US Crude Output Set to Tap Record in 2023 Amid Rising Rigs
Comment of the Day

December 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

US Crude Output Set to Tap Record in 2023 Amid Rising Rigs

This note from Bloomberg may be of interest. Here it is in full

U.S. crude oil production in 2023 is forecast at 12.34m b/d, an all-time high and revised up slightly from 12.31m b/d projected in November, EIA says in monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook

2022 output estimated at 11.87m b/d vs 11.83m b/d

Output to grow annually in 2023 at an average rate of 470k b/d vs prior forecast of 480k b/d

See here the forecast for US fuel demand in 2023:

Gasoline demand revised up to 8.77m b/d from 8.75m previous forecast
Distillate consumption seen at 3.94m b/d from 3.93m
Jet fuel use estimated at 1.64m b/d from 1.57m

EIA sees contraction in US economic activity in Q4 2022 and Q1 2023, though will be shorter and milder than previously forecast

Eoin Treacy's view

The go-go days of limitless spending on securing leases and active drilling are receding into the distant past. The peak in the horizontal rig count was in 2014 at almost 1400. Since then the focus of investors and companies has turned towards sustainable profitability. Concurrently many institutional investors now also have to worry much more about environmental sustainability.

The most recent peak at the beginning of 2019 was below 1000. Activity collapsed during the pandemic but the number of active rigs has recovered steadily. It currently sits at 711 and is unlikely to increase very much more because oil prices are rolling over.

The simple fact is that unconventional oil and gas is much more capital intensive than conventional drilling. That implies greater interest rate sensitivity. The initial prolific rate of production offers immediate leverage so it makes sense to drill when prices are high. The opposite is true when prices fall.
Brent crude fell through the psychological $80 area today. If this breakdown is sustained it would represent a decline back into the 2015-2021 base formation and would deeply question any conviction that a new secular bull market in oil is underway.
The Energy SPDR continues to pause in the region of the 2008 and 2014 peaks. These high prices are unlikely to be sustained if oil’s weakness persists. 

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