US crude futures posted an eighth straight weekly gain, the longest stretch of advances since 2015. Brent crude topped $85 a barrel in London for the first time since 2018, the latest milestone in a global energy crisis that has seen prices soar.
Oil posted the biggest weekly gain since late September as Saudi Arabia’s plan to slice output spurred a surge in physical crude buying.
To the extent that stock prices reflect expectations of future value, investors don’t like the prospects for oil, and oil’s demise signals muted prospects for economic growth.
Oil prices continued to rise last week despite the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. New York futures closed at $29.43 and Brent at $32.50.
The price of U.S. crude oil collapse to below zero for the first time on record, falling to negative-$37 per barrel and forcing oil producers to pay buyers to take the product off their hands.
Last week saw one of the biggest price leaps in the history of the oil industry, with US futures surging from around $20 a barrel at mid-week to a close of $28.34 on Friday.
The market situation changed rapidly last week. On Monday, the oil traders were focused on the Saudi price war. By week’s end, however, the Saudi initiative had been overshadowed by the rapid spread of the coronavirus and its impact on oil demand.
I believe we will see a fairly rapid decline in the production of shale oil and gas in the U.S. as a large number of fracking companies go bankrupt. I don’t see investors again being taken in by the promises of industry corporate executives, especially when the best drilling acreage is long gone. That is not a message I expect to hear on NPR.
Major players in the oil industry are still in disagreement as to where oil prices will go in the near future. A few weeks ago, many financial writers were talking about $100 oil, but the sudden surge of volatility and turmoil in global financial markets has caused many to rethink their forecasts.
The move by OPEC last week to raise oil production to compensate for outages among the group’s members shows that U.S. shale oil (properly called “tight oil”) is still in its cross hairs–and that the economics of tight oil remain abysmal.
A consistent theme in my articles is the charts reveal that economic disruptions, such as ructions in the stock market, tend to follow periods of marked instability in the price of oil, and further, that the economy at large appears to be acutely sensitive to sudden changes in the cost of energy – as mirrored by the longest lines on the chart above.
A weekly roundup of peak oil news.