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Newsletter December 2016

MARKET VOLATILITY - OPEC CAVES IN & CUTS OIL PRODUCTION

OPEC agreed to cut production among its 13 members by 1.2 million barrels a day from the current 33.6 million barrels. The agreed upon reduction would reduce global output by about 1%, easing high levels of supplies. Domestically, the U.S. Energy Administration reported that U.S. stockpiles of oil shrank by 884,000 barrels in the final week of November.  The price of WTI, the benchmark for domestic crude oil, ended in November at $49.17 per barrel.

Since supply and demand are the primary determinants in setting oil prices, OPEC’s production cuts along with less supply in the U.S. are expected to shore up the price of oil. In addition, the anticipated growth generated from any economic expansion in the U.S. and abroad may increase demand for the commodity, adding pricing pressure as well. The crude oil benchmark WTI was up over 50% at the end of November from January 2016.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest oil producer, launched an aggressive campaign against U.S. oil drillers two years ago by continuing to produce oil at record levels in order to maintain and build upon its market share. Saudi Arabia’s relentless approach to put U.S. shale drillers out of business is an indication of how serious a threat U.S. oil production has become to OPEC and its members. The U.S. shale industry, known for its fracking technology to extract oil from shale rock formations, has continued to surprise the world oil markets with its resistance to low prices. U.S. drillers have thus far been able to beat Saudi Arabia’s “pump and dump” strategy of lower oil prices in order to maintain market share.

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Sources: EIA, Worldbank, OPEC