s Earth Day Summit puts plastics recycling on the fast track

Plastics has long been the ‘odd one out’ in terms of recycling. Steel, aluminium, glass, cardboard, rubber and paper routinely have up to a 70% rate of recycling. But plastics has been stuck at around 10% for a long time. President Biden’s Earth Day Summit is likely to change this picture, and quickly. The reason

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Rising US interest rates, US$ and oil prices set to pressure financial markets

Everyone who has ever played the Beer Distribution Game on a training course knows what is happening in supply chains today. A small increase in underlying demand is rapidly leading to a massive increase in ‘apparent demand’. As the New York Times reports, “the pandemic has disrupted every stage of the (supply chain) journey.”  And

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Weak demand – and the illusion of a return to “normal”

My new interview with Real Vision focuses on the major changes underway in the economy. Our analysis of the chemical industry, auto market, and technology sector, suggests a return to the “old normal” is highly unlikely. Instead, major changes are underway in Demand Patterns, Reshoring, Energy Abundance, the Circular Economy and in Advanced Manufacturing.  For

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Iran highlights OPEC’s dilemma on output cuts

Saying you “won’t do something” may stop you digging a bigger hole for yourself. But it doesn’t help in deciding what you should do instead. That’s OPEC’s dilemma today on raising oil output. Everything seemed simple enough a year ago, as the pandemic took hold: Saudi Arabia’s first reaction was to assume it would have

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Oil markets hit perfect storm as coronavirus cuts demand

Former Saudi Oil Minister Sheikh Yamani’s warning in 2000 looks increasingly prophetic today: “30 years from now, there will be a huge amount of oil – and no buyers. 30 years from now, there is no problem with oil. The Stone Age did not end because the world ran out of stones, and the Oil

The End of “Business as Usual”

In my interview for Real Vision earlier this month, (where the world’s most successful investors share their thoughts on the markets and the biggest investment themes), I look at what data from the global chemical industry is telling us about the outlook for the global economy and suggest it could be set for a downturn. “We look at

Déjà vu all over again for oil markets as recession risks rise

Back in 2015, veteran Saudi Oil Minister Ali  Naimi was very clear about Saudi’s need to adopt a market share-based pricing policy: “Saudi Arabia cut output in 1980s to support prices. I was responsible for production at Aramco at that time, and I saw how prices fell, so we lost on output and on prices

Plastics recycling paradigm shift will create Winners and Losers

My new analysis for iCIS Chemical Business highlights the paradigm shift now underway in the plastics industry. A paradigm shift is underway in the plastics industry as public concern mounts over the impact of plastic waste on the oceans and the environment. For 30 years, plastics producers have primarily focused upstream on securing cost-competitive feedstock supply. […]

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Oil prices flag recession risk as Iranian geopolitical tensions rise

Today, we have “lies, fake news and statistics” rather than the old phrase “lies, damned lies and statistics”. But the general principle is still the same.  Cynical players simply focus on the numbers that promote their argument, and ignore or challenge everything else. The easiest way for them to manipulate the statistics is to ignore […]

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Chemicals flag rising risk of synchronised global slowdown

Chemicals are easily the best leading indicator for the global economy.  And if the global economy was really in recovery mode, as policymakers believe, then the chemical industry would be the first to know – because of its early position in the value chain. Instead, it has a different message as the chart confirms: It […]

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Economy faces slowdown as oil/commodity prices slide

Oil and commodity markets long ago lost contact with the real world of supply and demand. Instead, they have been dominated by financial speculation, fuelled by the vast amounts of liquidity pumped out by the central banks.  The chart above from John Kemp at Reuters gives the speculative positioning in the oil complex as published […]

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Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ is looking a lot less clear

Saudi Arabia’s U-turn to revive oil output quotas is not working and fails to address the changing future of oil demand, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog Saudi Arabia’s move into recession comes at an unfortunate time for its new Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman […]

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Oil market supply/demand finally begins to matter again as commodity funds withdraw

Its been a long time since oil market supply/demand was based on physical barrels rather than financial flows:   First there was the subprime period, when the Fed artificially boosted demand and caused Brent to hit $147/bbl   Then there was QE, where central banks gave free cash to commodity hedge funds and led Brent to hit […]

Plastics demand is peaking as circular economy arrives

The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones.  Similarly, coal is being left in the ground because we no longer need it any more.  And the same is happening to oil, as Saudi Arabia recognised last year in its Vision 2030: “Within 20 years, we will be an economy that doesn’t depend mainly […]

Oil heads back below $30/bbl as hedge funds give up on OPEC

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it“. George Santayana 9 months ago, it must have seemed such a good idea.  Ed Morse of Citi and other oil market analysts were calling the hedge funds with a sure-fire winning strategy, as the Wall Street Journal reported in May: “Dozens of hedge-fund managers […]

Oil price weakness will unmask reflation and recovery myth

Oil markets have been at the centre of the recent myth that economic recovery was finally underway.  The theory was that rising inflation, caused by rising oil prices, meant consumer demand was increasing.  In turn, this meant that the central banks had finally achieved their aim of restoring economic growth via their zero interest rate […]

