Why Saudi Arabia’s Crackdown Sent Oil Prices Soaring

A power-play by the most powerful man in Saudi Arabia took place over the weekend, with big repercussions for the future of the country that is OPEC’s de factor leader and the world’s second-largest oil producer. Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and heir to King Salman, was granted control over a wide-ranging anti-corruption committee last week, and immediately used his new power to consolidate his position. Eleven former ministers and dozens of Saudi princes were arrested or detained on charges of corruption, graft or financial malfeasance.…

OPEC Aims For Smooth Exit From Production Cut Deal

The members of OPEC are quietly beginning to plan an eventual tapering-off of production cuts, even as the group plans a nine-month extension of the cuts to the end of 2018, according to Bloomberg. The secret discussions aim to ensure that production comes slowly back online as the cuts expire, avoiding a market shock and the pump-at-will policies from producers that triggered the 2014 price collapse. Speaking at an investment conference in Riyadh, Saudi oil minister Khalid Al-Falih emphasized the group’s focus on reducing OECD inventories,…

Major Oil Traders See Upside For Oil Prices

Division among the world’s biggest oil traders indicates the strong degree of uncertainty in the market. According to Bloomberg, questions over demand growth, relative production from the U.S. and OPEC and the lingering glut are dividing prognosticators and generating some seriously divergent views of what the future holds for oil prices. Glencore Plc, Gunvore Group Ltd. and Trafigura Group Pte are all bullish, Bloomberg notes, estimating that prices will exceed $60 by late in 2018. Trafigura is particularly optimistic, noting that OPEC cuts…

Are Oil Markets Becoming Immune To Geopolitical Risk?

After lying dormant for a few months, the risk premium in oil is back. That, at least, is what many analysts have begun declaring in the wake of fighting in the Iraqi oil-city of Kirkuk, which threatened to take several hundred-thousand bpd off-line, and the U.S. decision to decertify its nuclear deal with Iran. Prices rose this week, due to these developments as well as news that OPEC was planning to extend production cuts while inventories in the U.S. declined further. But its Kirkuk and Iran that have gotten most of the attention. The uncertainty…

Are Oil Markets Becoming Immune To Geopolitical Risk?

After lying dormant for a few months, the risk premium in oil is back. That, at least, is what many analysts have begun declaring in the wake of fighting in the Iraqi oil-city of Kirkuk, which threatened to take several hundred-thousand bpd off-line, and the U.S. decision to decertify its nuclear deal with Iran. Prices rose this week, due to these developments as well as news that OPEC was planning to extend production cuts while inventories in the U.S. declined further. But its Kirkuk and Iran that have gotten most of the attention. The uncertainty…

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Can Deep Water Wind Farms Power The World?

Far out to sea, amid the crashing waves of the North Atlantic, there’s a fortune to be made. According to new research, deep water wind farms could produce enough energy to meet all existing and future electricity demand, if properly harnessed. In a study published on October 9 by researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University, it’s estimated that deep water offshore turbines could produce three to five times as much energy as land-based turbines, due to the higher speeds and consistent force of the wind…

Can Deep Water Wind Farms Power The World?

Far out to sea, amid the crashing waves of the North Atlantic, there’s a fortune to be made. According to new research, deep water wind farms could produce enough energy to meet all existing and future electricity demand, if properly harnessed. In a study published on October 9 by researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University, it’s estimated that deep water offshore turbines could produce three to five times as much energy as land-based turbines, due to the higher speeds and consistent force of the wind…

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The Kurdish Referendum Could Reshape Oil Markets

Iraq, the second-largest OPEC producer, may be facing a significant disruption to its oil exports this month. On September 25, citizens of the northern region of Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous area of Iraq, will vote in a referendum for national independence. If the referendum passes, as it is expected to, Kurdistan could begin proceedings to proclaim formal independence from Iraq, splitting the country in two. On Monday, the Iraqi prime minister Haider Al-Abadi called on the vote to be suspended until after the war against the Islamic State (IS)…

How Vulnerable Are Oil Markets To Extreme Weather?

Last week, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in the United States and for days disrupted the national energy industry. Refineries were closed, pipelines shut down, tankers held out to sea. The price of fuel shot up as gas stations went dry across the country, while crude slumped with a third of the U.S. refinery capacity shut in. A week later, a recovery is evident and most of the shuttered facilities in Corpus Christi and elsewhere are slowly coming back on line. But the impact of Harvey will likely be felt for weeks. Gas prices, according to EIA…

How Long Can U.S. Refineries Remain Offline?

When Hurricane Harvey blew into Texas last weekend, it dumped more than 30 inches of rain, flooding Houston and large areas of southeastern Texas, while leaving thousands homeless or without power. The worst storm to hit the U.S. since 2004 and by some estimates the largest rain-storm in U.S. history, Harvey has had a profound impact on the nation’s largest oil-producing and oil-refining region. Refinery shutdowns, pipeline closures and other consequences of Harvey has sent the Gulf oil industry into a tailspin while throwing oil markets…