The oil market has rapidly recovered from its darkest day ever. US crude topped $40 a barrel this week. That wouldn’t typically be notable — but right now, that marks an $80 leap from its unprecedented trip below zero just seven weeks ago, when it hit a low of -$40.32 a barrel on April 20. Meanwhile Brent crude, the world benchmark, has more than doubled since mid-April.
The remarkable oil recovery is being driven by hopes of a sharp rebound in the world economy from the coronavirus pandemic that crushed demand for gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.
The oil comeback also reflects enthusiasm for record-setting production cuts by OPEC, Russia and their allies, plus the sharp pullback in output from the United States, the world’s leading producer.
It’s time for oil investors to start taking electric cars seriously.
In the next two years, Tesla and Chevy plan to start selling electric cars with a range of more than 200 miles priced in the $30,000 range. Ford is investing billions, Volkswagen is investing billions, and Nissan and BMW are investing billions. Nearly every major carmaker—as well as Apple and Google—is working on the next generation of plug-in cars.
This is a problem for oil markets. OPEC still contends that electric vehicles will make up just 1 percent of global car sales in 2040. Exxon’s forecast is similarly dismissive.
The dramatic crash in crude oil prices just got even more stunning. Oil plummeted below $30 a barrel on Tuesday for the first time since December 2003. The latest wave of selling leaves crude oil down 19% this year alone. It represents an incredible 72% plunge from crude oil’s June 2014 peak of almost $108.
“The fundamental situation for oil markets is much worse than previously thought,” Barclays commodities analysts wrote in a client note.
Add BP to the list of oil companies slashing their spending in the wake of tumbling oil prices.
The company said Tuesday it was lowering its budget for exploration and production this year to $20 billion, down significantly from previous forecasts of $24 billion to $26 billion.
“We have now entered a new and challenging phase of low oil prices through the near and medium term,” said CEO Bob Dudley, adding that ”our focus must now be on resetting BP” and maintaining safe operations.
Empirically, the US economy has entered a recession every time US national spending on oil has crossed the line of 4% of GDP. 4% of US GDP is equivalent to about $80 dollars a barrel. That means that if oil prices remain above $80, the US will enter a recession by year’s end.”
Thanks to Jon Medved for the original post: Ed