Last week, the International Energy Agency made a lot of OPEC brows furrow when it warned that 2018 may not be a very happy new year for the cartel. U. S. shale supply, the IEA said in its December Oil Market Report, is set to grow more than OPEC has estimated and this could be the undoing of the production cut that boosted prices this year. OPEC, for its part, has insisted that U. S. shale production won’t grow as much as the IEA says, baffling some observers who now wonder who they should believe. But let’s put it another way: If the coach of a football team tells you that his team will win the cup because they’re the best, but the football association has estimated that the team is not the best one in the league, who would you believe?
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 19, 2017.
Hoy la Clase soberana Petrolera recibe al compaero @MQuevedoF quin asume el @MinPetroleoVE y @PDVSA para continuar el legado de nuestro Comandante Chvez pic.twitter.com/6BH7IsgehW — Eulogio Del Pino (@delpinoeulogio) November 27, 2017
As OPEC is set to celebrate the extension of the cartel’s oil production cut for another year in Vienna, Venezuela former-oil minister and the former head of the now defaulted state energy company PDVSA have no reasons to celebrate following their overnight arrests in Venezuela. Taking a page out of the Saudi “anti-corruption” playbook, Reuters reports citing two sources that Venezuelan authorities detained former Oil Minister Eulogio del Pino and former state oil company PDVSA president Nelson Martinez overnight as a part of a broad anti-corruption probe.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 30, 2017.
As Saudi Arabia spins from crisis to crisis, U. S. oil hasn’t missed a beat. It’s stronger and more resilient than ever – and it has nothing to do with OPEC oil production cuts. In this war, U. S. oil wins, and the recent purge of billionaire princes in Saudi Arabia is icing on the cake. But when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arrested key members of the royal family on corruption charges two weeks ago all of them his rivals – oil shot up. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) spiked more than $2 a barrel, closing around $57 a barrel – a nearly two-year high. OPEC cuts have done little to boost oil prices, and Royal Family arrests are welcome news for oil tycoons the world over, but it’s still not what’s kept the U. S. on the winning side in this war: Fracking bust the U. S. through the front line, and major advancements in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) are cementing the victory.
The last November OPEC meeting sent oil prices rocketing 20% higher in less than a month, and this year’s Nov. 30 meeting will be just as important for the energy market… OPEC’s current agreement – the one negotiated during last November’s meeting – caps the total oil production of OPEC and 11 other countries. The agreement limits oil production to 32.5 million barrels a day, a 1.8 million-barrel-per-day reduction from last year. By capping oil production below 2016 output, the cartel is helping end the global oil glut that sent prices tumbling from $107.95 a barrel in June 2014 all the way down to $26.19 by February 2016. That was a 75% drop. In fact, the compliance rate among OPEC members for the production cap reached a high of 120% in September. That means they cut even more oil than the agreement asked them to.
As we noted shortly after the Crown Prince’s purge of potential rivals within Saudi Arabia’s sprawling ruling family, while the dozens of arrests were made under the pretext of an “anti-corruption crackdown”, Mohammed bin Salman’s ulterior motive was something else entirely: Replenishing the Kingdom’s depleted foreign reserves, which have been hammered for the past three years by low oil prices, with some estimating that the current purge could potentially bring in up to $800 billion in proceeds. Furthermore, the geopolitical turmoil unleashed by the unprecedented crackdown helped push oil prices higher, creating an ancillary benefit for both the kingdom’s rulers and the upcoming IPO of Aramco. *** And, in the latest confirmation that the crackdown was all about cash, the Financial Times reports today that the Saudi government has offered the new occupants of the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton a way out…. and it’s going to cost them: In some cases, as much as 70% of their net worth.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 16, 2017.
