Följ oss


Extremely tight platinum and palladium markets



Commerzbank commodities research

Commerzbank commoditiesThe South African platinum mining industry has been affected by strikes for more than ten weeks now. Because stocks are dwindling, the mining companies concerned are finding it increasingly difficult to fulfil their contractual delivery obligations. The situation as regards palladium is dominated by concerns about how Russia might react if the West were to impose further-reaching sanctions on the country. At the same time, demand on both markets is robust, driven by the automotive industry. The situation appears to be tightening noticeably, which in our opinion suggests that platinum and palladium prices will rise.

Commerzbank forecasts 2014Platinum came under pressure from the weak gold price in March and declined noticeably as a result. For a time it dropped below the $1,400 per troy ounce mark to a six-week low. Palladium fared somewhat better and trended sideways while fluctuating significantly. For the first time since August 2011, it actually exceeded the $800 per troy ounce mark for a while, though it was unable to maintain this level (Chart 1). We believe that both precious metal prices are too low from a fundamental viewpoint given the risks to supply. In this Commodity Spotlight we will be assessing the supply situation in South Africa, the world’s biggest platinum producer and the world’s number two palladium producer, as well as taking a look at Russia, the biggest supplier of palladium.

Platinum price

According to figures from Johnson Matthey, South Africa produced 4.12 million ounces of platinum and 2.35 million ounces of palladium last year, thus accounting for 72% of global platinum mining production and 37% of global palladium mining production (Chart 2). Palladium is generally mined together with platinum. However, a strike has been underway in the South African platinum mining industry since 23 January. The radical AMCU (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) called its members out on strike to lend emphasis to its calls for wage hikes. The union, which was established in 1998 and formally registered in 2001, represents the majority of workers in the platinum mining industry and has meanwhile overtaken the more moderate union NUM (National Union of Mineworkers) in terms of membership. The world’s three biggest platinum producers are affected: Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin, 87% of whose workers are union members. Accounting for 66% of these, the AMCU predominates (Chart 3). Over 70,000 workers went out on strike when called upon to do so. The strike is the biggest to hit the South African mining sector since the Apartheid regime ended in 1994. 350,000 workers took to the streets in 1987 to protest for better working conditions, though this strike was brought to an end after around three weeks and cost the mining companies around ZAR 250 million at the time, according to the NUM.

AMCU and platinum

Union and companies still far apart

The AMCU is calling for producers to increase wages significantly, its core demand being that entry-level salaries be doubled to ZAR 12,500 per month. Originally, the AMCU urged the mining companies to meet its demands immediately, though it has meanwhile shown itself willing to “make some concessions”. AMCU has “eased” its core demand in two stages, with the result that it now wishes to see wages doubled within four years. For their part, the companies have offered staggered wage increases over the course of three years – 9% in the first year, 8% in the second and 7.5% in the third. In February, the rate of inflation in South Africa was 5.9%. In other words, the two parties still maintain positions that are very far apart. To date, the state mediator engaged to help (CCMA – Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) has failed to bring the two parties any closer together. In fact, talks were actually suspended for a time because the mediator saw no possibility of agreement.

Politicians exercise restraint ahead of elections

So far, politicians have chosen not to intervene in the strike, clearly because of the upcoming elections in South Africa. Parliamentary elections will be held on 7 May, with presidential elections to follow in the second half of the year. The mine workers make up a major group of voters which neither the governing party ANC (African National Congress) nor the opposition parties wish to alienate. Polls indicate that the ANC is likely to win the elections, though it remains to be seen whether this will subsequently result in the necessary reforms being implemented which would also steer the mining industry into calmer waters. Recently, the South African finance minister played down the strike’s negative impact on the local economy, claiming that the current strike is causing less damage than the industrial actions taken two years ago. In 2012, a series of strikes cost gold and platinum producers more than ZAR 16 billion.

High revenue losses for companies and lost earnings for workers

By their own account, the mining companies concerned are losing 9,900 ounces of platinum production every day – 4,000 ounces at Anglo American Platinum, 2,800 ounces at Impala Platinum and 3,100 ounces at Lonmin. Assuming that work generally continues in the mines seven days a week, the producers have thus lost nearly 700,000 ounces of production since the beginning of the strike. The companies claim that they have lost revenues totalling over ZAR 11 billion as a result. So far, workers who are not being paid while they are out on strike have lost earnings of around ZAR 5 billion.

