Saudi Arabia Continues To Turn Screws On U.S. Shale

Saudi Arabia continues to ratchet up production, taking market share away from U.S. shale producers.

According to OPEC’s latest monthly oil report, Saudi Arabia boosted its oil output to 10.31 million barrels per day in April, a slight increase over the previous month’s total of 10.29 million barrels. That was enough for the de facto OPEC leader to claim its highest oil production level in more than three decades.

Saudi Arabia has increased production by 700,000 barrels per day since the fourth quarter of 2014 in an effort maintain market share. The resulting crash in oil prices is forcing some production out of the market, and Saudi Arabia intends for the brunt of that to be borne by others.

There is a lag between movements in the oil price and corresponding changes in production. OPEC says there was a 23-week time lag between the fall in rig counts and the resulting dip in oil production in the United States. But the effects of the oil price crash are now being felt. New data from the EIA says that U.S. oil production is declining. Having already predicted a 57,000 barrel-per-day decline for May, the agency now says that another 86,000 barrels per day in output will vanish in June.

In other words, as Saudi Arabia ramps up, U.S. shale is being forced to cut back. This story has been told many times over the past few months, but the data is finally confirming the success of Saudi Arabia’s strategy, albeit a minor one thus far.

But at the same time, Saudi Arabia’s (and OPEC’s) influence is much more limited than it was in the past. Despite Saudi Arabia producing at its highest level in more than 30 years, oil prices have climbed back from their lows. WTI has jumped more than 36 percent since March, now trading above $60 per barrel. Brent has surpassed $66 per barrel, up more than 26 percent in two months. That is obviously good for Saudi Arabia, but oil prices may not have stayed low enough to do real lasting damage on U.S. shale.

Full article: Saudi Arabia Continues To Turn Screws On U.S. Shale (Saudi Arabia)

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