Oil jumps $2, breaking range as supply seen ebbing


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices jumped more than $2 a barrel on Tuesday, breaking out of a month-long trading range on a mix of technical buying and industry talk as well as U.S. government data suggesting the global supply glut could be ebbing.

Global benchmark Brent crude (LCOc1) rallied for a third straight day and settled above $50 a barrel for the first time in a month. This convinced some dealers that there was little chance prices would slide back to the 6-1/2-year lows touched in August.

Early gains were fueled by a U.S. government forecast for tighter oil supplies next year, and indications that Russia, Saudi Arabia and other big producers might pursue further talks to support the market. The rally accelerated above $50 on chart-based buying and a weakening dollar.

Brent settled up $2.67, or 5.4 percent, at $51.92 a barrel, breaking out of the $47 to $50 band it had traded since early September. Its session peak, a penny shy of $52, was the highest since Sept. 3, and took three-day gains to more than 7 percent.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the U.S. crude benchmark (CLc1), settled up $2.27, or 4.9 percent, at $48.53.

“We have reduced the probability of a return to the $37 to $38 area per nearby WTI,” said Jim Ritterbusch of oil consultancy Ritterbusch & Associates in Chicago. “We will maintain a longstanding view that price declines below this support level are virtually off of the table.”

Chris Jarvis, analyst at Caprock Risk Management in Frederick, Maryland, concurred, saying: “Steeper U.S. production declines over the near term have created a bid for oil prices.”

Even so, analysts told a Reuters survey that U.S. crude stockpiles likely rose last week for a second straight week as more refineries went into maintenance works. [EIA/S]

The American Petroleum Institute industry group will issue at 4:30 p.m. (2030 GMT) preliminary data on U.S. crude inventories for last week, before official numbers on Wednesday from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Global oil demand will grow by the most in six years in 2016 while non-OPEC supply stalls, the EIA said in its monthly report on Tuesday that suggested a surplus of crude is easing more quickly than expected.

Total world supply is expected to rise to 95.98 million barrels a day in 2016, 0.1 percent less than forecast last month, the EIA said in its Short-Term Energy Outlook. Demand is expected to rise 270,000 bpd to 95.2 million barrels, up 0.3 percent from September’s forecast.

Oil executives at an industry conference in London, meanwhile, warned of a “dramatic” decline in U.S. output that could lead to a price spike if fuel demand escalates. Mark Papa, former head of U.S. shale producer EOG Resources, told the “Oil and Money” conference that U.S. production growth would tail off this month and start to decline early next year.

Russia’s energy minister said Russia and Saudi Arabia discussed the oil market in a meeting last week and would continue to consult each other.

OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri said at a conference in London that OPEC and non-OPEC members should work together to reduce the global supply glut.

Iran’s crude sales were on track to hit seven-month lows as its main Asian customers bought less.

Commodity Collapse Has More to Go – ” long winter’ for prices lasting years

  • Morgan Stanley sees `long winter’ for prices lasting years

  • Open interest posts fourth straight monthly drop in September

Even with commodities mired in the worst slump in a generation, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc. are warning bulls that prices may stay lower for years.

Crude oil and copper are unlikely to rebound because of excess supplies, Goldman predicts, and Morgan Stanley forecasts that weaker currencies in producing countries will encourage robust output of raw materials sold for dollars, even during bear markets. Citigroup says the sluggish world economy makes it “hard to argue” that most prices have already bottomed.

The Bloomberg Commodity Index on Sept. 30 capped its worst quarterly loss since the depths of the recession in 2008. The economy in China, the biggest consumer of grains, energy and metals, is expanding at the slowest pace in two decades just as producers struggle to ease surpluses. Alcoa Inc., once a symbol of American industrial might, plans to split itself in two, while Chesapeake Energy Corp. cut its workforce by 15 percent. Caterpillar Inc. may shed 10,000 jobs as demand slows for mining and energy equipment.


“It would take a brave soul to wade in with both feet into commodities,” Brian Barish, who helps oversee about $12.5 billion at Denver-based Cambiar Investors LLC. “There is far more capacity coming on than there is demand physically. And the only way that you fix the problem is to basically shut capacity in, and you do that by starving commodity producers for capital.”

Investors are already bailing.

