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OPEC admits United States shale may crash oil price

OPEC admits United States shale may crash oil price

In spite of this, oil markets remain relatively weak.

Brent for May settlement added 1 cent to $64.65 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. In February, the IEA said that US shale production was growing so quickly that it could lead to another period of lower prices, spoiling OPEC's effort at re-balancing the market just as that elusive goal appeared "close to hand".

The Monthly Oil Market Report for March also showed non-OPEC oil supply for 2018 is revised 280,000 bpd higher from the month's prior forecast, representing year-on-year growth of 1.66 million bpd to 59.53 million bpd total supply.

European equity markets were buoyed by strong earnings from several key financial firms, while U.S. stock index futures SPc1 pointed to a pickup on Wall Street later.

All this points to American crude output exceeding expectations in output terms; within OPEC, Iran is lobbying to keep oil prices at US$60, fearing that a US$70/b target will only encourage additional USA shale output.

OPEC, Russia and several other non-OPEC producers, but not the United States, began to cut supply in January 2017 to get rid of a global glut of crude that had built up since 2014.

Zawiya exports crude from Libya's giant El Sharara oilfield, which produces 300,000 barrels per day (bpd), more than a quarter of the country's output.

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While there is speculation about what that might mean for the resolve of OPEC members in regards to the production limits, a more immediate response could come in the form of altering the overall metric used to define success.

OPEC also said oil inventories across the most industrialized countries rose in January for the first time in eight months, a sign the impact of its output cuts may be waning.

For example, Joe McMonigle, an analyst with Hedgeye Capital, said that re-imposing U.S. oil sanctions on Iran could lead to the removal of as much as 1 million b/d of Iranian crude exports from the world oil market. OPEC acknowledged the scale of the shale boom, forecasting for the first time that supply growth from rivals will outstrip the increase in demand this year. Looking at reactions in markets, crude oil prices fell following the EIA report.

Either way, Dhar expects oil prices will to continue to drift lower by the end of 2018. Analysts from Facts Global Energy and the Royal Bank of Canada warned of a risk that USA relations with the Persian Gulf state may deteriorate while a resumption of sanctions on the Middle East producer could curb its exports and boost prices.

But the surge in shale production has made that much less likely and traders have started to revise their expectations for a deficit in the second half of the year.

Rising US production continues to stoke market fears.

For 2018, oil demand growth is anticipated to be around 1.60 mb/d and global oil demand is now expected to reach 98.60 mb/d, marginally higher than last month's assessment. But after that, as the historic shale expansion slows to more pedestrian levels, "the market might well need the supplies now being held off the market by leading producers", the IEA said.


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