The turmoil in the Middle East has been instigated in part by fiscal mismanagement. When the money was rolling in with high oil prices, it was assumed, as always, that whatever trend is in motion will remain in motion. Consequently, the government expanded their spending assuming money would continue to flow in. When oil broke, the fiscal mismanagement has been exposed for all to see if they care to look. Falling oil prices have decimated revenues and trade in the region. Security worries about terrorism, particularly in the US, have led to cuts in airline routes. Then there has also been a long-running diplomatic and trade impasse between Saudi Arabia and its allies on the one hand, and Qatar on the other. Now the good-old-days of easy money and rapid growth has led to concerns about over-capacity, waste, and corruption that nobody cared about when money flowed like oil. We are witnessing the beginning of a Middle East War between the Suni and Shite where the latter opposes kings and the state should be ruled by religious leaders. Iran and its Lebanese ally, the militant Shia group Hezbollah, claim the Saudis detained Mr. Saad El-Din Rafik Al-Hariri is a Lebanese-Saudi politician who has been the Prime Minister of Lebanon since December 2016. They allege that Saudi Arabia forced his resignation. Rex Tillerson said he had received assurances that Mr. Hariri was free to leave anytime.
21st Century Wire says… The Saudi generated cycle of insanity continues. Reports that are hard to confirm or deny are circulating on social media, spreading a degree of panic and reactionary responses from all concerned. ‘Events in Saudi Arabia are unfolding at a blinding pace, with a radical shift taking place within the upper echelons of government. Last weekend, King Salman announced the set-up of a special anti-corruption force that wasted no time in rounding up more than a dozen government officials – both former and current – five members of the royal family, and several businessmen. Since then, the list has been growing, to more than 60 as of today.’ ~ Oil Price – Kingdom of Fear On fireworks night, Bahrain allegedly put out the following announcement: BREAKING: #Bahrain calls its nationals not to travel to #Lebanon and Bahraini residents there to leave immediately. pic.twitter.com/g5yjMh8Zpa — Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) November 5, 2017
Having legged higher at the opens of Asia, Europe, and US markets, WTI is extending gains overnight on middle-east tensions… Brent is trading above $62 amid anti-corruption drive led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which may consolidate his control in OPEC’s largest oil producer, and WTI has pushed above $57 as producers such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia signal they support a potential extension of OPEC output cuts.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 6, 2017.
It’s about time that I share with you all a little secret. The situation in the markets is much worse than you realize. While that may sound like someone who has been crying ‘wolf’ for the past several years, in all honesty, the public has no idea just how dire our present situation has become. The amount of debt, leverage, deceit, corruption, and fraud in the economic markets, financial system, and in the energy industry are off the charts. Unfortunately, the present condition is even much worse when we consider ‘INSIDER INFORMATION.’ What do I mean by insider information… I will explain that in a minute. However, I receive a lot of comments on my site and emails stating that the U. S. Dollar is A-okay and our domestic oil industry will continue pumping out cheap oil for quite some time. They say… ‘No need to worry. Business, as usual, will continue for the next 2-3 decades.’ I really wish that were true. Believe me, when I say this, I am not rooting for a collapse or breakdown of our economic and financial markets. However, the information, data, and facts that I have come across suggest that the U. S. and global economy will hit a brick wall within the next few years. How I Acquire My Information, Data & Facts To put out the original information in my articles and reports, I spend a great deal of time researching the internet on official websites, alternative media outlets, and various blogs. Some of the blogs that I read, I find more interesting information in the comment section than in the article. For example, the Peakoilbarrel.com site is visited by a lot of engineers and geologists in the oil and gas industry. Their comments provide important ‘on-hands insight’ in the energy sector not found on the Mainstream Media.
In this week’s MacroVoices podcast, Erik Townsend and Joe McMonigle, former chief of staff at the US Department of Energy, discuss the state of the global energy market, and OPEC’s rapidly diminishing ability to control oil prices. McMonigle believes investors will be hearing more jawboning from the Saudis, OPEC’s de-facto leader, over the next two weeks as they try to marshal support for extending the cartel’s production-cut agreement past a March 2018 deadline. Of course, anyone who’s been paying attention knows the cuts have done little to alleviate supply imbalances that have weighed on oil prices for years. In a report published by the International Energy Agency earlier this month, the organization notes that non-compliance among OPEC members, and non-members who also agreed to the cuts those non-members who also agreed to cut oil production, increased again in July. According to the IEA data, non-compliance among the cartel’s members rose to 25 percent in July, the highest level since the agreement was signed in January. Meanwhile, noncompliance for non-members rose to 33%.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 26, 2017.