Open interest in raw materials, which measures holdings of futures and options, fell for a fourth month in September, the longest streak since 2008, government data show. U.S. exchange-traded products tracking metals, energy and agriculture saw net withdrawals of $467.8 million for the month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Bloomberg Commodity Index, a measure of returns for 22 components, is poised for a fifth straight annual loss, the longest slide since the data begins in 1991. It’s a reversal from the previous decade, when booming growth across Asia fueled a synchronized surge in prices, dubbed the commodity super cycle. Farmers, miners and oil drillers expanded supplies, encouraged by prices that were at record highs in 2008. Now, that output is coming to the market just as global growth is slowing.

Over-investment in new supplies in the past decade and favorable growing conditions for crops caused gluts, Citigroup analysts led by Ed Morse, the global head of commodities research, said in a report Sept. 11. The bank is bearish on crude oil, aluminum, platinum, iron ore, cocoa and wheat in the next three to six months.

Investors need to brace for a “long winter,” with the commodities bear market predicted to last for many years and oil dropping to as low as $35 a barrel, said Ruchir Sharma, who helps manage $25 billion as the head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investment Management in New York. Crude futures traded Tuesday at $46.19, down from about $90 a year earlier.

Goldman Sachs has an even dimmer outlook.

The odds are increasing that oil will slump near $20 because the market is more oversupplied than initially forecast, analysts led by Jeffrey Currie, the head of commodities research, said in a Sept. 11 report. Currie, in an interview days later, said prices could stay low for the next 15 years. The bank also forecasts that copper will remain in surplus through at least 2019 and fall 13 percent to $4,500 a metric ton by the end of next year.

Still, future production isn’t assured. Miners are already scaling back on spending, and extreme weather can cause surprise reductions in farm output.

Rice, one of only a handful of commodities to rise this year, gained 14 percent as a record-wet May in Texas and above-average temperatures in July in other growing states eroded U.S. yield prospects. Companies from Glencore Plc to Freeport-McMoran Inc. are cutting metal output, and Royal Dutch Shell Plc announced it would abandon its drilling campaign in U.S. Arctic waters after spending $7 billion.

“Once you get to a certain price, you’re going to lose a lot of the players,” said Karyn Cavanaugh, a senior market strategist at Windsor, Connecticut-based Voya Investment Management, which oversees $205 billion. “And at that point then, prices will go up.”

Even if demand rebounds, there are still a lot of excess inventories to work through.

U.S. crude-oil stockpiles remain almost 100 million barrels above the five-year average. Copper inventories tracked by the London Metal Exchange have more than doubled in the past 12 months, and the International Grains Council sees wheat reserves climbing to a record next year.

Investors are punishing producers. Glencore has lost about 60 percent in market value this year, and credit markets already view its debt as junk. Seven of the 10 worst performers in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index this year are commodities-related businesses.

In the case of Caterpillar, the world’s most valuable machinery producer, share prices slumped 23 percent last quarter, as the company struggled to cope with the ripple effects of the slump in oil. The Peoria, Illinois-based company is cutting as much as 9 percent of its workforce through 2018 to lower costs.

“The global infrastructure and supply of commodities still needs to be re-balanced, and it will probably take a couple more years to resolve itself,” said Jack Bass, chief strategist for Jack A. Bass and Associates, Vancouver, Canada.

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Suncor launches hostile offer to buy Canadian Oil Sands



Canada’s biggest energy company is promising Canadian Oil Sands shareholders higher dividends as it seeks to take advantage of plunging crude prices to add production in Alberta.

CALGARY — Suncor Energy is looking to add another big chunk to its vast oilsands holdings — and take advantage of a prolonged rout in crude prices — with an unsolicited takeover bid for Canadian Oil Sands Ltd., the largest partner in the Syncrude mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta.

Analysts warn that the world could be one geopolitical event away from an oil price spike as the global safety cushion for production disruptions sinks to historic lows.

Suncor said Monday it’s offering $4.3 billion in its own shares and would take on about $2.3 billion of debt owed by Canadian Oil Sands, making the total transaction worth $6.6 billion.

Suncor says the offer would give shareholders of Canadian Oil Sands a stake in Canada’s largest integrated energy company, which includes the Petro-Canada chain of fuel stations as well as its own oil and gas production and refining operations.

The offer value is also 43 per cent above the market value for Canadian Oil Sands, based on closing prices at the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday.

