Last week Friday, Oil finished higher after oil traders weighed on the de-escalation in the strain between the U.S. and China, and a significant drop in U.S. oil rigs (which is an indicator for declines in U.S oil production). However, some events occurred during the week, which should be a cause for concern for the bullish momentum.
The United States is facing a national crisis with the most significant number of coronavirus cases globally, the worst unemployment levels seen in decades, and massive crowd protests from state to state by their citizens. The downside to this downside is the possibility of a second wave of infections as social distancing seems to be thrown out of the window for mass protests. Furthermore, if protests and riots continue, business activity will likely collapse and would most likely hurt demand as the United States is the largest oil consumer in the world.
On the supply front, prices also declined mid-week as the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a large crude oil inventory draw of 8.731 million barrels for the week ending May 22. These figures deviated from the prediction of 2.50 million barrels by analysts. In the past weeks, buoyed by the rise in oil prices, some Energy producers in the U.S hinted on resuming production, which only adds more supply to the market. It would be counterproductive for Shale companies to boost output now as most companies “need prices at least in the low $40s per barrel to cover direct costs”, according to Ian Nieboer, who happens to be a managing director at consultant Enverus. Prices in this range we are at does not help the cause. The CEO of Parsley, CEO Matt Gallagher, confirmed in an interview weeks ago that “Currently the world does not need more of our product and defends the need for his company to put a hold on drilling”.
Last week Friday, Oil prices edged lower at the morning session after the EIA data showed weak fuel demand in the world’s largest oil-consuming country. Christopher Louney, an RBC Capital Markets analyst, said in a statement that “the previous weekend which happened to be Memorial Day weekend did not bring motorists out in large numbers like many market bulls were hoping.” Fuel demand remained limp, albeit various states lifting travel restrictions and lockdowns.
Another plausible way the United States can hurt prices is by hurting China. There were some sharp declines in prices noticed last week after palpable tensions between the two superpowers. Although the Oil bulls were boosted on Friday as Trump’s press conference did not indicate the U.S reneging on the trade deal with China. However, this does not signify a conclusion on the tensions between the two nations, and a possible escalation is still on the cards if China reacts to the impending sanctions meted by the United States. Early Monday morning, some reports suggest China has put a halt on some U.S. farm imports, which impacted U.S. stocks and European stocks. The report by Bloomberg News reported that China told state-run companies to pause purchases of U.S. products, including soybeans, as pork product orders were also canceled. This impasse reminds me of how oil became volatile last year before we got a “phase 1 deal” between both nations. Now is not the time for economic wars, the virus is already enough on our hands.
Conclusively, the United States wants higher prices, but their internal energy industry and policies might weigh on oil futures prices. Oil recovery has a long way to go. Just a reminder that the lack of storage facilities last month caused us to witness negative prices for the first time in history, and the U.S infatuation with shale oil and drilling new wells is why we might never see our beloved $100 oil again.