Company stocks dwindling

Although production has been at a standstill since the beginning of the strike, the companies have been able at least partly to fulfil their delivery obligations by drawing on stocks. By their own account, the producers had piled up considerable stocks in the run-up to the strike, which industrial sources estimated would last two months. The situation is not the same in all the companies, however. Anglo American Platinum had for example announced at the end of March that it had used up half of its 430,000 ounces of stocks up to that point, saying that material would be bought on the market if stocks ran out. By contrast, Impala Platinum had already declared “force majeure” in early March and has no longer been able to guarantee deliveries since the beginning of April. Impala is likewise considering buying in material on the market in order to meet its contractual obligations. Lonmin had also downwardly revised its sales forecasts for this year at an early stage.

Negative long-term impact cannot be excluded

Even if the strike can be brought to an end, it will take weeks if not months before platinum production achieves its pre-strike levels again. After all, the damage in shafts and galleries resulting from the lack of use first has to be identified and, most importantly of all, safety has to be restored. In some cases the companies are already talking about irreparable damage and are considering shutting down individual shafts entirely. There are also likely to be some redundancies because the companies claim that they will otherwise no longer be able to operate at a profit. This could spark renewed protests and set in motion a vicious circle which would harm the entire country.

Concers about supply outages in Russia

As far as palladium is concerned, we need to take a look at Russia. According to data from Johnson Matthey, Russia accounted for 42% of worldwide palladium supply in 2013 (primary production and reserve sales together totalling 2.7 million ounces) and for 14% of global platinum production (780,000 ounces), making the country the largest producer of palladium and the second-largest producer of platinum. The situation here is dominated by concerns about the extent to which possible sanctions imposed by the West on Russia could hit this sector and how Russia might react to further-reaching sanctions against its economy. That said, there are no signs so far that deliveries from Russia are at risk. According to the UK’s Financial Times, however, Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest palladium producer, is currently negotiating longterm palladium and platinum supply contracts with Chinese and Japanese buyers. Although this might not mean anything, it could perhaps be viewed as a not particularly subtle hint to the West.

Robust demand from the automotive industry

Automotive industry drives demand for platinum and palladiumDriven by the automotive industry, demand for both platinum and palladium is robust. March saw the seasonally adjusted annualized vehicle sales rate in the US rise to 16.33 million units, the highest figure since May 2007. At 3.16 million units, car sales in China in January and February combined were a good 11% up on the same period last year. It would therefore seem that the 2014 target of an increase in sales of up to 10%, set by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, is achievable. The European auto industry may also have bottomed out, for car sales in February increased year-on-year for the sixth consecutive month (Chart 4).

New palladium ETF on the market

New palladium ETF could generate growing investment demandWhen it comes to investment demand, market participants evidently switched their allegiance from palladium to platinum in the first quarter. While the palladium ETFs tracked by Bloomberg recorded outflows of 51,900 ounces, the platinum ETFs saw inflows of 53,600 ounces. That said, the trend could soon be reversed in the case of palladium (Chart 5), for South African investment bank Absa Capital launched its long-awaited palladium ETF at the end of March. The ETF is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and solely sourced with palladium from South Africa. If the palladium ETF follows the same course as Absa Capital’s platinum ETF, which was launched at the end of April 2013, a great deal of supply could be stripped from the market. Within just four months of its launch, the platinum ETF became the world’s biggest platinum ETF and at the end of March had a market share of 37% with over 952,000 ounces. Holdings in all platinum ETFs combined are equivalent to more than five months of global mining production, while holdings in palladium ETFs equate to nearly four months of global production.

Higher prices expected during the course of the year

In our opinion, risks to supply in conjunction with robust demand point to higher platinum and palladium prices. According to data from Johnson Matthey, the supply-demand situation was already tight on both markets last year, the global platinum market showing a supply deficit of 605,000 ounces in 2013 and demand outstripping supply on the global palladium market by 740,000 ounces. Assuming the supply problems are not resolved in the near future and demand remains robust, the situation on both markets will doubtless tighten further. By year’s end we continue to envisage a platinum price of $1,600 per troy ounce, while palladium is likely to be trading at $825 per troy ounce.