Canadian Oil Sands stock shot up nearly 50 per cent amid speculation that a rival offer may emerge while Suncor shares dipped slightly in early trading.

Suncor said its offer will be open until Dec. 4, although it could be withdrawn or the deadline could be extended.

“We believe this is a financially compelling opportunity for COS shareholders,” Steve Williams, Suncor’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

“We’re offering a significant premium to COS’ current market price and also providing exposure to a meaningful dividend increase. We’re confident in the value this Offer provides to COS shareholders.”

Fort Hills

Fort HillsSuncor Fort Hills oil sands mining project is located in Alberta’s Athabasca region, 90 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

The offer hasn’t been accepted by the Canadian Oil Sands board.

On a conference call, Williams said Suncor made a few overtures to its target in the spring, but was rebuffed.

Crude oil prices have declined by 17 per cent since then, now sitting well below US$50 a barrel. The share price value of Canadian Oil Sands has been dragged down with it, Williams noted.

“There is now a broad consensus among analysts and industry experts that we are in a structurally ’lower for longer’ oil price world,” said Williams.

“We remain convinced there are significant benefits to a transaction for all interested parties. However, given the deterioration of market conditions and the more pessimistic prevailing view on an oil price recovery, we believe the value of COS has declined since the previous offer was made.”

Suncor went shopping during the last major crude downturn in 2009, absorbing Petro-Canada in a blockbuster deal.

Canadian Oil Sands is a widely held company, with no shareholder owning more than six per cent of the common shares according to public data compiled by Thomson Reuters. Its largest shareholders are institutional investors.

Canadian Oil Sands has a 37 per cent stake in the Syncrude oil sands operation and Suncor owns 12 per cent. Othar Syncrude partners are: Imperial Oil with 25 per cent, Sinopec (nine per cent), Nexen (seven per cent), Murphy Oil and Mocal Energy (five per cent each.)

According to Thomson Reuters data, TD Asset Management is the largest shareholder in Canadian Oil Sands, with about five per cent of COS common stock. Other investors include funds managed by Franklin, Deutsch Asset & Wealth, CIBC, Blackrock and Vanguard.

Suncor is offering one-quarter of a Suncor share per COS share. In the first minutes of trading Monday, Suncor shares were down 87 cents at $34.50, making its offer worth nearly $8.63 at the time. COS shares were trading at $9.10.


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Ratings cut on Chesapeake Energy, other oil and gas producers :Outlooks Cut to Negative by S&P in Oil Slump


Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. were among several U.S. oil and natural gas producers that had their outlooks or ratings cut by Standard & Poor’s as the industry suffers from weak crude prices, hurting their cash flow and liquidity.

S&P cut ratings for Chesapeake Energy Corp., Denbury Resources and Whiting Petroleum Corp., while giving Exxon and Chevron “negative” outlooks, the ratings agency said Friday in a statement. Exxon “has substantially more debt than during the last cyclical commodity price trough in 2009, while upstream production and costs are at similar levels,” S&P analysts Thomas Watters and Carin Dehne-Kiley said.

Oil prices have fallen 58 percent from last year’s peak, threatening $1.5 trillion in North America energy investments, according to Wood Mackenzie Ltd.  Oil has been stuck near $45 a barrel as U.S. crude stockpiles stay about 100 million barrels above the five-year seasonal average and OPEC pumps at near-record levels.

Exxon is one of only three U.S. industrial issuers to have a triple-A bond rating, along with Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft Corp. The oil company has held that grade from S&P since at least 1985, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The last U.S. company to lose the triple-A designation from S&P, as well as Moody’s Investors Service, was Automatic Data Processing Inc., which was stripped of the ratings after spinning off its auto-dealer services unit in April 2014.

Chevron has been rated AA by S&P since at least July 1987, Bloomberg data show.

“Most rating actions reflect lower credit-protection measures, negative cash flow, and uncertainty about liquidity over the next 12 months,” S&P said in the statement.

El Niño Could Turn Into Worst Nightmare For U.S Natural Gas Producers ( 10 % less demand this winter)

We have now tumbled into fall, although you wouldn’t know it by looking at the weather forecast. As NOAA’s 8-14 day outlook illustrates, we are set for above-normal conditions for the first week of October across, ooh, basically the entire US. This morning’s natural gas storage report is expected to yield an injection well above the 5-year average of 83 Bcf, and weather forecasts point to further solid injections in the weeks to come.

