Drill, Baby, Drill: Oil Prices Are Still Headed Higher.
Today I want to focus again on oil prices. It seems that some TV pundits have never heard (with apologies to Alexander Pope) that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Some people on Wall Street believe that by scaring the individual investor they stand to make a greater profit for themselves.
Over the summer, there was a report issued by Credit Suisse that said that oil could hit $50 a barrel. We’ve also seen predictions on CNBC saying $40 a barrel. Others think that oil prices could fall even go further.
What I am telling you now is that these views do not reflect the actual market or the new reality we find ourselves in today.
A lot of this sentiment stems from the idea that we have now increased supplies in the United States. Some political candidates even said that they guaranteed “$2.50? per gallon gasoline if they were elected.
“Drill, baby, drill” has become something of a national catchphrase.
The problem is that prices are not just reflective of new supplies, either too much or too little. By focusing only on how much is there, these analysts provide a fundamentally distorted view of the oil market.
Yes, the rise of new sources has altered the picture. But so has the rise in demand globally and at a rate much faster than anticipated.
In fact, the impact of unconventional oil (like our huge sources of shale oil) is now projected to be less than expected, even with additional volume coming on line.
And one report issued last week reflects that fundamental view and explains why oil prices are set to rise, not fall in this age of expanded unconventional oil and gas.
They are regarded as the top energy research company in the world by their institutional investors. They’re in 40 countries. They win awards every year for having the best analysts in the sectors they cover.
And they are very successful in their forward focus because they emphasize the fundamentals.
Last week, Bernstein Research released a detailed report reflecting the position I have been holding for some time – oil prices are headed higher.
And that’s just the average price. Spikes will carry it much higher.
The report also flatly dismisses the protracted effect some television pundits think is coming from shale oil. While it will have a much more pronounced result in North America, the unconventional will have a more subdued effect on prices elsewhere in the world.
The estimate is that the overall impact of the “new oil” will comprise only 3.2% of worldwide supply at the beginning of the next decade, with most of that being in the U.S. market.
Remember, this is a global market.
Global demand and availability determines price, with that price translated to the market by the dominant benchmarks – Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI).
This is not simply a question of how much supply is available. Three more fundamental factors influencing an upward price move.
Second, the presence of shale oil does offset supply concerns in North America. But it also does so by increasing the overall cost of production. The market effect per barrel of shale oil extracted will still increase the price of the crude. The cost of producing that barrel and the associated to-market costs is known as the marginal price of oil.
In fact, Bernstein Research says that the average marginal cost of oil around the world today is $92 a barrel, and is set to rise because it is more expensive to lift, process, refine, and distribute these new sources of crude oil.
Finally, the pricing dynamic is also about the regionalization of supply for both crude and refined oil products. As we move toward 2015 and beyond, the demand curve will dictate pricing premiums for regions where imbalances of supply are present.
The prospect is there for new sources, but the costs being passed down the line are extraordinarily high.
Of course, it still makes sense to one way of looking at oil – the “simple is as simple does” approach.
Simply put, oil prices are on the rise.
Dr. Kent Moors
Contributing Editor, Money Morning
Publisher’s Note: This article originally appeared in Money Morning (USA)
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