Oil Market Outlook 2014
Comment of the Day

December 10 2013

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Market Outlook 2014

Thanks to a subscriber for this educative report from DNB which is sure to be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Recently Lynn helms, the head of North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources stated that 86% of the state¡¯s output has break even prices of 45 $/b or lower. This is much lower numbers that we have seen in earlier calculations. The break even price includes 10 % cost of capital and is after tax and royalties according to the Department. The break even prices for the top 4 counties in the Bakken field was said to be 40 $/b for Williams, 37 $/b for Mountrail, 26 $/b for McKenzie and 31 $/b for Dunn. These are low numbers, but note that they would be well-head break evens which means you will have to add maybe 5-15 $/b in transportation costs to reach a refinery. Still if the break even costs to reach the sea is 45 $/b plus 15 $/b, this is lower than the estimates we have operated with so far. We will probably have a test of the North Dakota Break even prices when we get the reported November numbers from the oil industry in North Dakota because in November the price for Bakken crude oil into the Clearbrook pipeline system was about 80 $/b. If this price was not low enough to dent any activity in the Bakken it may indicate that the break even costs are on their way down rather than up in North Dakota. According to Wood Mackenzie the break even price for Bakken is at 62 $/b. Also this is meaningfully lower than the 77 $/b we have been leaning on as the average Bakken break even price calculated by PIRA Energy. PIRA is however telling us that they are about to revise their break even calculations for the Bakken lower these days.

There are many numbers floating around and what we should probably focus on is the development reported by the key players in the shale industry. It is probably not very relevant to put any weight on what small insignificant producers may report of IP-rates, break even costs, drilling time, etc, etc. In the US shale oil industry (note this is not shale gas) there are 25 players that are behind most of the volume produced. We have made a list of these players in the Appendix. The largest shale oil player is by far EOG, but other players are on the rise. Note that this list of 25 players only includes 3 International Oil Companies (NOC¡¯s). This industry is in other words not at all driven by the large international integrated oil companies. Note that Royal Dutch Shell is not at the list at all. The largest of the oil supermajors is ConocoPhilips. Our point is that if you wish to follow the broad development of costs and efficiency in this industry you should focus on the 25 names mentioned in the Appendix. Don't waste effort in looking at the development for the very small players (unless you are evaluating investing directly in them of course¡­)

Eoin Treacy's view

Here is a link to the above report

At FTMoney.com we have defined peak oil in terms of the rising cost of production and this is borne out in the fact that much of the new supply now reaching market is at a cost substantially above that of providers such as Saudi Arabia. As a result we can conclude that while the medium-term outlook for oil prices is for lower to lateral ranging, prices are unlikely to fall below the marginal cost of new unconventional production.

Among the top producers of unconventional oil mentioned in the above report, EOG Resources has almost completely unwound its overbought condition relative to the 200-day MA and will need to find support in the current region if the medium-term uptrend is to continue to be considered consistent. Chesapeake Energy has held a progression of higher reaction lows since mid 2012. It has been consolidating above the 200-day MA and the $45 area for the last six months and a sustained move below that level would be required to question medium-term scope for additional upside. Conoco Philips encountered resistance near $76 from early October and remains in a process of mean reversion. 

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