Fortsätt läsa
Klicka för att kommentera

Skriv ett svar

Din e-postadress kommer inte publiceras. Obligatoriska fält är märkta *


Now it’s up to OPEC+



SEB - analysbrev på råvaror

All eyes are now back at OPEC+ after the recent fall in oil prices along with weakening crude curve structures and weakening economic statistics. OPEC+ will have to step up the game and give solid guidance of what it intends to do in 2024. If Saudi Arabia is to carry the burden alone (with only a little help from Russia) it will likely need to keep its production at around 9.0 m b/d on average for 2024 and drop it down towards 8.5 m b/d in Q1-24. This may be too much to ask from Saudi Arabia and it may demand some of the other OPEC members to step up and join in on the task to regulate the market in 2024. More specifically this means Iraq, Kuwait and UAE. The oil market will likely be quite nervous until a firm message from Saudi/Russia/OPEC+ is delivered to the market some time in December.

Bjarne Schieldrop, Chief analyst commodities at SEB
Bjarne Schieldrop, Chief analyst commodities, SEB

Saudi Arabia may get some help from President Joe Biden though as his energy secretary adviser, Amos Hochstein, has stated that the US will enforce sanctions on Iran on more than 1 m b/d. 

Brent crude fell 4.6% ydy to USD 77.4/b and over the last three trading sessions it has lost USD 5.1/b. This morning it is trading only marginally higher at USD 77.6/b which is no vote of confidence. A good dose of rebound this morning would have been a signal that the sell-off yesterday possibly was exaggerated and solely driven by investors with long positions flocking to the exit. So there’s likely more downside to come.

In general there is a quite good relationship between net long speculative positions in Brent crude and WTI versus the global manufacturing cycle. Oil investors overall typically have an aversion of holding long positions in oil when the global economy is slowing down. As of yet there are few signs that the global economic cycle is about to turn. Rather the opposite seems to be the case. Global manufacturing fell in October and yesterday we saw US industrial production fall 0.6% MoM while continued jobless claims rose more than expected and to the highest level in two years. This matches well with the logic that the strong rise in interest rates since March 2022 is inflicting pain on the economy with more pain ahead as the effect comes with a lag.

Most estimates are that the global oil market is running a solid deficit in Q4-23. The IEA has an implied deficit in the global oil market of 1 m b/d in Q4-23 if we assume that OPEC will produce 28 m b/d vs. a call-on-OPEC at 29 m b/d. But prices in the oil market is telling a different story with weakening crude curves, weakening refining margins and a sharp sell-off in oil prices.

For 2024 the general forecasts are that global economic growth will slow, global oil demand growth will slow and also that the need for oil from OPEC will fall from 28.7 m b/d to 28.4 m b/d (IEA). This is a bearish environment for oil. The average Brent crude oil price so far this year is about USD 83/b. It should essentially be expected to deliver lower in 2024 with the negatives mentioned above.

Two things however will likely counter this and they are interconnected. US shale oil activity has been slowing with falling drilling rig count since early December 2022 and that has been happening at an average WTI price of USD 78/b. The result is that total US liquids production is set to grow by only 0.3 m b/d YoY in Q4-24. This allows OPEC+ to support the oil price at USD 80-90/b through 2024 without fear of loosing a significant market share to US oil production. Thus slowing US liquids production and active price management by OPEC+ goes hand in hand. As such we do expect OPEC+ to step up to the task.

So far it has predominantly been Saudi Arabia with a little help from Russia which together proactively have managed the oil market and the oil price through significant cuts. Saudi Arabia produced 10.5 m b/d in April but then cut production rapidly to only 9.0 m b/d which is what it still produces. Its normal production is about 10 m b/d.

What has made the situation more difficult for Saudi Arabia is the combination of solid growth in non-OPEC supply in 2023 (+2.1 m b/d YoY; IEA) but also a substantial revival in production by Venezuela and Iran. The two produced 660 k b/d more in October than they on average did in 2022. So the need for oil from Saudi Arabia is squeezed from both sides.

All eyes are now back at OPEC+ after the recent fall in oil prices along with weakening crude curve structures and weakening economic statistics.

OPEC+ will have to step up the game and give solid guidance of what it intends to do in 2024. If Saudi Arabia is to carry the burden alone (with only a little help from Russia) then it will likely need to keep its production at around 9.0 m b/d on average for 2024 and drop it down towards 8.5 m b/d in Q1-24. This may be too much to ask from Saudi Arabia and it may demand some of the other OPEC members to step up and join in on the task to regulate the market in 2024. More specifically this means Iraq, Kuwait and UAE.

The oil market will likely be quite nervous until a firm message from Saudi/Russia/OPEC+ is delivered to the market some time in December.

Saudi Arabia may get some help from President Joe Biden though as his energy secretary adviser, Amos Hochstein, has stated that the US will enforce sanctions on Iran on more than 1 m b/d.

