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Oil Dips as 2019 Ends; Big Gains on Year

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Oil Dips
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Investing.com – Oil prices fell on the last day of 2019, but still rounded the year out with the biggest annual gains in three. A rebound forecast in U.S. shale crude production could, however, pose greater challenges for the market in 2020.

New York-traded , the U.S. crude benchmark, settled down 62 cents, or 1.0%, at $61.06 per barrel. Despite that drop, WTI rose 11% for December, its largest monthly gain since January.

London-traded , the global oil benchmark, settled down 67 cents, or 1%, at $66.65 per barrel. Notwithstanding Tuesday’s slide, the U.K. crude standard settled up 7% for December, its largest monthly advance since April.

For the year, WTI rose 34% while Brent had a 24% gain, the biggest annual gains since 2016 for both benchmarks.

Oil’s 2019 rally was largely helped by production cuts carried out by OPEC. Since January, the Saudi-led OPEC, joined by its ally Russia under the OPEC+ alliance, has tried to observe a daily production cut of 1.2 million barrels. In December, as that arrangement was about to expire, OPEC+ said it would deepen those cuts to 2.1 million barrels per day from the start of 2020.

Despite its plan for stiffer production cuts, OPEC+ could have a tougher time keeping oil prices up in 2020 as U.S. shale oil output could rebound next year, some long-time traders in oil said.

While production as a whole hit a record high of 12.9 million barrels per day in 2019, shale oil output, which accounts for more than half of U.S. total production, has been somewhat restrained this year. U.S. crude producers as a whole cut the number of in the country to 677 this year from 885 at the end of 2018, a drop of 208 rigs, or 24%.

“The main reason for the 24% cutback in actively-drilling U.S. oil rigs this year was the price uncertainty that persisted midyear,” said John Kilduff, founding partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital. WTI hovered between $50 and $55 during most of the summer months, weighing on the broader oil market.

Kilduff said with the OPEC decision to double down on production cuts taking effect only in early December, it will take U.S. drillers some time to turn their spigots back on in full and plow ahead with production.

“With oil prices being the way they are, one can bet on more challenges ahead for production,” Kilduff added. “WTI at above $60 is very, very remunerable to U.S. shale. OPEC will have to take a lot more off the market to face that wall of shale supply headed the global market’s way.”

Non-OPEC oil supply, led by the U.S. shale, is forecast to grow by 2.1 million barrels a day in 2020, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA).

Global demand for oil, meanwhile, is set to increase by 1.2 million barrels a day next year, the EIA said.

That means the world will need 900,000 fewer barrels of oil every day from both OPEC and non-OPEC producers alike, a situation that could sharply offset OPEC+ production cuts.

For the bulls, the coming year may still have a positive start from the phase one of the U.S.-China trade deal, which, according to a tweet by President Donald Trump on Tuesday, will be signed on Jan. 15. Yet, the positive impact of that deal could just be fleeting if U.S. crude production starts ramping up strongly.

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Alberta exempts energy companies drilling wells or building pipelines from property taxes for three years – Edmonton Journal

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But the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) warned that the models under considerationwould cause “potentially devastating impacts on rural Alberta” and could cost rural municipalities more than $290 million in 2021 alone.

Allard said Monday the government would not be choosing any of those previous models.

Instead the government estimates its three-year plan will save the industry between $81 and $84 million.

“These measures are intended to provide much needed certainty to industry investors, municipalities, and other taxpayers for the next three years,” Allard said.

Meanwhile, Allard said the government will be startinga longer-term review of the system, including the ongoing issue of energy companies’ unpaid property taxes.

Tim McMillan, president and CEO of Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the property assessment values being used under the current system are not accurate so he doesn’t view the changes for the next three years as a tax break.

“This is an interim measure, as we’re working to correct a broader system issue that has built up over a very long period of time,” he said.

RMA president Al Kemmere said he hasn’t crunched the numbers yet to see exactly how much municipalities will lose under this plan but said it will be “nowhere near what we were looking at under the proposals.” He said he believes members of the association are willing to do their part.

Kemmere saidunpaid taxes continues to be his organization’s top priority and that some members are on the cusp of not being able to pay their bills. Municipalities estimate they are owed approximately $173-million.

