May 19, 2017

HAVE YOU HUGGED A FRACKER TODAY? Full tanks and tankers: a stubborn oil glut despite OPEC cuts.

After the first OPEC oil production cut in eight years took effect in January, oil traders from Houston to Singapore started emptying millions of barrels of crude from storage tanks.

Investors hailed the drawdowns as the beginning of the end of a two-year supply glut – raising hopes for steadily rising per-barrel prices.

It hasn’t worked out that way.

Now, many of those same storage tanks are filling back up or draining more slowly than investors and oil firms had expected, according to global inventory estimates and more than a dozen oil traders and shipping sources who told Reuters about storage in facilities that do not make their oil volumes public.

The stalled drawdowns shed light on the broader challenge facing OPEC – the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries – as it struggles to steer the industry out of the downturn caused by oversupply. With U.S. shale oil production surging, inventories remain stubbornly high and prices appear stuck in the low-$50s per-barrel range.

The market has not strengthened enough to drain many major storage facilities around the globe – which OPEC oil ministers had hoped would be a first step toward rebalancing what has been a buyer’s market since late 2014.

Don’t you just love a buyer’s market?