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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oil Update

What an interesting turn of events overnight. First, OPEC cut its production by 500,000 barrels a day. At least, that’s what they said, though Saudi Arabia said it’s not planning to reduce its production. You can see why the market takes this cutback talk with a grain of salt.

Then, the IEA cut its oil demand growth forecast – not by much, but enough to add credence to a global slowdown theory.

And then this morning, we got the Weekly Petroleum Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

  1. U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 5.9 million barrels from the previous week. That’s a much bigger drop than the 3.9 million barrel-drop that was expected.
  2. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 6.5 million barrels last week – bigger than the 4.7 million barrel drop that was expected.
  3. Refineries operated at 78.3 percent of their operable capacity last week – higher than the 74.2% that was expected.
  4. Distillates, used to make heating oil and diesel fuel, declined by 1.2 million barrels. Analysts were looking for a drop of 2.3 million barrels.

So what can we take away from this? I think that U.S. consumer demand for gasoline is stronger that people think, certainly stronger than the last couple months would have you believe, for the simple reason that prices are going down.

However, the market doesn’t care – oil prices are down as I write this. That’s because sentiment has become extremely bearish. And we still have to receive one more month of data (July’s) that should show declining consumer demand for gasoline.

So, I think we’ll still test $100 per barrel. Saudi Arabia doesn’t seem especially concerned, so maybe we will get to $95 or even $90. We’ll revisit potential buying opportunities at that time.

Here are some other things you may want to read.

The latest International Petroleum Monthly from the EIA is out, and the EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook.

As is the IEA Oil Market Report for September,

Highlights …

August global oil supply fell by 1.0 mb/d to 86.8 mb/d on North Sea maintenance, the BTC pipeline outage and lower OPEC supply. Non-OPEC output is revised by -180 kb/d for 2008 and by -85 kb/d for 2009, with hurricane outages impeding 2H08 supply. Non-OPEC growth including OPEC NGL is now 580 kb/d in 2008 and 1.56 mb/d in 2009.

Forecast global oil demand has been lowered for both 2008 and 2009, following weaker deliveries in the OECD. World demand averages 86.8 mb/d in 2008 (+0.8% or +0.7 mb/d versus 2007 and 100 kb/d lower than previously estimated) and 87.6 mb/d in 2009 (+1.0% or +0.9 mb/d year-on-year and 140 kb/d lower than in our last report).

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