Fortsätt läsa


More from Venezuela and Iran means smaller pie for Saudi



SEB - analysbrev på råvaror

Production in Venezuela and Iran is on the rise and is set to rise further in the coming months and in 2024. Combined their production could grow by 0.8 m b/d YoY to 2024 (average year to average year). The IEA projected in its latest OMR (Oct-2023) that call-on-OPEC will fall to 28.3 m b/d in 2024, a decline of 0.5 m b/d. This combination would drive implied call-on-Saudi from 10.4 m b/d in 2023 to only 9.1 m b/d in 2024 and as low as 8.6 m b/d in Q1-24 if Saudi Arabia has to do all the heavy lifting alone. Wider core OPEC cooperation may be required.

Bjarne Schieldrop, Chief analyst commodities at SEB
Bjarne Schieldrop, Chief analyst commodities, SEB

The IEA is out in the news today projecting peak oil demand this decade with global demand standing at no more than 102 m b/d towards the end of this decade. If so it would imply a call-on-Non-OPEC of only 66.4 m b/d in 2028 assuming that OPEC in general will demand a market share of 30 m b/d + NGL of 5.6 m b/d. The IEA (Oct-23) projects non-OPEC production to average 68.8 m b/d in 2024. That’s already 2.4 m b/d more than what would be sustainable over time if global oil demand is set to peak later this decade. Oil producers in general cannot have a production growth strategy in a peak oil demand world.

The US has decided to lift sanctions towards Venezuela for six months (18 April) as a measure to tempt it to move towards more democratic processes. And if it does, then the lifting of sanctions could continue after the 6 months. A primary opposition election took place this weekend with lawmaker Maria Corina Machado currently holding 93% of the vote count. Venezuela will next year hold a presidential election but fair play seems unlikely with Maduro in charge. The lifting of sanctions allows Venezuela’s PdV to resume exports to all destinations. Bans on new, foreign investments in the oil and gas sector are also lifted though Russian entities and JV’s are still barred.

Venezuela produced 0.8 m b/d in September and indicates that it can lift production by 0.2 m b/d by year and with more rigs and wells by 0.5 m b/d to 1.3 m b/d in the medium term.

Oil production in Iran has been on a steady rise since its low-point of 2.0 m b/d in 2020. Last year it produced 2.5 m b/d. In September it produced 3.1 m b/d, but Iran’s oil minister says production now is at 3.3 m b/d. Iran’s rising production and exports is not about the US being more lenient in its enforcement of sanctions towards Iran. It is more about Iran finding better ways to circumvent them but even more importantly that China is importing more and more oil from Iran.

Production by Iran and Venezuela is recovering. YoY production from the two could rise by close to 0.8 m b/d in 2024. This will lead to a decline in call-on-Saudi oil. 

Oil production by Iran and Venezuela
Source: SEB graph and asessments, Blbrg data and news

The IEA estimated in its latest OMR report that call-on-OPEC will fall from 28.8 m b/d in 2023 to 28.3 m b/d in 2024. If all OPEC members except Saudi Arabia produces the same amount in 2024 as in 2023, then the need for Saudi Arabia’s oil (call-on-Saudi) will fall from a healthy 10.4 m b/d in 2023 to a still acceptable 9.9 m b/d in 2024. Its normal production is roughly 10 m b/d.

If however production by Iran and Venezuela rise by a combined 0.5 m b/d YoY in 2024, then call-on-Saudi will fall to 9.4 m b/d which is not so good but still manageable. But if Iran’s oil minister is correct when he says that its current production now is at 3.3 m b/d, then it is not far fetched to assume that Iran’s oil production may average maybe 3.4-3.5 m b/d in 2024. That would yield a YoY rise of 0.6 m b/d just for Iran. If we also assume that Venezuela manages to lift its production from 0.8 m b/d this year to 1.0 m b/d in 2024, then the combined growth from the two is closer to 0.8 m b/d. That would push call-on-Saudi down to only 9.1 m b/d which is not good at all. It would require Saudi Arabia to produce at its current production of 9.0 m b/d all through 2024.

The IEA further estimates that call-on-OPEC will average 27.7 m b/d in Q1-24. If we assume Iran @ 3.4 m b/d and Venezuela @ 1.0 m b/d then call-on-Saudi in Q1-24 will only be 8.6 m b/d. I.e. Saudi Arabia will have to cut production further to 8.6 m b/d in Q1-24. At that point Saudi Arabia will likely need or like other core OPEC members like Iraq, Kuwait and UAE as well as Russia to join in.

