The oil price soars – but can it last?

The oil price has risen by nearly 25% so far in 2019, well in advance of any developed-world stockmarket. But the surge may not get a lot higher from here.

The oil price (as measured by the Brent crude benchmark) has risen by nearly 25% so far in 2019, well in advance of any developed-world stockmarket, as oil producers slash production in a "shock and awe strategy", said Goldman Sachs analysts. So far oil cartel Opec and the other big producer, Russia, have reduced output from 31.6 million barrels a day in December to 30.8 million in January. Meanwhile, Venezuela, another big producer, is in meltdown.

But the surge may not get a lot higher from here. Output cuts could be offset by rising US shale production. Last year, US oil producers experienced pipeline bottlenecks (with oil supplies outstripping the capacity to get it to market), but those should ease by the end of 2019. US output is already expected to surpass 24 million barrels a day over the next six years, according to Reuters. And there are signs that US output is set to rise further.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Become a smarter, better informed investor with MoneyWeek.

The latest rig count from energy services firm Baker Hughes shows that US energy firms have boosted the number of rigs drilling for oil to 857, from fewer than 800 a year ago, notes Henning Gloystein on Reuters.

Markets aren't ready for this surge in production, reckon Commerzbank analysts.US supplies are growing much faster than expected, yet this"is being completely ignored at present". As a result, "we view the current price rise as exaggerated and see growing correction potential".



Global Economy

What escalating tension between Iran and the US means for oil prices

The tension between the US and Iran is unlikely to mean all-out war in the Middle East. But markets may be getting a little too complacent about its e…
6 Jan 2020

Rising output will keep a lid on the oil price

Oil exporters’ cartel Opec gave further encouragement to the bulls this month after agreeing to new production curbs.
20 Dec 2019

Brace yourself for pricier oil

Global growth, and hence demand for oil, could surprise on the upside next year, leading to a bounce in the oil price.
29 Nov 2019

Why has the oil market taken the Saudi attack so calmly?

After an initial spike in the oil price, the market seems to have shrugged off the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure. John Stepek asks if it…
23 Sep 2019

Most Popular

Stocks and shares

Do you own shares in Sirius Minerals? Here’s what you need to do now

Mining giant Anglo American has proposed a cash takeover of Yorkshire-based minnow Sirius Minerals. Unhappy shareholders must decide whether to accept…
20 Feb 2020

The euro’s slide against the US dollar looks set to continue

The euro has been in a bear market against the US dollar for two years now. And on a broader scale since 2008. A decline like that is telling us somet…
19 Feb 2020
UK Economy

Britain’s economy might spring a surprise on the doomsayers this year

The UK economy is looking pretty good – we’re more at risk of a boom than a bust, says John Stepek. Here’s why, and what it means for your portfolio.
20 Feb 2020

The rare earth metal that won't be a secret for long

SPONSORED CONTENT – You can’t keep a good thing hidden forever; now is the time to consider Pensana Rare Earths and the rare earth metals NdPr.
31 Jan 2020