On November 27, the nation’s attention will descend on the heart of Texas for another classic NFL Thanksgiving matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. Cheap seats on StubHub are currently selling for $150 and up.

Also on Thanksgiving Day, but on the other side of the world, the oil industry’s attention will descend on Vienna, Italy, for the latest meeting between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Tickets are not available, but if they were, they would be well worth the price of admission.

The price of Brent crude closed at a four-year low—$78.17—on November 13, adding fuel to what is expected to be a very tense meeting between OPEC members at the end of the month. The group has typically convened to determine oil prices, which generally sets the global price. The Saudis have gone against the conventional method recently, leaving fellow members up in arms over lower prices that generate little or no profit. Some members have suggested cutting output in order to maintain price, but the Saudis have been very “Greenspan-like, in terms of clarity,” said Mike Wittner, head of global oil andcommodities research at Societe Generale.

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia (who contributes roughly 33% of all OPEC production) has denied accusations of a price war with the U.S. shale producers, despite implementing price cuts of more than $25 since the beginning of October. “Talk of a price war is a sign of misunderstanding, deliberate or otherwise, and has no basis in reality,” insisted Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, while speaking in Mexico this week.

“I don’t see Saudi Arabia using oil as a geopolitical weapon, but they are testing U.S. shale,” said Jeremy Friesen, Executive Director of Morgan Stanley, in a presentation on Tuesday in Denver.

“Even without immediate OPEC cuts, global demand should respond to the large price discount and help absorb current supply,” Friesen said.

EIA takes out the Knife as WTI breaks the $75 Floor

The Energy Information Administration reflected the slumping oil prices in the latest installment of its Short Term Energy Outlook, slashing its price prediction for Brent in 2015 to $83.42 from $101.67. WTI prices in 2015 are estimated at $77.75, down from its original assessment of $94.58. Both estimates are approximately 18% less than its previous prediction.

West Texas Intermediate prices closed today below $75 – the lowest mark in three years. The prices came in spite of a draw of roughly 1.7 million barrels in the Department of Energy’s latest petroleum inventory report.

“To me, the market’s reaction confirms just how bearish sentiment is. Even with decent numbers like these, the market can’t rally,” Kyle Cooper, managing director IAF Advisors, said in a Reuters interview.

Barron’s said $75 oil prices were plausible back in March due to the unfixed production costs. The article says most tight oil is still economic at $75 a barrel, but several E&Ps have announced slight reductions in their 2015 drilling plans in the recent earnings season. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t expect changes from OPEC until Brent prices reach $70 per barrel. That’s $8.17 away, just enough for a cold beer at the Thanksgiving Day game.

Important disclosures: The information provided herein is believed to be reliable; however, EnerCom, Inc. makes no representation or warranty as to its completeness or accuracy. EnerCom’s conclusions are based upon information gathered from sources deemed to be reliable. This note is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or financial instrument of any company mentioned in this note. This note was prepared for general circulation and does not provide investment recommendations specific to individual investors. All readers of the note must make their own investment decisions based upon their specific investment objectives and financial situation utilizing their own financial advisors as they deem necessary. Investors should consider a company’s entire financial and operational structure in making any investment decisions. Past performance of any company discussed in this note should not be taken as an indication or guarantee of future results. EnerCom is a multi-disciplined management consulting services firm that regularly intends to seek business, or currently may be undertaking business, with companies covered on Oil & Gas 360®, and thereby seeks to receive compensation from these companies for its services. In addition, EnerCom, or its principals or employees, may have an economic interest in any of these companies. As a result, readers of EnerCom’s Oil & Gas 360® should be aware that the firm may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this note. The company or companies covered in this note did not review the note prior to publication. EnerCom, or its principals or employees, may have an economic interest in any of the companies covered in this report or on Oil & Gas 360®. As a result, readers of EnerCom’s reports or Oil & Gas 360® should be aware that the firm may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this report.

Analyst Commentary

Raymond James Equity Research (11.13.14)

This week's petroleum inventories update was bullish relative to consensus. "Big Three" petroleum inventories (crude, gasoline, distillates) fell by 2.7 MMBbls, versus consensus estimates calling for no change. The largest delta came from the change in crude stockpiles this week, with the decline of 1.7 MMBbls in stark contrast to expectations for a build of 1.1 MMBbls. While Cushing crude inventories continue to rebuild (up 1.7 MMBbls this week), Gulf Coast inventories reversed course and fell by 2.8 MMBbls. Total petroleum inventories were down 5.2 MMBbls.

Refinery utilization rose to 90.1% from 88.4% last week as maintenance season comes to an end. Total petroleum imports were 8.7 MMBbls per day, up slightly from 8.6 MMBbls per day last week. On a four-week moving average basis, imports are down 0.8 MMBbls per day vs. last year. Total petroleum product demand rose 1.2% after last week's 2.3% decline, and is essentially flat on a four-week moving average basis.

Amid a rapidly shifting macroeconomic and geopolitical backdrop, there has been plenty of volatility in oil prices over the past year - including an exceedingly sharp correction from August through the present, taking prices to four-year lows. The bounce in the first half of 2014 was mainly driven by improved economic data as well as geopolitical instability (Libya, Syria, South Sudan, Iraq). More recently, negative datapoints have come out of several key economies, including China and the euro zone. Demand continues to decline for OECD countries in aggregate, and demand growth in China and other emerging markets is slow, in part due to declining oil intensity. On the supply side, non-OPEC supply is trending up, driven largely (though not exclusively) by robust growth in the U.S. Of course, the wildcard remains the possibility of supply disruptions (above and beyond the lingering outages in Libya), as evidenced by the crisis in northern Iraq (although it has had virtually no impact on oil production thus far). The geopolitical risk premium in oil prices has clearly subsided. Concurrently, strength in the U.S. dollar has further pressured oil prices. Balancing all of the above variables, last month we lowered our 2015 Brent forecast to $90/Bbl (vs. $110/Bbl previously). For WTI, we project $75/Bbl in 2015 (vs. $85/Bbl previously), which reflects our concerns about constraints in domestic light sweet refining capacity, and in the absence of major changes in crude export policy. For some context, the 12-month futures curve is currently at $82.84/Bbl for Brent and $75.72/Bbl for WTI.  

Legal Notice