Oil prices under pressure as US oil/product exports ramp up

On Monday, I discussed how OPEC abandoned Saudi Oil Minister Naimi’s market share strategy during H2 last year. Naimi’s strategy had stopped the necessary investment being made to properly exploit the new US shale discoveries. But this changed as the OPEC/non-OPEC countries began to talk prices up to $50/bbl. As CNN reported last week: “Cash is pouring […]

US Permian’s shale oil surge highlights OPEC’s failed strategy

OPEC and Russia made a massive mistake last November when when they decided to try and establish a $50/bbl floor for world oil prices.  And now they have doubled down on their mistake by extending the deal to March 2018. They have ignored 4 absolutely critical facts:   Major US shale oil producers were already […]

Oil market rebalancing myth looks close to its sell-by date

The myth of oil market rebalancing has been a great money-maker for financial markets.  Hedge funds were the first to benefit in H2 last year, as Reuters has reported, when: “OPEC and some of the most important hedge funds active in commodities reached an understanding on oil market rebalancing during informal briefings held in the […]

Oil prices could halve as the speculative bubble starts to burst

The past few weeks have been a nightmare for the many hedge funds who gambled on higher oil prices. They obviously hadn’t realised that OPEC’s November quota agreement was most unlikely to lead to a major rebalancing of today’s vastly over-supplied market.  But as I suggested in December: “The simple fact is that the arrival […]

America hits “peak gasoline” moment as demand patterns change

OPEC has a long wait ahead, if it hopes that US drivers will ever go back to SuperCycle levels of driving and gasoline consumption growth.  That’s the clear message from new data from the US Dept of Transport showing vehicle miles traveled last year.  The chart shows: □  Average number of miles driven per adult […]

Speculators’ tail wags oil market dog as paper trading dominates

Trading oil markets used to be hard work. You had to talk to all the major players all the time (not just message them), and learn to judge whether they were telling the truth or inventing a version of it.  You had to watch for breaking economic and political news.  And you needed your own […]

Trump and dollar strength will accelerate the Great Reckoning

Corporate debt in the Emerging Markets highlights the impact of the Great Reckoning, with the US dollar and interest rates rising, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog Corporate borrowers in Emerging Markets (EMs) are now facing higher debt service and capital repayment costs, due to […]

India’s currency reforms hitting ordinary people, the economy and auto/oil demand

It is now just over a month since India introduced the biggest currency reform the world has ever seen.  In a country of 1.3bn people, it abolished the 2 main banknotes (worth $207bn), that accounted for 86% of all cash in circulation. At 20:15 hours on 8 November, the government announced that the 500 and 1,000 […]

OPEC move supports US oil production rise, and smart meters

OPEC is living in the past with its recent announcement of new quotas. The simple fact is that the arrival of US shale production means OPEC are no longer the swing producer, able to control the world market. The quotas will have little effect in themselves, as most of the participants will cheat.  Instead, they […]

3 key questions for the oil market poker game, ahead of OPEC’s meeting

Volatility continues to dominate oil markets, as the above chart confirms.  Some weeks have seen prices move by over 18%.  These are extraordinary moves in a market which is very well supplied, with near-record inventory levels.  Some recent daily moves are equally extraordinary, with prices jumping $2.50/bbl on Tuesday. The volatility highlights the power of […]

Global GDP saw record fall in 2015 – new IMF data

New data from the International Monetary Fund confirms that last year’s collapse in global GDP was even worse than first reported. As the chart shows,the fall when measured in current dollars was a record $4.7tn, versus $3.3tn in 2009.  And it was 6% in percentage terms versus 5.3% in 2009: Even more worrying is that […]

Oil prices remain at pre-2005 levels as inventories rise

Its mid-winter in Russia, and the snow is deep in some parts of Moscow.  Meanwhile in Venezuela the economy is close to meltdown, and its hard to find even essentials in Caracas.  So it is no real surprise that this month saw their Oil Ministers head for “important discussions” in the warmer climate of the […]

$25/bbl oil – probably now only a question of “when”, not “if”

Oil prices are just $1 or so away from falling back into the $10 – $35/bbl range that has dominated most of history. Thus we are now reaching a second critical moment in oil markets since Stimulus began in 2009, as the chart shows: The first was the end of the Stimulus rally which ran […]

Oil stocks at record levels as demand growth slows, supply rises

OECD oil inventories have never been higher.  They were 2.9mb at the end of July, and are expected to have risen further since then, according to energy watchdog the International Energy Agency: In terms of days of forward cover, they are now at 63 days in the OECD overall They are at 68 days in […]

OPEC hit as ‘peak oil demand’ arrives and US imports fall

Oil market traders have been having fun in recent weeks, as they have managed to create guaranteed price movements every week: US oil inventory data is published on Tuesday and Wednesday This gives traders the chance to push prices lower as the inventories continue to rise US oil rig data is published on Friday This creates the chance to […]