Implied call-on-Saudi. Call-on-OPEC is set to decline from 28.8 m b/d to 28.3 m b/d to 2024. If all OPEC members produced the same in 2024 as in 2023 then call-on-Saudi would fall by 0.5 m b/d to 9.9 m b/d. But if Venezuela and Iran increases their combined production by 0.8 m b/d YoY in 2024 then call-on-Saudi falls to 9.1 m b/d.

Implied call-on-Saudi.
Source: SEB graph and calculations, IEA data

If we look a little broader on this topic and also include Libya, Nigeria and Angola we see that this group of OPEC members produced 11.4 m b/d in 2010, 10.1 m b/d in 2017 and only 5.1 m b/d at the low-point in August 2020. The decline by these OPEC members has of course the other OPEC and OPEC+ members to stem the rising flood of US shale oil production. The production from this unfortunate group of OPEC-laggards is however now on the rise reaching 7.5 m b/d in September. With more from Iran and Venezuela it could rise to 8.0 m b/d in 2024. Production from Nigeria and Angola though still looks to be in gradual decline while Libya looks more sideways. So for the time being it is all about the revival of Iran and Venezuela.

The unfortunate OPEC-laggards had a production of 11.4 m b/d in 2010. But production then fell to only 5.1 m b/d in August 2020. It helped the rest of OPEC’s members to manage the huge increase in US shale oil production. Production from these countries are now on the rebound. Though Nigeria and Angola still seems to be in gradual decline.

Oil production of some OPEC countries
Source: SEB graph, Blbrg data

What everyone needs to be attentive to is that call-on-OPEC and even more importantly call-on-Saudi can only erode to a limit before Saudi/OPEC/Russia will have to take action. Especially if the forecast for needed oil from OPEC/Saudi for the nearest 2-3 years is in significant decline. Then they will have to take action in the sense that they stop defending the price and allows the price to fall sharply along with higher production. And yet again it is US shale oil producers who will have to take the brunt of the pain. They are the only oil producers in the world who can naturally and significantly reduce their production rather quickly. I.e. the US shale oil players will have to be punished into obedience, if possible, yet one more time.

We don’t think that it is any immediate risk for this to happen as US shale oil activity is slowing while global oil demand has rebounded following Covid-lockdowns. But one needs to keep a watch on projections for call-on-OPEC and call-on-Saudi stretching 1-2-3 years forward on a continuous basis. 

In its medium term oil market outlook, Oil2023, the IEA projected a fairly healthy development for call-on-OPEC to 2028. First bottoming out at 29.4 m b/d in 2024 before rising gradually to 30.6 m b/d in 2028. The basis for this was a slowing though steady rise in global oil demand to 105.7 m b/d in 2028 together with stagnant non-OPEC production due to muted capex spending over the past decade. But this projection has already been significantly dented and reduced in IEA’s latest OMR from October where call-on-OPEC for 2024 is projected at only 28.3 m b/d.

In a statement today the IEA projects that global oil demand will peak this decade and consume no more than 102 m b/d in the late 2020ies due to (in large part) rapid growth in EV sales. This would imply a call-on-OPEC of only 26.9 m b/d in 2028. It is not a viable path for OPEC to produce only 26.9 m b/d in 2028. Especially if production by Iran and Venezuela is set to revive. I.e. OPEC’s pie is shrinking while at the same time Iran and Venezuela is producing more. In this outlook something will have to give and it is not OPEC. 

One should here turn this on its head and assume that OPEC will produce 30 m b/d in 2028. Add OPEC NGLs of 5.6 m b/d and we get 35.6 m b/d. If global oil demand in 2028 stands at only 102 m b/d then call-on-Non-OPEC equates to 66.4 m b/d. That is 3.1 m b/d less than IEA’s non-OPEC production projection for 2028 of 69.5 m b/d but also higher than non-OPEC production projection of 68.8 m b/d (IEA, Oct-23) is already 2.4 m b/d too high versus what is a sustainable level.

What this of course naturally means is that oil producers in general cannot have production growth as a strategy in a peak-oil-demand-world with non-OPEC in 2024 already at 2.4 m b/d above its sustainable level.

The US is set to growth its hydrocarbon liquids by 0.5 m b/d YoY in 2024. But in a zero oil demand growth world that is way, way too much.

