Energy analysts are struggling to predict where world oil prices could bottom out in the months ahead. Energy consultant Stephen Shorck told Bloomberg, “This is Operation Desert Storm, Enron, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina/Rita, Lehman Bros, combined.”
Citigroup has a downside scenario that should send Jason Kenney reeling.
Citigroup laid out a pessimistic scenario in which WTI falls to $5 per barrel. Energy Aspects said Brent could fall to $10. Mizuho Securities said some oil could even fall into negative territory absent shale shut-ins.How could oil prices go negative?
Various reports hit the news feeds today quoting a deliberately headline-grabbing statement by Paul Sankey, managing director at Mizuho Securities, in which he is reported as saying, “Oil prices can go negative.” That is, they could as a combination of Saudi Arabia (and Russia) flooding the market with increased oil and the market running headlong into COVID-19-induced curtailment of activity that is suppressing consumption, which combined will create the perfect storm of excess supply.
In reality, inventory levels are already rising.
CNN quotes Sankey, who said global oil demand is only around 100 million barrels per day.
However, the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could crash demand by up to 20 percent.
This would create a 20 million barrel-per-day surplus of oil in the market that would rapidly exceed storage capacity, forcing oil producers to pay customers to buy the commodity – hence, in effect, negative oil prices.
Francisco Blanch, a commodity strategist at Bank of America, warns in a Fox Business report that the demand destruction caused by the COVID-19 virus and the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia could cause inventories to swell by 900 million barrels in the second quarter alone. He estimates the world currently has about 1.5 billion barrels of available storage.
China continues to build storage capacity, having traditionally been short of space, but is now in a better position to take advantage of ultra-low prices.
“In a severe scenario, if the market struggles to find a home for surplus barrels, then oil prices might have to trade down into the teens,” Blanch suggests. That would leave U.S. and Canadian producers deeply in the red when hedges run out. Weaker OPEC countries, like Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, and Nigeria, could see their economies collapse, while all offshore production would be loss-making if oil prices remain suppressed into the teens over the long term.What then for Trudeau's Folly, the 16-19 billion dollar Trans Mountain pipeline? How does a government scrambling to get its hands on 25 billion for stimulus relief deal with a pipeline commitment to transport a stranded asset, bitumen?