Skip to comments.How the U.S. Shale Boom Is Splitting OPEC Apart
Posted on 10/26/2013 7:46:56 PM PDT by ckilmer
For decades, OPEC nations have, for the most part, enjoyed a good living. As long as oil prices remain high, they can recover billions of barrels of oil at relatively low cost and sell it to the rest of the oil-thirsty world.
But the North American shale oil boom is shaking things up for the cartel. In fact, the surge in U.S. and Canadian oil production resulting from the application of new drilling technologies threatens to reduce OPEC's share of the global oil market this year to its lowest level in more than a decade.
Does that imply gloom and doom for all OPEC countries? Hardly. That's because the impact of the North American energy boom isn't spread evenly among the group. While some members may only experience a slight financial impact, others could be in big trouble. Let's take a closer look.
A tale of two OPEC members To explore this growing divide within OPEC, perhaps no two member countries offer examples as polarized as Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.
The kingdom is clearly the top dog; it produced nearly 10 million barrels of crude oil per day last year, making it the second-leading global producer, behind only Russia. Indeed, Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia's oil minister and OPEC's de facto leader, recently said that Saudi Arabia welcomes the U.S. shale oil boom because the supply increase could help stabilize the global oil market.
But the Nigerians aren't so upbeat. And rightfully so. At a conference in the nation's capital city of Abuja earlier this year, officials expressed grave concerns about the country's falling oil exports. "Shale oil and the increase in their gas production is already affecting our exports to the United States," said Diezani Alison-Madueke, the nation's oil minister.
Indeed, Nigerian crude oil exports to the U.S. have plunged by about 50% since July 2010, displaced by oil of a similar quality gushing from U.S. shale plays such as North Dakota's Bakken, where companies continue to report staggering growth in production.
Kodiak Oil & Gas (NYSE: KOG ) , an oil and gas junior with operations focused almost exclusively in the Bakken, said its oil production grew by 250% last year, while Northern Oil & Gas (NYSEMKT: NOG ) and and Halcon Resources (NYSE: HK ) , two other Bakken-focused operators, saw output grow by 93.4% and 173.2%, respectively.
As a result of this surge in U.S. oil production, several refiners have virtually eliminated foreign imports of Nigerian light oil. For instance, Valero (NYSE: VLO ) has replaced all light oil imports with domestically produced oil at its Gulf Coast and Memphis refineries, while Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX ) recently said it expects to process 100% North American crudes at its refineries nationwide within "a couple of years."
OPEC's varying production costs But that's not all. Not only is Nigeria at risk because of plummeting crude exports, but it's also not nearly as well equipped as Saudi Arabia to handle lower oil prices. That's because breakeven costs of oil production vary widely within the cartel, with some countries able to get by with much lower oil prices than others.
According to estimates by PFC Energy, a Washington-based energy research and consulting firm, Nigeria requires an average price of $87 a barrel to fund its import bill this year, while Saudi Arabia needs to fetch just under $70 a barrel to make ends meet.
Given that oil and gas exports account for roughly 80% of Nigeria's government revenues and more than 90% of foreign exchange earnings, that leaves Nigeria extremely vulnerable to a sharp and sustained decline in global crude oil prices. In fact, the IMF recently noted that if oil prices fall to between $80 and $85 per barrel (as an annual average), it would wipe out Nigeria's Excess Crude Account balances within a year.
But that's not to say the Saudis wouldn't be hurt from a sustained decline in oil prices, either. While they're less vulnerable because of lower breakeven costs, their petroleum sector still accounts for roughly 80% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. Indeed, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holdings and nephew of King Abdullah, has warned that excessive reliance on oil revenues makes the kingdom particularly vulnerable to oil price shocks.
"If the price of oil was to decline to US$78 a barrel there will be a gap in our budget, and we will either have to borrow or tap our reserves," he said. "Saudi Arabia has SAR2.5 trillion in external reserves, and unfortunately, the return on this is 1 to 1.5 percent. We are still a nation that depends on the oil and this is wrong and dangerous."
The bottom line The U.S. shale revolution is exacerbating an existing divide between OPEC member countries. While Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have the financial resources to cope with lower oil prices, countries such as Nigeria and Angola desperately need high oil prices to balance their national budgets. Yet no OPEC member, not even Saudi Arabia, is immune to a sustained oil-price collapse.
Saudi Arabia is not America’s friend.
Due to their recent squacking, I’d guess Saidu Arabia is getting hit harder than this article implies.
None of these oil-producing extortionists have any sympathy from me. Let them rot.
I would like to see the Saudi’s eat their damned oil.Now the Western oil exporting countries should return the favor and destroy the OPEC cartel nation economies.
Lets see if Allah bails them out.
PING for comments.
I sure do wish that with all this oil/gasoline being produced in the US they would get our prices at the pump down. The cost of operating our vehicles is way too high - at least for me and everyone I know.
Yep...all of the mixed economic data that leaves it overall stagnant indicates it is economy that wants to boom...it just can’t due to Obama’s policies which damage the economy.
So this could impact the Saudi’s mosque/terrorist training site building fund?
This is good news.
Not till prices fall below $70-$80@barrel.
Right now. I’m not so sure that falling prices are advantageous to the USA. Because as long as oil prices remain high, oil production will rise really really fast—as it is now by 1 million barrels @ day per year.
That is, right now the most important thing is for the USA to become energy independent.
Once energy independence is gained, then its time to start forcing the price of oil down. That’s about 5 years out.
Actually, oil prices are set internationally. For now, rising US production and falling demand—is being met internationally by falling production and rising demand.
So energy supply and demand are roughly in balance.
Let them eat their sand and camel dung...
Freaking retrograde bearded savages...
Nigeria needs to persue contracts with China
Venezuela owns 100% of Citgo and has their own captive refineries in the USA (Corpus Christi, TX, Lake Charles, LA, Lemont, IL).
He better appoint Algore as Stifle Czar real quick before the U.S. becomes (gasp) energy independent.
...the surge in U.S. and Canadian oil production resulting from the application of new drilling technologies threatens to reduce OPEC's share of the global oil market this year to its lowest level in more than a decade... While some members may only experience a slight financial impact, others could be in big trouble... Saudi Arabia... produced nearly 10 million barrels of crude oil per day last year, making it the second-leading global producer, behind only Russia... Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia's oil minister and OPEC's de facto leader, recently said that Saudi Arabia welcomes the U.S. shale oil boom because the supply increase could help stabilize the global oil market... Nigerians... expressed grave concerns about the country's falling oil exports... requires an average price of $87 a barrel to fund its import bill this year ...countries such as Nigeria and Angola desperately need high oil prices to balance their national budgets. Yet no OPEC member, not even Saudi Arabia, is immune to a sustained oil-price collapse.P.J. O'Rourke (writing in "Automobile" magazine years ago) noted that the entire non-petroleum exports of the OPEC nations in the Middle East, combined, don't equal Finland's. I'm sure that hasn't improved with age.