Last week we took a look at what an El Niño meant for the coming winter as WSI issued its winter weather outlook. WSI is predicting the strongest El Niño in 65 years, which ‘should drive warmer-than-normal temperatures across much of the northern U.S., as the polar jet stream weakens and lifts northward‘. Accordingly, WSI projects natural gas demand this winter to be 10% lower than the previous one.

With this in mind, and with storage levels already 16% higher than last year, and 4% higher than the five-year average, it provides some color as to why the January contract (aka the bleak mid-winter) is currently at a 16-year low.


(Click to enlarge)

There is a somewhat more frosty reception being felt across financial markets today, with Japanese equities opening for the first day this week, and promptly getting walloped. This baton of risk aversion is being passed from continent to continent, as Europe sells off and the US looks down.

Crude prices were finding some solace in a rising euro earlier in the day, with the European Central Bank downplaying the need for further stimulus. But as the outlook gets bleaker for broader markets, risk aversion is dragging crude lower. On the economic data front, we had a weaker-than-expected manufacturing print from Japan (which further greased the wheels for an equity sell-off).

Onto Europe, and German business confidence was the opposite of its compatriot indicator, the ZEW, by showing a weak current assessment but improving expectations (the ZEW was the other way round). Onto the US, and durable goods were relatively in line across the board, while weekly jobless claims came in a little better than expected at 267,000, but slightly higher than last week.

Fears are escalating in the oil patch about an impending credit crunch amid falling investment. Oil producers are set to see credit lines cut by an average of nearly 40%, as the majority of companies see their credit lines shrink due to the revaluation of assets (a twice-yearly phenomenon). This comes at a time when upstream investment is also shrinking in response to lower oil prices. The below chart from EIA highlights that investment levels in the coming years will be significantly lowerthan the 10-year annual average, due to the drop in prices (the crude oil first purchase price is adjusted for inflation).

View gallery


(Click to enlarge)

Finally, we discussed a couple of days ago how Singapore is seeing record stockpiles of fuel oil finding its way onto tankers amid exceptionally strong refining runs. We are seeing a similar tale emerge for diesel exports from China, as refiners keep on refining amid slower demand. According to the General Administration of Customs, diesel exports have risen 77% year-on-year to reach a record 175,000 barrels per day in August. Strong refining runs are endorsed by what we see in our#ClipperData, with Chinese oil imports year-to-date 14% higher than last year, rising to meet this ongoing demand.

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Suncor Boosts Stake in Fort Hills Oil Sands Project

Suncor Energy Inc. is deepening its exposure to its Fort Hills oil sands mine, buying an additional 10-per-cent stake even as oil prices languish under $50 (U.S.) a barrel.

Calgary-based Suncor said on Monday it would pay $310-million to France’s Total SA, boosting its ownership stake to 50.8 per cent. The $13.5-billion mine in Northern Alberta is expected to begin pumping crude in late 2017, adding 180,000 barrels per day of new capacity over time.

The deal comes with U.S. and world oil prices trading at less than half the levels of a year ago, fuelling expectations of increased deal-making as companies seek to offload assets to patch up balance sheets.

Suncor said the added spending associated with the transaction would be covered within its current budget of $5.8-billion to $6.4-billion.

Total said the sale further reduces its exposure to Canada’s high-cost oil sands. The company last year scrapped a separate mining venture called Joslyn. It expects to save about $700-million by shrinking its ownership share in Fort Hills to 29.2 per cent.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. Teck Resources Ltd. owns 20 per cent of the joint venture.

Goldman Cuts Oil Price Forecast – that could drive prices as low as $20 a barrel.

crude oil: Oil is spilling from the barrel, isolated on white background


SEOUL (Reuters) – Crude oil prices fell on Friday as a stronger dollar, Saudi Arabia’s dismissal of a producer summit and a lower price forecast by Goldman Sachs weighed, with prices headed for a weekly loss despite rallying in the previous session.

October Brent, the global oil benchmark, decreased 51 cents to $48.38 a barrel as of 0659 GMT after it settled up $1.31, or 2.8 percent, at $48.89 on Thursday.

October U.S. crude futures lost 65 cents to $45.27 a barrel after it settled up $1.77, or 4 percent, at $45.92 a barrel.

