May 2, 2016
In 1870, John D. Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company that became the largest monopoly in the petroleum industry. After 135 years, in the fall of 2014, Rockefeller’s heirs called off their investments in fossil fuels. They explained the decision by the fact that clean renewable energy was phasing out oil-based wealth. It appears they are right as the price of Brent crude oil fell to $35 a barrel in January 2016 from $95 in September 2014.
However, considering the fluctuations of the price of black gold when Standard Oil was established, it stands to reason that after a major dip there may come an equally major rise. Thus, in 1861, the price of oil was about $15 (measured in 2015 dollars), soared to $120 just 5 years later, then dropped to $40 and rose again by 1870 – to $80 a barrel. Nowadays, starting from 1971, we’ve been observing similar volatility.
What will actually happen to oil prices? This question is asked by many as the price direction has an impact not only on currency exchange rates, stock market indices, prices of shares but also on the fortunes of whole nations and countries.
John Gordon, leading analyst at international broker company NordFX, says, “In fact, there were some positive price dynamics early this year but it’s still difficult to make any definitive predictions. Experts’ opinions differ drastically. For instance, not so long ago the Bloomberg agency spread the word that oil market profiteers began to buy short contracts that would pay off only if the price of oil plunged to $15 a barrel. On the other hand, according to experts from Austria’s Raiffeisen Banking Group, over two years the price may reach $100.”
These are extreme views while most forecasts aren’t that opposite and range within the amounts of $40-60. As such, Moody's Investors Service believes that the price of one barrel in 2016 will be $43. About the same figure of $45 is sounded by Russia’s largest oil producing company Rosneft. The World Bank puts it even higher, although it downgraded the outlook from $57 to $52.
Swiss UBS Group AG gives quite an optimistic forecast. Its specialists think that by the third quarter of 2016, the oil market will balance out and the price will settle within $60-67. Michael Hulme, a fund manager at Carmignac Gestion, a French investment group, shared a similar opinion with The Times, “On a 12 to 18-month view, oil prices should normalize back to the marginal cost of supply of at least $60." Mohammed A. El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz, raises the bar even higher. He doesn’t reckon that the price of oil will return to $100 a barrel and suggests $70-80 for 2016.
John Gordon from NordFX sums up, “If all positive forecasts are put together, the average price of oil comes to about $60 a barrel. There’re actually reasons to be hopeful. Sure, a lot hinges on the output by the USA and OPEC countries. One can’t overlook such factor as production costs which, for example, average at $57-58 for US shale oil fields. At this time, the USA and the OPEC still can sell oil at the price below production costs and make up for it by profits from futures contracts sold earlier. However, this can’t go on forever as the price of futures dropped as well.”
Besides oil companies, exporting countries also need to regain their positions and replenish coffers. For one, Venezuela is in a catastrophic situation, and the government officially declared a humanitarian crisis in the country. Under these circumstances, the OPEC can’t help but cut production quotas. Its experts believe that the United States too will reduce output by over 400,000 barrels a day this year.
“When making investment decisions, among other things it’s important to take into account that energy commodity prices markedly affect not only exchange cross rates but the biggest stock markets as well,” says the NordFX analyst. “Alongside Forex services, our company offers binary options trading with such assets as shares of leading oil and industrial companies as well as all major stock indices. Charts clearly show a correlation between their quotes and oil prices – the US stock market declines when oil prices go down and, conversely, is on the rise when the price of black gold climbs up.”
This being said, many experts warn that a rapid hike in oil prices shouldn’t be counted on. In his interview for the Edmonton Journal, FirstEnergy Capital’s analyst Martin King told that before a rise, prices might drop to $30 again. Active growth can be expected only in the third and fourth quarters 2016.