nOPEC

566 views

Oil just got beat again when it became public that OPEC is a dysfunctional organization. Who could have imagined that disparate oil producing nations with deep, cultural differences (read racism) might have trouble working through competition?

I never would have guessed it would crop up this quickly. But the demise of OPEC is hardly unforeseen. I myself penned an article this July discussing the possibility of the oil markets being upended.

But it is funny, reading through those thoughts going on just five months old, and seeing how violently they have diverged from what I expected.

I expected the development of US oil and gas reserves would create trouble for the old guards. I did not expect that oil would collapse 30% in two months. While you could say that those price swings were to be expected – just simple economics – I had expected the US might actually do more legislatively to erect a wall between us and the oil nations altogether. Obviously this happened much too quickly for any of that.

I had also guessed that when things started to get tough, OPEC would at least try to band together first. They’ve been successful at this in the past, so failing to construct even symbolic production cuts this round is certainly worse off along than I would have ventured.

The fallout in oil and energy names, following August, is not something I truthfully believed in. This may sound strange, but I was actually betting against myself when I made those sales of my oil and gas positions. And I never would have believed we’d fall so far. BAS is off 60% peak to trough, for crying out loud. Even when I knew we were experiencing a correction, I didn’t think it would be this extreme.

Now let’s put some context into all of this. Some of these energy names are trading at prices as bad as or worse than they were in 2010-2011 (when oil prices were pretty much where they are now); and lots of these energy companies were losing money back then, whereas they are making money today. I’m talking about BAS explicitly as an example.

So what happens now?

Well, I think that the prices of oil & gas plays are pretty compelling here. Yes oil is a bummer and there is big talk about $30 oil being right around the corner. And it’s no coincidence that I think this talk is stupid and that those responsible should be viciously ridiculed. I think the price drop is temporary, unremarkable and indistinct from any other major selloff that has gripped the price of oil in the past five years.

I think competition will continue to do real damage to the major oil nations in the world bringing about the greatest power shift of our lifetimes. But as apart from my peers, who seem to believe that a Venezuela or Russia has the ability to ramp up production into this price drop, leading to a deflationary spiral that ushers in 1990’s prices for all Western nations, I tend to feel this is silly.

You can’t call for the death of the Bakkens and simultaneously think that oil stays this low. Actually I have a hypothesis that the events that would have to converge to keep oil this low are few and far between. The big question here is timing as to when oil goes higher.

So my guess – and this is definitely just that – is that the US shale boom lives. And here’s what will enable that to happen.

These oil exporting countries have all made brazen moves with their budgets. Places like Russia, Saudi Arabia, or Iran are barely holding it together. Places like Venezuela can’t even muster that; oil prices for Venezuela are kind of like mattresses or trampolines to a guy already falling off a roof – a point of hope.

But if oil prices keep falling, you’re going to see one of these places – and Venezuela is definitely near the top of my list – buckle. Venezuela is probably the easiest case to get back to $100 oil, because one Venezuela is good enough to offset new US production. But it could just as easily be a combination of other smaller oil exporters. A half dozen of the smaller to mid size guys, or even a combination of Syria and Iraq plunging back into darkness. IS is obviously a possible trigger here; a bunch of pissed off twenty year olds, armed with rocket propelled grenades, trying to operate oil machinery? Sounds like a nice, safe combo.

What we’ve seen, repeatedly, is that when a place like, oh, Syria or Libya plunges into anarchy, it’s not just a small setback. Rather, the entire oil infrastructure gets taken offline for years at a time.

Another civil war or resurgent fighting could easily get us back to lower oil production in these places. Some US legislative work (now freed from the concerns about access to supply thanks to the US domestic advances) could help keep our own oil expertise from setting those places back up again after they tumble.

Why would we want to do this? Rome is sick of Carthage.

Just think about the sheer number of problems that these countries have dealt us over the past fifty years. We already know that the US can withstand $100 oil. We’ve been doing it for a few years now. And $100 oil benefits the US economy directly, whereas $80 oil is the worst of all worlds; too cheap or expensive to care about.

