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Wednesday, 31 May 17
MARKET INSIGHT - KONSTANTINOS KAKAVITSAS
IntermodalIn the next episode of the oil market; The market reacts to OPEC’s production cut extension, the US shale oil producers are ruining the cartel’s plan to manipulate the oil price, money managers’ positions reverse and finally, USA versus Iran! Stay tuned to find out more about the intriguing action taking place in the oil market.

Goliath. When the first production cut agreement was agreed by OPEC oil producers last November, WTI crude surged 12% within a trading week noting its biggest gains in 6 years. On the contrary, the agreement during last week’s meeting in Vienna, to extend the cut for another nine months failed to cause a rally in oil prices. Instead, both WTI and the global benchmark Brent slid on the 25th of May signaling not only that the extension was already priced in the commodity’s price but also further pessimism from the investing community. It seems that the mighty cartel will need more than announcements to meet its target price of $60/bbl. But guess who does stand in its way.

David. That’s correct. US shale oil producers have more than doubled their operating rigs from the previous year’s lowest point. Amid the highest production levels since August 2015, inventories hitting record numbers on March 2017 and new technologies that allow for a lower breakeven point in operating expenses, shale producers did not stay idle. But what is probably the best countermeasure that they took lies in the financial markets. Taking advantage of the price rally that occurred from announcements that the cartel traditionally uses to stimulate the market, they hedged their physical positions when the oil price has hit more than $50/bbl, a point assuring them profitability. So effectively, OPEC’s strategy proved somewhat unsuccessful as it helped save the sector it originally tried to eliminate!

Big Short. Another notable player sitting in the oil market’s table is smart money. Money managers’ positions demonstrate a rather bearish picture as bets against oil in both futures and options markets hit record highs. Moreover, consecutive cuts in net-long positions in WTI and Brent holdings, further ascertains that hedge funds are no longer overinvested in the oil market. I know what you are thinking. Rallies in oil price did happen. Well, they sure did; nevertheless, somewhere between behavioral sentiment, purely short-term technical trading and covering of short positions none of these rallies have proved to be a persistent upward trend.

Uncle Sam. Despite Iran’s compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal, possibility that current US government will not proceed to lift sanctions just yet is still hovering around. This way, prices for domestic crude as well as North Sea’s Brent will most probably be boosted. In regards though to the oil-derived shipping market, less production in the Middle-East region may suggest a substitution with Nigerian crude, which results in more ton-miles of transportation as major importers are located in the Far East. However, this reduction in heavier crude production suggests that refineries will produce less fuel oil in favor of higher distillate products potentially affecting this way the trading patterns between the dirty and clean tanker market segments. So, as you may have guessed, the impact that president Trump’s policies will have on trump shipping is not easy to assess.

So, what have we learnt so far? Well, if price stability and sustainable growth of the market is the focus, then OPEC’s best option could be adjusting its strategy instead of expecting global demand to pick up. Otherwise, if its influence is not so strong anymore, maybe -and this is just a thought- it needs to look west for some new allies.
By Konstantinos Kakavitsas 
Tanker Chartering 

Compiled by:
Intermodal Research & Valuations


Analysts:
Ms Eva Tzima


Disclaimer and legal disclosure: For any further queries please do not hesitate to contact our Research & Valuations Department. The information contained in this report has been obtained from various sources, as reported in the market. Intermodal Shipbrokers Co. believes such information to be factual and reliable without making guarantees regarding its accuracy or completeness. Whilst every care has been taken in the production of the above review, no liability can be accepted for any loss or damage incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may seek to rely on the information and views contained in this material. This report is being produced for the internal use of the intended recipients only and no reproducing is allowed, without the prior written authorization of Intermodal Shipbrokers Co.

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