Moody’s Ponders Credit Downgrades for 120 Energy Companies

Oil prices received a jolt on January 21 and 22, as a cavalcade of bullish news conspired to push oil prices back into the $30s per barrel. The markets got excited at the possibility of more aggressive action from the European Central Bank on Thursday after comments from Mario Draghi, the bank’s president.Also, several voices weighed on oil prices, raising the questions about the unreasonable decline below $30 per barrel. The head of state-owned Saudi Aramco said that oil prices below $30 per barrel was “irrational,” and that he expected prices to rebound this year. Separately, Citigroup said that oil could be “the trade of the year,” because a price increase is nearly assured. After all, prices cannot go much lower, can they? Continue reading

OPEC Boasts About Pain In U.S. Shale

Oil prices continue to fluctuate in a relatively narrow band around $50 for WTI and $60 for Brent. On March 6, Baker Hughes reported another round of declining rig counts. Only this week the pace of cutbacks accelerated. An estimated 75 rigs were removed from the oil patch for the week ending on March 6, a big jump from a week earlier. It is important to remember that week-to-week numbers are largely statistical noise; the long-term trend line is more important. Still, after several weeks in which the rig count collapse appeared to be slowing, last week’s figures are a reminder that the rout is not over yet. After all, production has not dropped off – U.S. production surpassed 9.3 million barrels of oil per day in February, the highest level in decades. Continue reading