With the GOP in Congress and looking to juice the US a little, and with Obama increasingly looking for a major win, sticking a stake in the middle east is probably the lowest hanging fruit around. Kill IS by letting them destroy their own oil infrastructure, then restrict the companies that have usually bailed that region back out (Shell, Exxon, etcetera) from doing that. Lower Russia back into 1993 conditions, then tell Blankfein to keep out this time.

That’s how I see things playing out. Sure we could watch the US shale revolution just go to waste completely. But I think at this junction the US has a pretty vested interest in not letting that happen. It’s a new dawn, after all.

Up For The Week, Somehow

198 views

The market may be down, but somehow I ended up a small sum. My account is up 3% today, erasing the nasty tumble I had play out over the past 48 hours.

I’m constructive in oil and energy names, but that applies more to energy services and complement plays than it does to pure oil bets. I’m also very adverse to deep sea drilling, because it’s expensive and easily priced out of competitiveness.

I’m getting excited about uranium for the first time in years. I’ve been enthusiastic up until now, but there was something missing. The fuel run is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Enjoy your weekend, my good man or lady. The 9th floor is closed for business, until Monday.

You Won’t Believe What Happened To Basic Energy Services’ Operation Data Last Month

241 views

Nah, I’m just screwing with you. It was unchanged.

FORT WORTH, Texas, Nov. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Basic Energy Services, Inc. (BAS) (“Basic”) today reported selected operating data for the month of October 2014. Basic’s well servicing rig count remained unchanged at 421. Well servicing rig hours for the month were 77,800 producing a rig utilization rate of 73%, compared to 71% in both September 2014 and October 2013.

Fluid service truck utilization was up substantially. There was a tick down in drilling rig days, but those remain well above where they were the last time BAS was trading at $11.

Roe Patterson had this to say:

“October activity was strong across all of our business segments rebounding from the Labor Day and weather impacts during September. Our stimulation horsepower operated at near full utilization in October and we maintained price increases to offset higher operating costs.”

Sounds like doom and gloom there. Black smoke everywhere…

“We saw a significant increase in truck utilization in October, particularly in our Permian Basin and Rocky Mountain operating areas, as we continue to benefit from our longstanding strategy of centering our fluid service assets around our advanced disposal well network. Utilization levels in our well servicing and contract drilling segments were steady and remained in line with our expectations.

“While we are pleased with our customers’ current levels of activity, we are closely monitoring them as well as their expected 2015 spending plans. We have positioned ourselves to quickly make appropriate changes to our operating strategy as may be required.”

So far, there remains no proof that the sector is even slowing down. I’m sure there are some high speculation bets out there which will be destroyed. So stop buying husk.

Rumors of the demise of the energy and gas sector are way ahead of themselves.

Huge Move In Uranium Prices

165 views

Uranium spot price is now back above $40. Price for uranium fuel has not been this high in years.

No joke, the recovery is now.

Long CCJ.

Bracing For The Second Impact

372 views

The oil market is in the middle of another sharp leg lower. This is going to jolt the players and be painful. Today will not be fun for me. I’m going to have to grin and bear it and distract myself with a bag of popcorn and the spectacle of fifty million hardcore Democrats breaking down live on public access television tonight.

The impetus for the announcement might be, allegedly, a December price cut by Saudi Arabia to US markets.

This is the key takeaway here:

Top global exporter Saudi Arabia increased its December official selling prices (OSPs), relative to benchmarks, to Asia and Europe on Monday, but lowered prices to the United States, a smaller export market.

Which is to say that Saudi Arabia actually raised prices in December.

Guys, come on. Saudi Arabia’s oil market is Europe and Asia, almost entirely. They don’t sell diddly in the United States. Our oil comes from South America and Canada. You can easily check this via public records – the EIA, I believe it was, keeps detailed records about global oil sales, including by country of origin and destination.

If Saudi Arabia is lowering prices on little to no volume sold, then Saudi Arabia is not lowering prices.

In practice, this leg lower probably has less to do with Saudi Arabia and more to do with what is to be expected in a correction like this. This is not the first time I’ve been in a position that bleeds out, to see a moment of stability followed by more sharp bleeding.

APC comes to mind back when that oil well blew in the Gulf. Uranium prices did the same thing. And shares of gun manufacturers after Sandy Hook.

