Thrust Fault, Reverse Fault ...OPEC'S Fault?

December 8, 2019

Other than it is currently helping to keep oil prices from falling to the low $40's, in the face of continued US shale oil growth, I don't give a rats ass about OPEC. I think my country is going to be heavily reliant on OPEC oil, again, in the not so distant future but the truth of the matter is that OPEC has caused me untold misery over the past 45 years. In the mid to late 1980's, and oil prices in the $13 range, OPEC almost broke me.  

 

But I do NOT like that it gets the blame for the 56% collapse in oil prices in 2014. That is NOT the truth and people have worn that lie plum out. It's one thing to have nationalistic pride, a whole other thing to be dumb about it. The US shale oil phenomena caused the price of oil to collapse in 2014, not OPEC. 

 

 WTI oil prices began falling in mid July 2014; Source EIA...

 

The chart above clearly shows the falling price of oil in mid 2014 was  a result of an incremental, four year increase in US production, all of that from the unconventional shale oil revolution that started in earnest in 2009-2010. After oil prices began to fall, US production continued growing and peaked in June of 2015; Source EIA.

 

"The technology of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and other technologies that allow us to access previously inaccessible energy reserves has enabled the development of significant new supplies in North America. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. production has risen roughly 45% over the last four years, while Canada now produces approximately 25% more than it did four years ago. Together, Canada and the United States produce some five million more barrels of oil each day than they did in 2010.

 

In a market where a shift of one million barrels of oil per day is thought to have a significant effect on the price of oil, the productive capacity added in North America has been staggering. Total world demand has grown about 4% since 2010, which works out to about 4 million barrels of additional demand each day. North American oil production has therefore grown about 38% faster than total global demand."   Forbes; 2015

 

 

In the chart above we see OPEC production fell starting 2014, was flat for 3 months, rose about 900MM BOPD the next 3 months, then fell from 30.6MM BOPD in October 2014 to 30.2MM BOPD by November, 2014. OPEC production stayed fairly flat thru the end of 2014. It was only in February 2015, after the price had fallen 56%, that OPEC announced it would  increase its production to regain market share previously lost to  the increase in US shale oil growth. The price of WTI then fell further, from $58 a barrel down to $30 a month by February 2016. Later that year, in November, OPEC began cutting production to prop up world oil prices. Its been doing that ever since.

 

OPEC had nothing whatsoever to do with the 2014 oil price collapse other than it was faulted, mostly by US shale oil producers, for not having cut it's production, allowing America to continue to grow it's production. 

 

"Saudi Arabia's actions also contributed to falling 2014 oil prices. Faced with a decision between letting prices continue to drop or ceding market share by cutting production in an effort to send prices upward again, the Middle Eastern country kept its production stable..." Investopedia

 

THAT'S a helluva reason to blame OPEC for the mess in 2014. The truth is the US shale oil industry shot itself in the foot with overleveraged oversupply. The ramifications of that oversupply to reserve impairments, debt to asset ratios, loan covenants, cash flow, lender, stakeholder and public sentiment have never been the same.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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