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OPEC Is On The Brink Of A Crisis – OilPrice.com

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OPEC+ Is On The Brink Of A Crisis | OilPrice.com

Cyril Widdershoven

Dr. Cyril Widdershoven is a long-time observer of the global energy market. Presently, he holds several advisory positions with international think tanks in the Middle…

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    The OPEC+ member countries are on the brink of a financial crisis if the latest assessments of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are accurate. The IMF has presented a very bleak outlook for an economic recovery in the Middle East and Central Asia, predicting a 4.1% contraction for the region. The main driving factor behind this bearish outlook is the IMF’s forecast that oil prices will remain in the $40 to $50 range in 2021. An extension of the current low oil price environment for another year would badly hurt oil and gas exporting countries, which includes all of the OPEC+ members. In its statement, the IMF predicted an economic contraction of 2.8% in April for the Middle East and Central Asia. IMF director Jihad Azour highlighted a large disparity in the projected economic loss of oil-importing and exporting countries, forecasting a negative 6.6% growth for oil-exporting countries, compared to a contraction of 1.3% for oil-importing countries. With many of the OPEC+ members being rentier-states, the need for higher oil prices cannot be overstated. A vast part of the government budgets of OPEC member states depends on oil and gas-related revenues. As such, all OPEC countries are looking at significant budget deficits this year, especially Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait. Former OPEC member Qatar is in a similar situation, even as it tries to mitigate the damage by increasing its LNG exports. As both oil and gas demand has seen significant demand destruction this year, prices for both have plunged. At present, Brent oil prices are still 40% below their pre-COVID levels.  There is little hope of a significant rise in prices any time soon as global oil and gas storage volumes are still at historically high levels, and demand looks set to dip again due to new COVID-related lockdowns and a further economic recession. The frequently cited breakeven price for the Saudi government budget is $80 per barrel, although Saudi government budget discussions seem to revolve around an oil price of $50. Iraq has also stated that it expects price levels of $50 per barrel for 2021. These optimistic predictions seem to be based solely on Chinese post-Covid economic figures, which have proven to be highly untrustworthy and don’t take into account the fact that global demand for Chinese products will also need to pick up. The impact of the second wave of COVID cases in Europe and America will undoubtedly hurt this demand for Chinese goods. Related: Biden’s $2 Trillion Energy Plan Could Crush Natural Gas

    But of all the parties that will suffer from low oil prices and the continued impact of a global pandemic, OPEC+ members will suffer the most. Some oil and gas producers were already in a dire financial situation before COVID, including Libya and Venezuela. The major oil market contango and storage glut has been largely overlooked recently, but it still very much exists. Reports of demand recovery in some markets appear to be more wishful thinking spurred by multi-trillion-dollar cash injections rather than a viable economic recovery. OPEC and the IEA both agree that demand is still fledgling, having both cut world oil demand forecasts. The IEA cut its outlook for worldwide oil demand to 91.7 million barrels per day this year while OPEC brought its forecast down to 90.2 million in 2020. OPEC reiterated that future cuts could still be made.

    With the financial environment outlined above, OPEC+ members can no longer afford to base their economic stability and future on hydrocarbons alone. Economic diversification has to be put in place, even if the effects won’t be felt for years. Government budget cuts are imminent and could destabilize the region if not done prudently. OPEC+ discussions on stabilizing the market should not be focused at present on price levels or market share only. The real question is how to create a market that is resilient enough to cope with Black Swan events without toppling the current ruling elite. Instability is not only increasing in the Arab producer regions, but also in Russia where sanctions and low oil prices are taking their toll.

    OPEC+ members cannot simply bet on the death of U.S. shale as it is an industry that has proven incredibly hard to kill over the years. U.S. shale will almost certainly reemerge, possibly in a different form, but it is reasonable to assume the sector itself is far from dead. Leaders in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Moscow, and Kuwait City now have to find a way to survive. With oil at $50 per barrel in 2021, some OPEC members will be in a real crisis. With that in mind, a conventional OPEC+ JMMC statement today or tomorrow will be seen by some as a white flag.

    By Cyril Widdershoven for Oilprice.com

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