You get a big blowup, some tepid stability, then another collapse.

The second collapse is usually the best buying point. Usually…

Oil Soap Opera

259 views

The market intelligentsia on Twitter is in quite the state of excitement, narrating this late day move lower in WTI to death.

Yes, it is true that WTI is down today. But Brent is holding up fairly well. The most consequential relationship here with the most force behind it is the WTI-Brent spread, not the price per barrel of WTI or Brent exactly.

The WTI-Brent spread exists for stronger logical reasons, whereas the price per barrel of either has historically been prone to large 20% swings played out every few years.

The WTI-Brent spread was over $10 just this past 12 months. What we are seeing, following this major blowout of oil, is constructive so long as the WTI-Brent spread reestablishes itself. So long as the spread is being repaired that is indication of a healing market. I view the EURUSD and European economics as being instrumental in this blowout in the first place.

The confluence of events of European growth disappointments, EURUSD weakness, and Saudi Arabia oil announcements being construed as evidence of consumer weakness (read EU) all led us to where we are. Much of the fear about the oversupplied oil market rested on EU failure to grow and absorb excess. The IMF report set off the panic.

In a sense, it was Brent that dragged down WTI in the first place, as the spot difference between the two evaporated completely.

The WTI-Brent spread reestablishing itself is therefore wholly healthy. This is the first step to a recovery in the price of oil. The spread reestablishing marks a bottom and begins the process of rebidding oil back to the $100 mark. The temporary lull in pricing will also do wonders to ease off global consumers.

For the moment, we cannot say that WTI is selling off further do to economics, rather than traders making bets that the WTI-Brent spread will reestablish itself. From the point of view of a trader, betting on the spread reestablishing is a much safer, much surer bet than outright gambles in commodity price direction.

This is accomplished by buying Brent and selling WTI. Expect fluctuations in both prices in the immediate term. But so long as the spread widens, consider it a blessing and sign of bottoming.

The current state of oil and energy names is a rare opportunity. I am a buyer, with two hands.

nOPEC

566 views

Oil just got beat again when it became public that OPEC is a dysfunctional organization. Who could have imagined that disparate oil producing nations with deep, cultural differences (read racism) might have trouble working through competition?

I never would have guessed it would crop up this quickly. But the demise of OPEC is hardly unforeseen. I myself penned an article this July discussing the possibility of the oil markets being upended.

But it is funny, reading through those thoughts going on just five months old, and seeing how violently they have diverged from what I expected.

I expected the development of US oil and gas reserves would create trouble for the old guards. I did not expect that oil would collapse 30% in two months. While you could say that those price swings were to be expected – just simple economics – I had expected the US might actually do more legislatively to erect a wall between us and the oil nations altogether. Obviously this happened much too quickly for any of that.

I had also guessed that when things started to get tough, OPEC would at least try to band together first. They’ve been successful at this in the past, so failing to construct even symbolic production cuts this round is certainly worse off along than I would have ventured.

The fallout in oil and energy names, following August, is not something I truthfully believed in. This may sound strange, but I was actually betting against myself when I made those sales of my oil and gas positions. And I never would have believed we’d fall so far. BAS is off 60% peak to trough, for crying out loud. Even when I knew we were experiencing a correction, I didn’t think it would be this extreme.

Now let’s put some context into all of this. Some of these energy names are trading at prices as bad as or worse than they were in 2010-2011 (when oil prices were pretty much where they are now); and lots of these energy companies were losing money back then, whereas they are making money today. I’m talking about BAS explicitly as an example.

So what happens now?

Well, I think that the prices of oil & gas plays are pretty compelling here. Yes oil is a bummer and there is big talk about $30 oil being right around the corner. And it’s no coincidence that I think this talk is stupid and that those responsible should be viciously ridiculed. I think the price drop is temporary, unremarkable and indistinct from any other major selloff that has gripped the price of oil in the past five years.

I think competition will continue to do real damage to the major oil nations in the world bringing about the greatest power shift of our lifetimes. But as apart from my peers, who seem to believe that a Venezuela or Russia has the ability to ramp up production into this price drop, leading to a deflationary spiral that ushers in 1990’s prices for all Western nations, I tend to feel this is silly.