Fortsätt läsa


Reloading the US ’oil-gun’ (SPR) will have to wait until next downturn



SEB - analysbrev på råvaror

Brent crude traded down 0.4% earlier this morning to USD 91.8/b but is unchanged at USD 92.2/b at the moment. Early softness was probably mostly about general market weakness than anything specific to oil as copper is down 0.7% while European equities are down 0.3%. No one knows the consequences of what a ground invasion of Gaza by Israel may bring except that it will be very, very bad for Palestinians, for Middle East politics for geopolitics and potentially destabilizing for global oil markets. As of yet the oil market seems to struggle with how to price the situation with fairly little risk premium priced in at the moment as far as we can see. Global financial markets however seems to have a clearer bearish take on this. Though rallying US rates and struggling Chinese property market may be part of that.

Bjarne Schieldrop, Chief analyst commodities at SEB
Bjarne Schieldrop, Chief analyst commodities, SEB

The US has drawn down its Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) over the latest years to only 50% of capacity. Crude oil prices would probably have to rally to USD 150-200/b before the US would consider pushing another 100-200 m b from SPR into the commercial market. As such the fire-power of its SPR as a geopolitical oil pricing tool is now somewhat muted. The US would probably happily re-load its SPR but it is very difficult to do so while the global oil market is running a deficit. It will have to wait to the next oil market downturn. But that also implies that the next downturn will likely be fairly short-lived and also fairly shallow. Unless of course the US chooses to forgo the opportunity.  

The US has drawn down its Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) to only 50% of capacity over the latest years. Most of the draw-down was in response to the crisis in Ukraine as it was invaded by Russia with loss of oil supply from Russia thereafter.

The US has however no problems with security of supply of crude oil. US refineries have preferences for different kinds of crude slates and as a result it still imports significant volumes of crude of different qualities. But overall it is a net exporter of hydrocarbon liquids. It doesn’t need all that big strategic reserves as a security of supply any more. Following the oil crisis in the early 70ies the OECD countries created the International Energy Agency where all its members aimed to have some 100 days of forward oil import coverage. With US oil production at steady decline since the 70ies the US reached a peak in net imports of 13.4 m b/d in 2006. As such it should have held an SPR of 1340 million barrels. It kept building its SPR which peaked at 727 m b in 2012. But since 2006 its net imports have been in sharp decline and today it has a net export of 2.9 m b/d.

Essentially the US doesn’t need such a sizable SPR any more to secure coverage of its daily consumption. As a result it started to draw down its SPR well before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. But then of course it fell fast and is today at 351 m b or about 50% of capacity.

The US is the largest oil consumer in the world. As such it is highly vulnerable to the price level of oil. The US SPR today is much more of a geopolitical tool than a security of supply tool. It’s a tool to intervene in the global oil market. To intervene in the price setting of oil. The US SPR is now drawn down to 50% but it still holds a sizable amount of oil. But it is little in comparison to the firepower of OPEC. Saudi Arabia can lower its production by 1 m b/d for one year and it will have eradicated 365 million barrels in global oil inventories. And then it can the same the year after and then the year after that again.

The US has now fired one big bullet of SPR inventory draws. It really helped to balance the global oil market last year and prevented oil prices from going sky high. With 350 m b left in its SPR it can still do more if needed. But the situation would likely need to be way more critical before the US would consider pushing yet another 100-200 m b of oil from its SPR into the global commercial oil market. An oil price of USD 150-200/b would probably be needed before it would do so.

With new geopolitical realities the US probably will want to rebuild its SPR to higher levels as it is now an important geopolitical tool and an oil price management tool. But rebuilding the SPR now while the global oil market is running a deficit is a no-go as we see it.

An oil market downturn, a global recession, a global oil market surplus where OPEC no longer want to defend the oil price with reduced supply is needed for the US to be able to refill its SPR again unless it wants to drive the oil price significantly higher.

But this also implies that the next oil price downturn will likely be short-lived and shallow as the US will have to use that opportunity to rebuild its SPR. It’s kind off like reloading its geopolitical oil gun. If it instead decides to forgo such an opportunity then it will have to accept that its geopolitical maneuverability in the global oil market stays muted.

Net US oil imports in m b/d and US Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) in million barrels. The US doesn’t need strategic petroleum reserves for the sake of security of supply any more. But it is a great geopolitical energy-tool to intervene in the price setting of oil in the global market place.

Net US oil imports in m b/d and US Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) in million barrels
Source: SEB graph, EIA data from Blbrg
Fortsätt läsa