The rights of the American people have been, and are being trampled into the dust, as the pseudo-representatives glut themselves from the trough of lobbyists and oligarchs alike. It could be proven, but won’t be proven: the investigating ‘authority’ is not accountable to the people and there is no oversight. The FBI, and any investigations under special counsel? Look at Fast and Furious and how the Attorney General’s office covered that one up. What is needed to prove it? Something that doesn’t exist. Here is what is needed: A team of spotless individuals with a leader of unquestionable character and service…with complete authority and impunity: unable to be hindered by any federal, state, or local police and army of ‘authorities.’ This Special Investigative Team would have the power to investigate fully any and all ties to Congressmen, Senators, and Supreme Court judges…to find evidence of bribery, kickbacks, and influence peddling…and then arrest them and bring them to trial. Everyone can jump up and down, desiring to boil in oil anyone making such a suggestion; however, without some kind of accountability, these elected officials are running rampant and trampling the rights of the citizens. Who is going to stop it? The courts? The courts are the biggest pack of crooks of all. Yes, ‘Your Honor,’ and ‘The Honorable,’ ad infinitum. I guarantee that a Special Investigator with impunity would have found plenty of coral snakes under Chief (in)Justice John Roberts’ front porch…if Obama and Holder had been made to step aside and an investigation had been done. This should have been done after he cast his deciding vote on Obamacare. Going back a few years, Obamacare would have never made it to the floor of the Senate if Olympia Snow (R, ME) had not allowed it to come up for a vote. Who paid her off? In order to follow the money, you have to be allowed to follow it: or you’ll just end up arrested or dead. The special unit of investigators I suggested? They need to be armed to the teeth, and they need giant, shiny badges that every human in the Western Hemisphere will recognize. And why not? It worked for Elliot Ness and his team. This won’t be done, of course, for one reason:
This post was published at shtfplan on August 7th, 2017.
In a desperate bid to survive its economic meltdown, Venezuela is lobbying other OPEC members to agree to steeper oil production cuts, a move that would likely lead to higher oil prices. Venezuelan officials have reached out to their counterparts in Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia to press them on more collective action, according to Argus Media. If there was enough interest, the next step would be an ‘extraordinary meeting,’ which would weigh the option of cutting deeper. The rumors about deeper OPEC cuts have been floating around since June, when oil prices collapsed into the low-$40s. The markets have grown deeply pessimistic about the health of the oil market, and doubt the OPEC cuts will balance the market by the end of the compliance period in March 2018. But the behind-the-scenes effort from Venezuelan officials is notable, if only because the South American OPEC members was one of the earliest and most aggressive supporters of the original deal to reduce output. In 2016, for months the more powerful members of the cartel rebuffed Venezuelan pleas, but in the end they agreed to reductions in November after oil prices continued to wallow below $50 per barrel.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 19, 2017.
New York City real estate, particularly the luxury market, is a popular refugee for world’s corrupt, self-dealing public servants and the crooked businessmen who bribe them. China cracked down on wealthy citizens seeking to stash their wealth in international real estate by adding several deterrents to its capital controls earlier this year (Among them, Chinese investors moving money out of the country must now sign a pledge saying it won’t be used to buy real estate, or investment securities). Shortly after, the New York real-estate – literally half a world away – was rattled by a crush of stalled deals. So, it’s unsurprising that the mystery behind the largest residential foreclosure auction in NYC history would have this kind of sordid backstory. Last month, we met Kola Aluko, a Nigerian oil magnate and the purported owner of One57’s Apartment 79, a $50 million apartment that will be sold next week in what appears to be the largest foreclosure auction in New York City history.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 16, 2017.