You can’t call for the death of the Bakkens and simultaneously think that oil stays this low. Actually I have a hypothesis that the events that would have to converge to keep oil this low are few and far between. The big question here is timing as to when oil goes higher.

So my guess – and this is definitely just that – is that the US shale boom lives. And here’s what will enable that to happen.

These oil exporting countries have all made brazen moves with their budgets. Places like Russia, Saudi Arabia, or Iran are barely holding it together. Places like Venezuela can’t even muster that; oil prices for Venezuela are kind of like mattresses or trampolines to a guy already falling off a roof – a point of hope.

But if oil prices keep falling, you’re going to see one of these places – and Venezuela is definitely near the top of my list – buckle. Venezuela is probably the easiest case to get back to $100 oil, because one Venezuela is good enough to offset new US production. But it could just as easily be a combination of other smaller oil exporters. A half dozen of the smaller to mid size guys, or even a combination of Syria and Iraq plunging back into darkness. IS is obviously a possible trigger here; a bunch of pissed off twenty year olds, armed with rocket propelled grenades, trying to operate oil machinery? Sounds like a nice, safe combo.

What we’ve seen, repeatedly, is that when a place like, oh, Syria or Libya plunges into anarchy, it’s not just a small setback. Rather, the entire oil infrastructure gets taken offline for years at a time.

Another civil war or resurgent fighting could easily get us back to lower oil production in these places. Some US legislative work (now freed from the concerns about access to supply thanks to the US domestic advances) could help keep our own oil expertise from setting those places back up again after they tumble.

Why would we want to do this? Rome is sick of Carthage.

Just think about the sheer number of problems that these countries have dealt us over the past fifty years. We already know that the US can withstand $100 oil. We’ve been doing it for a few years now. And $100 oil benefits the US economy directly, whereas $80 oil is the worst of all worlds; too cheap or expensive to care about.

With the GOP in Congress and looking to juice the US a little, and with Obama increasingly looking for a major win, sticking a stake in the middle east is probably the lowest hanging fruit around. Kill IS by letting them destroy their own oil infrastructure, then restrict the companies that have usually bailed that region back out (Shell, Exxon, etcetera) from doing that. Lower Russia back into 1993 conditions, then tell Blankfein to keep out this time.

That’s how I see things playing out. Sure we could watch the US shale revolution just go to waste completely. But I think at this junction the US has a pretty vested interest in not letting that happen. It’s a new dawn, after all.

Up For The Week, Somehow

198 views

The market may be down, but somehow I ended up a small sum. My account is up 3% today, erasing the nasty tumble I had play out over the past 48 hours.

I’m constructive in oil and energy names, but that applies more to energy services and complement plays than it does to pure oil bets. I’m also very adverse to deep sea drilling, because it’s expensive and easily priced out of competitiveness.

I’m getting excited about uranium for the first time in years. I’ve been enthusiastic up until now, but there was something missing. The fuel run is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Enjoy your weekend, my good man or lady. The 9th floor is closed for business, until Monday.

You Won’t Believe What Happened To Basic Energy Services’ Operation Data Last Month

241 views

Nah, I’m just screwing with you. It was unchanged.

FORT WORTH, Texas, Nov. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Basic Energy Services, Inc. (BAS) (“Basic”) today reported selected operating data for the month of October 2014. Basic’s well servicing rig count remained unchanged at 421. Well servicing rig hours for the month were 77,800 producing a rig utilization rate of 73%, compared to 71% in both September 2014 and October 2013.

Fluid service truck utilization was up substantially. There was a tick down in drilling rig days, but those remain well above where they were the last time BAS was trading at $11.

Roe Patterson had this to say:

“October activity was strong across all of our business segments rebounding from the Labor Day and weather impacts during September. Our stimulation horsepower operated at near full utilization in October and we maintained price increases to offset higher operating costs.”

Sounds like doom and gloom there. Black smoke everywhere…

“We saw a significant increase in truck utilization in October, particularly in our Permian Basin and Rocky Mountain operating areas, as we continue to benefit from our longstanding strategy of centering our fluid service assets around our advanced disposal well network. Utilization levels in our well servicing and contract drilling segments were steady and remained in line with our expectations.