Saudi Arabia believes a summit of heads of states of oil producing countries would fail to produce concrete action toward defending oil prices, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The comments followed a meeting of Gulf Arab oil ministers with Qatar’s emir in Doha, at which a Venezuelan proposal for an OPEC and non-OPEC summit was discussed.

The U.S. dollar edged higher in Asian trading on increased chances of more easing in Japan. A firmer U.S. dollar makes oil more expensive for holders of others currencies.

Goldman Sachs forecast on Friday 2015 WTI prices at $48.10 per barrel from an earlier estimate of $52 per barrel. It also lowered the 2016 WTI price forecast to $45 per barrel from $57 per barrel earlier.

Goldman also predicted 2015 Brent prices at $53.70 per barrel from $58.20 per barrel earlier, while it saw 2016 Brent prices at $49.50 per barrel from $62 per barrel earlier.

Oil prices rallied on Thursday after U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed demand for gasoline over the latest four-week period rose almost 4 percent from a year ago.

Crude inventories were up 2.6 million barrels to 458 million barrels in the past week, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 933,000 barrels.

Yet crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 897,000 barrels to 56.41 million barrels, EIA said.

“Crude oil stocks appear to be stabilizing as refinery demand continues to fall, not surprisingly as refining margins have considerably weakened,” BNP Paribas said in a note.

Russia’s energy minister expects cuts in global shale oil production to help stabilize the oil market. Alexander Novak also reaffirmed that Russia, one of the world’s top oil producers, would not cut its own production.

Asian shares edged higher on Friday following gains on Wall Street while the dollar steadied, but gains were capped by uncertainty over whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next week.

The global surplus of oil is even bigger than Goldman Sachs Group Inc. thought and that could drive prices as low as $20 a barrel.

While it’s not the base-case scenario, a failure to reduce production fast enough may require prices near that level to clear the oversupply, Goldman said in a report e-mailed Friday. The bank cut its forecast for Brent and WTI crude through 2016 on the expectation that the glut will persist on OPEC production growth, resilient supply from outside the group and slowing demand expansion.

“The oil market is even more oversupplied than we had expected and we now forecast this surplus to persist in 2016,” Goldman analysts including Damien Courvalin wrote in the report. “We continue to view U.S. shale as the likely near-term source of supply adjustment.”

Goldman trimmed its 2016 estimate for West Texas Intermediate to $45 a barrel from a May projection of $57. The bank also reduced its 2016 Brent crude prediction to $49.50 a barrel from $62.

WTI for October delivery fell as much as $1.16, or 2.5 percent, to $44.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and is heading for a weekly decline. Prices are down 16 percent this year. Brent for October settlement is 3.6 percent lower this week.

Global Glut

Oil in New York has slumped more than 25 percent from its June closing peak amid signs the glut will persist. Leading members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are sustaining output, while Iran seeks to boost supply once international sanctions are lifted. U.S. stockpiles remain about 100 million barrels above the five-year seasonal average.

“We now believe the market requires non-OPEC production to shift from our prior expectation of modest growth to large declines in 2016,” Goldman said. “The uncertainty on how and where that adjustment will take place has increased.”

U.S. Output

The U.S. pumped 9.14 million barrels a day of oil last week, almost 3 million barrels above the five-year seasonal average, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. While the EIA this week cut its 2015 output forecast for the nation by 1.5 percent to 9.22 million barrels a day, production this year is still projected to be the highest since 1972.

U.S. output will need to decline by 585,000 barrels a day next year and other non-OPEC production will need to fall by 220,000 barrels a day for the global surplus to end by the fourth quarter of 2016, Goldman said. Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran will drive supply growth from OPEC, the bank said.

Shale oil production in the U.S. will drop 9 percent next year as a crude price below $50 a barrel “slams brakes” on years of growth, the International Energy Agency said in its monthly market report Friday. Output is forecast to fall by 385,000 barrels a day next year to 3.9 million barrels a day. Total non-OPEC supply will drop by 500,000 barrels a day next year, according to the IEA.

OPEC, the supplier of 40 percent of the world’s crude, has produced above its 30-million-barrel-a-day quota for the past 15 months. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has vowed to increase output by 1 million barrels a day once sanctions are removed as the nation seeks to regain market share.

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