If you weren’t outraged before you certainly have reason to be now — both at Amazon and the press. First, Amazon. They’re now “offering” to anyone on welfare reduced-price “Prime” memberships. Let’s cut this down to size: There is utterly nothing that “Prime” offers that one can today, or should be able to now or in the future, buy with “food stamps” (electronic or not.) Prime’s “pantry” items are all, by definition (sorry folks, truly fresh food that is not laden with sugars and hydrogenated oils doesn’t ship well!) high carb trash. A big part of the reason we have a monstrous obesity epidemic in this country, especially among poor people, is that we stopped handing out literal government cheese (and eggs, meats, etc) as “food assistance” and went first to coupons and then to what are effectively prepaid debit cards. Yes, there are “some” restrictions (e.g. no booze purchases, etc) but if you look at what’s in a typical EBT shopper’s cart you will find things that will both make you fat and diabetic. True “government cheese”, when it was how food assistance was distributed, was both nutritious and did not promote obesity and metabolic dysfunction. Amazon today cannot take an EBT card. But they are lobbying to be allowed to, and if they are permitted to do so that will simply make the obesity and diabetes problem worse among the poor. Unless you support abusing poor people that standing alone is enough to cancel your PRIME membership and tell Amazon to **** off.
#protest now in #SoPaulo against #Brazil #Temer caught negotiating kickbacks & for direct elections in the country (photo: Dani Sampaio) pic.twitter.com/t4ojSzwyoe — ana cernov (@anacernov) May 18, 2017
The presidency of Brazil’s Michel Temer, who replaced disgraced and impeached predecessor Dilma Rouseff last summer, lasted about one year without a major corruption scandal. That changed tonight, when Brazil’s O Globo newspaper which was instrumental in exposing the Carwash scandal which ultimately led to Rouseff’s downfall and the arrest and incarceration of countless politicians, reported that the chairman of meatpacking giant JBS secretly recorded his discussion with Temer about “hush money” payments to jailed former House Speaker Eduardo Cunha in return for his silence. The allegations are the latest development in Operation Carwash, a sprawling corruption probe that has implicated many of Brazil’s business and political elite, including some in the president’s own party. Temer has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Readers may recall that in a delightfully ironic case study of political irony and power vacuum, Eduardo Cunha, the conservative Brazilian political leader who led the push in 2016 to oust Dilma Rousseff, was sentenced in March to more than 15 years in prison himself, when a Brazil judge found him guilty of corruption, money laundering and illegally sending money abroad, all in connection with the sprawling graft investigation involving the state-run oil company Petrobras, and which Cunha himself used as a pretext to dispose of Rouseff.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 18, 2017.
Goldman, which has been pushing for higher oil prices with seemingly daily bullish research reports for the past month, and which underwrote the last Saudi Arabian bond issue and is expected to also manage the Aramco IPO (explaining the bank’s conflict of interest), released a note commeting on the latest development in the oil market, which sent the price of crude higher by 3% after Saudi and Russia oil minister agreed to extend the OPEC production cuts by another 9 months through the end of Q1 2018. Specifically, Goldman writes that “today’s announcement will likely further extend the oil price rebound started last week on decent stock draws and low positioning, although the rally so far today has remained modest compared to the move that occurred last year when the OPEC cuts were first announced.” Even so, Goldman’s oil analyst Damien Courvalin had some caveats. Specifically, he said that for the strategy to work, however, two things have to take place: compliance needs to remain high and long-term oil prices need to remain low to prevent shale producers from ramping up investment significantly more. In fact, an extension of the cuts should go hand in hand with guidance of future production increases by low cost producers, in our view, with an already notable emphasis by Saudi and others that oil prices will likely remain in a $45-55/bbl long-term range, in line with our forecasts. This leaves us reiterating our 3Q17 $57/bbl Brent price forecast and, with an increasingly likely extension of the cuts, raises our confidence that the oil market will shift into backwardation in 3Q17. His full note below: Saudi and Russia commit to a 9-month extension of oil production cuts Saudi Arabia and Russia announced today, May 15, that they had reached an agreement to extend their oil output cuts for another nine months, through Mar-18. This announcement comes ahead of the scheduled May 25 meeting of OPEC members. Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih and his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak further pledged in a joint statement “to do whatever it takes” to reduce global inventories to their five-year average. In our view, this commitment to a longer than expected cut by the two largest participants of the output deal significantly increases the likelihood that all participants will agree to such an extension, with the longer duration likely helping to achieve high compliance through 2017.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 15, 2017.
