Thursday, December 25, 2014

Big Oil not so powerful as gas prices fall, Consumers finally get a break.

I haven't seen the kind of analysis I thought I'd see regarding plummeting gas prices at the pump. I like it a lot, and consumers now have a little extra money to spend elsewhere. But we should also be doing whatever we can to decrease our use of oil once and for all.

The questions...so many questions, and the uneasy feeling that Big Oil has been playing us for complete idiots. Perhaps they didn't think the Middle East would try a stunt like this.
Vladimir Putin faces a catastrophic shortfall of at least $80bn (£51bn) in oil export revenue over the next year, after Opec kingpin Saudi Arabia signalled there will be no easing in the price war it has launched to recapture market share. Russia’s finance minister warned before Opec gathered on November 27 that the country faced an economic crisis from the loss of revenue incurred from falling oil prices.
But oil revenues are a big part of our economy now, and will become even bigger if we make it easier to export oil via the Gulf Coast, the whole reason behind building the Keystone XL Pipeline. This is an oil boom, not a switch over to green energy unfortunately. Not only will big oil lose money due to plummeting prices, but thousands of jobs will disappear as well, punching a hole in local state economies.

We're now getting used to plentiful gas supplies and low prices, what we call energy independence. Sounds a like Russia's problem, a place we don't want to be. The energy shakedown is happening right now. For instance:
British Petroleum announced Wednesday it will cut thousands of jobs worldwide, in addition to a previously announced $2 billion cut in its operating budget and a fire sale of $43 billion worth of assets (most of them in the US fracking patch). BP disclosed that over the next 18 months it will spend a billion dollars on “restructuring.”   

Goodrich Petroleum announced Wednesday it is exploring the sale of “some or all” of its shale-oil assets in the Eagle Ford play in Texas, the second-largest contributor to the country’s shale oil “boom.” Goodrich also said it will make a drastic cut in 2015 capital expenditures.
 According to Bloomberg News, the industry now expects 400 of the 1848 US onshore oil rigs now operating to be idled by next year. Another 200 new rigs, under construction for delivery next year, are now expected to have nothing to do. North Dakota state officials said Friday that oil production in October declined by about 4,000 barrels per day. Oasis Petroleum, one of the large operators in North Dakota, announced Wednesday that it would drop from 16 drilling rigs to six rigs. On Friday, stock prices for the 10 largest publicly traded oil companies with North Dakota operations were down by an average of 51 percent over three months.

Rigs targeting oil in the U.S. will drop below 1,100 for the first time in three years as drillers pull out of fields made unprofitable by a 43 percent plunge in crude prices. According to the energy data and analytics company Genscape, the oil count is set to drop by almost 600 rigs over the next eight months, bottoming out at 1,073 in August.
And what of Wall Street? Possible problems are rising up:
Also vulnerable are highly leveraged North American oil and gas producers. Energy companies issued junk debt with abandon in recent years. Strained financial conditions may force weak energy producers and service companies to divest properties or sell themselves, yet buyers are likely to be scarce until energy prices stabilize. Since June, they have pulled $22 billion from junk-bond funds as they begin to realize they were further out on the risk curve than they wanted. 

If a full-blown global financial crisis unfolds, along with an accompanying worldwide recession, investment strategy will no doubt shift from the current “risk on” stance to “risk off.” In that scenario, you would expect to see a rush into the safety of Treasury bonds and the U.S. dollar and a stampede out of commodities and stocks globally.

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