Skip to comments.Could oil prices skyrocket to $200 a barrel … or more?
Posted on 07/24/2018 6:42:28 AM PDT by yesthatjallen
Its summer. Its hot. We all want to go on vacation. But for those of us who watch the oil market, theres a nagging feeling that we wont get to read that trashy novel on the beach, because oil prices are ready to explode.
Whos to blame?
Top of the list is Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who, on Sunday, warned the United States that conflict with the Islamic Republic would be the mother of all wars. Additionally, Rouhanis comment that We have always guaranteed the security of the Strait of Hormuz the comparatively narrow waterway from the Persian Gulf into the Indian Ocean, through which 40 percent of the worlds oil exports pass was regarded as endorsing, rather than contradicting, Iranian threats to actually close the strait.
Rouhanis words prompted President Trump to tweet his own warning, in capital letters.
Unsurprisingly, oil prices initially were up Monday but, at the time of this writing, had fallen below last Friday's close. West Texas Intermediate, the significant market indicator, remained below $70 per barrel.
Still, a new analysis has aroused other concerns. Veteran oil market-watcher Philip K. Verleger released a report from his firm, PKVerleger LLC, anticipating oil prices at $200, with the possibility of a surge to $400 per barrel, in the next 12 to 18 months.
Verlegers focus was on an esoteric lack of diesel fuel, rather than geopolitical threats exchanged between Rouhani and Trump. But his analysis cannot be dismissed lightly. Refineries across the world are having to recalibrate to produce low-sulphur diesel to meet new environmental regulations, prompting shortages that can push prices up.
For those perplexed by the functioning of oil markets, here are a few guidelines to work out what is important:
Geopolitics: This is the fancy term for wars and crises. If the war is in the Middle East, this can be bad for oil markets, although the carnage of recent years in Syria and Yemen has been, in market terms, just background noise. The market can probably cope with reduced or even zero Iranian oil exports but if Saudi exports were cut back, the impact would be bad.
All the talk about the Strait of Hormuz is, to my mind, a distraction: The inbound and outbound shipping lanes actually lie in Omani territorial waters; if Iran threatened tankers militarily (floating mines or fast boats are the obvious options), the U.S. Fifth Fleet, with the support of U.S. allies, would respond promptly and forcefully. I suspect Iran would prefer tactics where its fingerprints are less obvious such as sabotaging Saudi or Bahraini oil installations, or encouraging insurrection by Shia Muslim communities in these countries.
OPEC and OPEC-Plus: Oil-exporting countries like high prices, which give them more money to spend at home (or in the south of France and similar places). A couple of years ago we may have thought that we had said goodbye to the Saudi-led cartel, but Riyadh teamed up with Moscow (hence OPEC-Plus) to restrain production, and especially to run down large stockpiles. The result is the current pricing. So far, recent talk of increasing production so that prices dont go too high has been just talk.
Economics: Growth is good overall but it also increases demand for energy, thereby prompting price increases. Currently, the world economy is growing nicely; hence, the oil price increases of recent months. The growing prospect of a tariff war between the United States and China introduces a major uncertainty, which is bad for economic growth.
Technical factors: This is geek-speak for refinery and pipeline constraints. A barrel of crude oil is unusable as such; it needs to be subjected to fractional distillation in a refinery, producing diesel, gasoline, heavy fuel oil and a range of non-transport products, some even used in pharmaceuticals. The demand for each product is different and the various fractions cannot be adjusted significantly. A particular U.S. concern is pipeline availability; some of the new shale oil cannot be sent to refineries because there are not enough pipelines. And no one apparently wants a new pipeline route to go anywhere near their backyard.
So, plenty of possible threats exist to any practical calm in the oil markets which, additionally, are worldwide, rather than regional. (Minor price differences between the United States, Europe and Asia reflect varying qualities of crude oil and distances from principal markets.)
The markets are sophisticated enough to absorb small amounts of bad news and presidential tweets but, like most us, dont like uncertainty. Current political rhetoric is not helpful. Its almost as if the story line from the trashy novel we wanted to read has become real life.
Higher gas prices not only hit hard but engender anger and finding someone to blame.
If oil prices rise will the MSM and Democrats try to pin it on Trumps' polices?
That's a good one, almost had me.
We are producing more oil than ever. Why should prices go up?
If some volcano erupts in Malaysia the Democrats will try and blame it on Trump’s policies.
Its’ who they are. It’s what they do.
Beware of hyperventilating stories that were planted by commodities traders.
There's $100 bbl ceiling built in by the markets, given current U.S. production levels.
Iran can supply China, who, in turn, can assist with their refining shortfall.
“We are producing more oil than ever. Why should prices go up?”
After Trump called out Iran yesterday, oil prices went DOWN! TDS is wearing thin.
Doom porn. It is illogical that the price of crude will skyrocket because there is a production shortage of diesel.
Trump will explode if the gas prices go up even 10 cents. This article is pure mental masturbation. Oil prices $200 a barrel. Ridiculous.
Exactly. If there is a constraint on refining capacity for fuel, this would be seen as a rise in FUEL prices (due to the shortage) and a decline in OIL prices (due to the glut of oil that can't be refined).
They don’t have that claim that Bush’s oil buddies are profiting.
Could oil prices skyrocket to $200 a barrel or more?
Sure it "could" rise to $200. Sure it "could" rise to even more.
It "could" also go down to $0. It "could" go to -$200, where I'm paid to take a barrel. Or even lower than -$200, to take a barrel.
Not likely from a statistical perspective, but the enemedia couldn't care less when writing an article of doom (AOD).
I see..just substitute the NYslimes and Washington COMpost with The Hill...ALL FAKENEWS all of the time!!
To bad you are left out. You could buy oil stocks but I suppose you failed to do that and whine about Bush instead
I guess you didn’t see that Trump got the Keystone and other pipelines moving.
Obama is the one that thwarted energy production.
Trump is correcting Obama’s terrible anti-Energy actions.
Liberal scare tactics leading up to an election.
not with us producing our own.
Close down the gulf oil traffic through the strait and watch how fast things get very bad for you...
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.