S&P Global Platts Analytics: Chris Midgley on Energy Market Drivers

S&P Global Platts Analytics: Chris Midgley on Energy Market Drivers

Chris Midgley is currently heading the Analytics Content Division at S&P Global Platts. He comes with over 25 years of oil industry experience, primarily in manufacturing, supply, trading, and strategy. He has a degree in Chemical Engineering, starting his career in Manufacturing with Exxon. Later in 1997, he joined Shell, where he worked as a Chief Economist and Head of Oil Markets Analysis, based in London.

Image Attribute: Shell Deer Park Refinery, Deer Park Texas/ U.S. / Source: Flickr - Roy Luck, creative commons

Image Attribute: Shell Deer Park Refinery, Deer Park Texas/ U.S. / Source: Flickr - Roy Luck, creative commons

Oil


Three years of low oil prices have stimulated strong demand growth of over 1.5mbd each year with S&P Global Platts Analytics forecasting 2018 to grow at 1.8mbd. This along with the OPEC and Non-OPEC production cuts has finally started to result in global balances tightening with S&P Global Platts Analytics forecasting that stocks have drawn at 900kbd during 2017 resulting in surplus crude stocks falling to around 50mb once you take into account the rebasing of natural stocks length given the demand growth over the period.

Fears of U.S. Shale Oil production growth and demand destruction from Electric Vehicles (EVs) has dampened the price response with S&P Global Platts Analytics forecasting Data Bent to inch closer towards $60/bbl during the last 2 months of 2017. However, projects sanctioned pre-2014, when oil prices were above $100/bbl will add to non-OPEC, non-US Shale supply growth in 2018 (Canada, Brazil, Kazakhstan, North Sea). Despite strong forecasted demand growth, this supply growth along with US Shale supply growth will erode the stock draws of 2017, resulting in softening of markets in the first half of 2018 to around $55/bbl and thus meriting the need for OPEC production constraint for the rest of 2018.

However, the deficit of projects sanctioned over the last 3 years could start to bite as we head towards 2020. Non-OPEC/Non-Shale production accounts for 40mbd of supply and with 3-4% decline rates could result supply tightness as longer-term investments have been cut due to fear of US Shale Production and EVs Growth. In the next 3-4 years, EVs will not be meaningful, even with spectacular
demand growth every 1m additional sales of EVs only replaces 30kbd of demand which should be input in context with the 1.8mbd growth seen this year and likely in 2018. Regional tensions (such as North Korea) are likely to result in supply disruptions (over the last 40 years there has been a significant disruption every 2-3 years) which with low surplus stocks and OPEC spare capacity could
result in price spikes. S&P Global Platts Analytics expect prices to test $80/bbl before 2022.

While today’s market is anchored down the back of the curve by producers hedging around $55-57/bbl (Brent) limiting upside in the front month to around $60/bbl taking into account Dated Brent shifting into Backwardation. S&P Global Platts Analytics to see US Shale Production coming under some price pressure if required to respond to supply tightness. Productivity improvements are starting to plateau and cost are creeping upwards as resources (people and fracking equipment) have become increasingly tight. At the same time, “conventional” production costs are coming down, the cost of steel has halved, drilling rigs are being leased at below operating costs and fabrication yards in South Korea are almost empty having let go of the majority of their workforce. As such we may see an inversion between US Shale being the price setter (as many commentators suggest) and new conventional marginal capital projects setting longer-term price forecasts closer to $60/bbl.

LNG


LNG remains the key to unlocking the global gas market which has seen a short-term price recovery. The price in the East (Platts JKM) has crested after heavier buying this summer due to support from coal, Chinese short-term pollution control measure, and stock building for new Korean storage. S&P Global Platts see LNG oversupply building and with the majority of demand covered for the end of the year is likely to see weaker support. New production in 2018 may start to bear more heavily on prices in 2018. Major policy decisions in China and India will have a significant outlook on future prices as renewables may continue encroaching on gas demand for power generation needs.

US Henry Hub (HH) price support remains in place ahead of winter due to lower than normal inventories and in spite of warmer than normal weather. new demand from industry (investment) and LNG producers still outpacing supply growth. Increased production of associated gas from US Shale Oil growth is helping to keep marginal production costs low, capping upside to the market, although a
colder winter would result in short term price spikes. Overall remains range bound around $3-3.50/mmBTU.

In Europe, gas storage has recovered from 2Q deficits due to heavy builds on the Continent, although U.K. is extremely nervous going into winter with its only long-range storage facility shuttered. Having to rely on imports and continental storage for peak demand in winter is inherently risky due to potential demand for gas from other markets.

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