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.
The National Oil Corporation in Libya (NOC) is eager to reopen one of their main export hubs this week, marking the first movement from the OPEC member since oil terminals were placed under force majeure at the beginning of this year after the occupation of the Libyan National Army (LNA). As the blockade reaches into its seventh month and Libyan oil production plummeting from 1.2 million bpd to 100,000 bpd during this period, the LNA and NOC are currently negotiating the restart of oil production.
As we near the end of May, we will put behind us one of the most bullish rallies for the WTI crude oil contract in history with crude jumping almost 75% this month alone. Of course, with WTI prices currently trading at $33.33/barrel, that’s not saying much, as it is widely perceived the breakeven price for domestic crude producers is $32/barrel. The question is: will this rally persist? Let’s review some components to watch out for this summer.
OPEC+ came to an agreement earlier this month to institute record-breaking production cuts of nearly 10 million barrels per day. The production cuts were set to take effect on May 1st, but some members have taken it upon themselves to start earlier. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have both made the decision to start scaling back production to work towards the production cut goal. Saudi Arabia has scaled back production from 12 million barrels per day(bpd) over the weekend to reach its goal of 8.5 million bpd. Kuwait is OPEC’s fourth largest producer and they have also made the decision to start the cuts early. Kuwait’s Oil Minister Khaled Al-Fadhel said that starting the cuts early was because they felt a responsibility to address the market conditions.
OPEC+ reached an agreement to cut 9.7 million barrels per day (mb/d) beginning in May which is a record-breaking cut, but it still may not be enough to stabilize the market. U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said that the total number of cuts globally, when you add in all the non-OPEC countries, should be closer to 20 mb/d. In reality, the number is much smaller than that and will still have an impact, even if it’s not the cut some were expecting. The cuts will help prevent a complete meltdown, even if there is no immediate price rally. The deal is expected to stabilize the global oil price and reduce the market volatility according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.