“While we are pleased with our customers’ current levels of activity, we are closely monitoring them as well as their expected 2015 spending plans. We have positioned ourselves to quickly make appropriate changes to our operating strategy as may be required.”

So far, there remains no proof that the sector is even slowing down. I’m sure there are some high speculation bets out there which will be destroyed. So stop buying husk.

Rumors of the demise of the energy and gas sector are way ahead of themselves.

Huge Move In Uranium Prices

165 views

Uranium spot price is now back above $40. Price for uranium fuel has not been this high in years.

No joke, the recovery is now.

Long CCJ.

Bracing For The Second Impact

372 views

The oil market is in the middle of another sharp leg lower. This is going to jolt the players and be painful. Today will not be fun for me. I’m going to have to grin and bear it and distract myself with a bag of popcorn and the spectacle of fifty million hardcore Democrats breaking down live on public access television tonight.

The impetus for the announcement might be, allegedly, a December price cut by Saudi Arabia to US markets.

This is the key takeaway here:

Top global exporter Saudi Arabia increased its December official selling prices (OSPs), relative to benchmarks, to Asia and Europe on Monday, but lowered prices to the United States, a smaller export market.

Which is to say that Saudi Arabia actually raised prices in December.

Guys, come on. Saudi Arabia’s oil market is Europe and Asia, almost entirely. They don’t sell diddly in the United States. Our oil comes from South America and Canada. You can easily check this via public records – the EIA, I believe it was, keeps detailed records about global oil sales, including by country of origin and destination.

If Saudi Arabia is lowering prices on little to no volume sold, then Saudi Arabia is not lowering prices.

In practice, this leg lower probably has less to do with Saudi Arabia and more to do with what is to be expected in a correction like this. This is not the first time I’ve been in a position that bleeds out, to see a moment of stability followed by more sharp bleeding.

APC comes to mind back when that oil well blew in the Gulf. Uranium prices did the same thing. And shares of gun manufacturers after Sandy Hook.

You get a big blowup, some tepid stability, then another collapse.

The second collapse is usually the best buying point. Usually…

Oil Soap Opera

259 views

The market intelligentsia on Twitter is in quite the state of excitement, narrating this late day move lower in WTI to death.

Yes, it is true that WTI is down today. But Brent is holding up fairly well. The most consequential relationship here with the most force behind it is the WTI-Brent spread, not the price per barrel of WTI or Brent exactly.

The WTI-Brent spread exists for stronger logical reasons, whereas the price per barrel of either has historically been prone to large 20% swings played out every few years.

The WTI-Brent spread was over $10 just this past 12 months. What we are seeing, following this major blowout of oil, is constructive so long as the WTI-Brent spread reestablishes itself. So long as the spread is being repaired that is indication of a healing market. I view the EURUSD and European economics as being instrumental in this blowout in the first place.

The confluence of events of European growth disappointments, EURUSD weakness, and Saudi Arabia oil announcements being construed as evidence of consumer weakness (read EU) all led us to where we are. Much of the fear about the oversupplied oil market rested on EU failure to grow and absorb excess. The IMF report set off the panic.

In a sense, it was Brent that dragged down WTI in the first place, as the spot difference between the two evaporated completely.

The WTI-Brent spread reestablishing itself is therefore wholly healthy. This is the first step to a recovery in the price of oil. The spread reestablishing marks a bottom and begins the process of rebidding oil back to the $100 mark. The temporary lull in pricing will also do wonders to ease off global consumers.

For the moment, we cannot say that WTI is selling off further do to economics, rather than traders making bets that the WTI-Brent spread will reestablish itself. From the point of view of a trader, betting on the spread reestablishing is a much safer, much surer bet than outright gambles in commodity price direction.

This is accomplished by buying Brent and selling WTI. Expect fluctuations in both prices in the immediate term. But so long as the spread widens, consider it a blessing and sign of bottoming.

The current state of oil and energy names is a rare opportunity. I am a buyer, with two hands.

Previous Posts by Mr. Cain Thaler