The most recent WTI drop of 2.9% is the largest in a month. Supply versus demand continues to be a curious topic that is the main driver of the current crude oil situation. Oversupply of crude oil in 2020 continues as just in the past few days in the North Sea there are a combined 12 cargoes that have yet to find a buyer suggesting slow demand is taking place in the region.
After a decade long battle over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the Trump Administration has opened the area to oil and gas development. One of the largest remaining stretches of wilderness in the United States, North-Eastern Alaska sits above billions of barrels of oil. The reported ANWR lease area contains up to 11.8 billion barrels of attainable oil across 1.5 million acres of coastal plain. Although any oil production within the wildlife refuge would be years in the future, companies could begin the process of seeking permits and exploring for oil and gas much sooner.
Oil and gas explorations remain sluggish and failing to rebound as expected. At $40+ a barrel and positive market indicator would historically promote conditions for the industry to recover, however there has been no indication of a recovery to speak of. The new normal seems to be a slim, budget conscious, and efficient industry soup to nuts.
A few days ago, the Maran Apollo, a 1,100-feet long oil tanker, left the U.S Gulf of Mexico for the Chinese port of Rizhao hauling a cargo of two million barrels of U.S. crude. Sitting for almost two months, the supertanker held demand-less crude during the coronavirus outbreak. This crude sitting on the tanker is known as medium-heavy sour crude and is now in high demand because of its higher content in sulfur and denseness. Sour crude is typically from Canada and the U.S. Gulf Coast whereas West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is a “sweet” crude oil. WTI, which is typically lighter and is less expensive to produce. Known as “sour” which is typically undesirable for both processing and end-product quality, it’s the kind of oil that Saudi Arabia and its allies produce. Urals of Russia and Arab Light from Saudi Arabia are normally two of the most widely consumed in today’s market, but crude is in increasingly short supply due to record output cuts by the two nations and their allies.