If you want 11 million reasons to be optimistic about America, you might want to start with counting barrels of crude oil. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that U.S. crude oil production exceeded 11 million barrels a day for the first time in history. Not too many years ago, that would have seemed to have been impossible by many who lacked the imagination and drive of those in the U.S. energy industry.
The world’s oil-consuming nations are showing growing unease about the rapidly tightening global crude oil market and are considering releasing oil from their strategic petroleum reserves. On Friday, Bloomberg News reported that the Trump Administration is reviewing options ranging from a 5 million-barrel test sale to the release of 30 million barrels from its oil reserve to cool pump prices ahead of congressional elections in November and as sanctions on Iran are due to snap back.
Expect more crude oil price volatility as the global oil market can flip from a global supply surplus to a global supply deficit at the drop of a hat. The market is trying to assess whether more sources of oil will get us to the point where daily global oil production is once again ahead of our daily consumption. So far it has not.
The Trump Administration has a knack for cooling down crude oil prices every time they look to be getting out of control. Trade War talk, potential wavers on an Iranian oil embargo, and telling Germany that they are captive to Russia because of the reliance on them for energy supply, not to mention the resumption of some Libyan oil exports cooled off prices as they were boiling over due to rapidly falling U.S. supply.
It looks like it is going to be a showdown at the OPEC coral as Iran leads the coalition of the not so willing to raise oil production along with Iraq and Venezuela. The coalition of the willing lead by Saudi Arabia and the so-called Plus 1, Non-OPEC Russia seems as committed as ever to raising oil output. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak Is pushing for a 1.5-million-barrel increase in output, which is partly a negotiating tactic and partly a concern that the market might become undersupplied in the third quarter.
Looking for fear in the oil market? Look no further than the Brent versus West Texas Intermediate oil spread that blew out to the highest level all year and the highest since 2015, with Brent holding a $7.30 per barrel premium currently above WTI. European and Asian buyers of Brent are pricing in the risks and realities of the fallout from sanctions on Iran to increased tensions in the Gaza strip as well as the inability of traditional Brent oil producers to fill that void.
Crude oil prices are hovering just below a three-year high as many are still shocked that oil prices are again trading this high. Oil prices started out strong on Iranian-Israeli war tensions but pulled back after data from Genscape put crude storage at Cushing, Okla., at 39.56 million barrels as of Tuesday, up 479,644 barrels from Friday.
Oil has taken off like a rocket as Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria in response to rocket fire overnight. Israel says it targeted Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria, in response to an Iranian rocket attack on the occupied Golan Heights.
U.S stocks ended mixed on the news while oil prices fluctuated in each direction, as investors considered the potential negative ramifications of Trump’s decision. The U.S President adopted a very aggressive rhetoric during the announcement and failed to hold back from his view that the 2015 agreement was “defective” at its core.
Crude prices are going nuclear as President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear accord creating a new risk dynamic for global oil markets. The decision by president Trump to pull the plug on what he said was a horrible deal comes as global oil demand is rising and the lack of investment in the oil patch is making it difficult for global oil production to keep pace with demand.