In February 2000, the FOMC quietly switched from the CPI to the PCE Deflator as its standard for inflation measurement. There were various technical reasons for doing so, including the CPI’s employment of a geometric mean basis (which was in 2015 finally altered to a Constant Elasticity of Substitution formula). But it was one phrase that in hindsight did the Fed no favors, as it explicitly cited the expected fruits of the PCE Deflator’s methodology which would ‘avoid some of the upward bias associated with the fixed-weight nature of the CPI.’ I am not a conspiracist by any means, but there are times when you have to shake your head as these economists lack even a modicum of self-awareness. The central bank has been given a legal mandate for price stability, so the average American might wonder why that central bank is allowed to choose the measure most inherently stable (and low). At the very least, it seems like a conflict of interest, one among so many. In that regard, the last five years have been almost fitting. The PCE Deflator has, as expected, avoided the higher beta tendencies of the CPI and in both directions. For that, it has remained stable, alright, but stable below target no matter what the Fed does with its own balance sheet. I hope the irony is not lost on them, especially as it was oil prices that ‘achieved’ what they could not despite considerable expenditure on their part.
This is part I of a 3-part series introducing Plunger’s ‘Trade of the Year’. This section gives a review of the oil price from 1946 to present explaining the essential forces which powered its price through various bull and bear markets. It explains how we ended up where we are today in the oil market. Part II will explore the macro forces driving today’s economy which lays the groundwork for introducing my trade of the year in part III. To acquire a broader view of oils path over the past century I highly recommend the following resources on the oil market. Daniel Yergin’s ‘The Prize’ is an in-depth review of the history of oil up to the First Gulf war. It is indispensable in understanding the growth of the industry. Other books provide entertaining color to the industry by reviewing the swashbuckling nature of the early players who formed the industry as independents. I recommend ‘The Big Rich’ by Bryan Burrough and JP Getty’s autobiography ‘The Way I See It’. Finally, David Stockman’s ‘The Great Deformation’ is essential reading as it corrects all the false economic narratives of the past which have been masquerading as truth.
This post was published at GoldSeek on 17 April 2017.
News coming out of Venezuela over the past two years has reeked of corruption and failed political leadership: a long list of shortages, rampant poverty, incrimination of the opposition, and a recent move that puts the regime of Nicolas Maduro one step closer to a dictatorship. And these are only the developments that are recorded, with a recent LA Times Op-Ed suggesting that a Venezuelan homicide epidemic rages ‘unreported’ due to the country’s scrapping of crime statistics reporting over a decade ago. Despite all of this, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) expects Venezuela, endowed with the world’s largest oil reserves (depending on who you ask), to play a major role in the cartel’s plan to curb global supply. In OPEC’s November agreement, Venezuela accounted for almost 10 percent of the net supply cut from member nations (calculated as cuts minus allotted increases)
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 11, 2017.
In the hint that members of Trump’s administration may be “compromised” by conflicts of interest, the WSJ reports that Trump’s pick for Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross Jr, plans to keep millions of dollars invested in offshore entities “whose values could be affected by policies that he implements as commerce secretary.” Ross, the 79-year-old private-equity billionaire has said that if he is confirmed, he will sell at least 80 business assets and investment funds over the next several months. But he plans to hold on to investments in an oil-tanker company and 10 other entities that invest in shipping and real-estate financing, according to federal financial-disclosure and ethics filings. It isn’t clear why Mr. Ross is retaining these 11 assets. One particular assets which will raise eyebrows is a co-investment with the Chinese government’s sovereign- wealth fund in Diamond S Shipping Group Inc., one of the world’s largest owners and operators of medium-range oil tankers, according to its website. Ross’s private-equity firm in 2011 led a group of investors, including state-owned China Investment Corp., which injected a total of about $1 billion into the company. The Chinese fund was still a co-investor in 2014, according to a filing for an intended public offering that was later canceled. Diamond S Shipping Group, which is registered offshore but based in Greenwich, Conn., is private and doesn’t publicly list all its shareholders. The company, which has 33 tankers, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 13, 2017.