Current tensions between North Korea and the international community, but especially the U.S., South Korea and China are bound to continue and threaten military conflict that could escalate to a previously unthinkable outcome. While oil and gas trade with North Korea is quite small, any threat of military action in the region will impact shipping and lift the price of waterborne goods.
This morning the Trump Administration indicated that U.S. policy towards North Korea is moving from “strategic patience” to “strategic accountability”. That summary of the current situation seems far less bellicose than recent statements by either side. Moreover, U.S. policy is focused on encouraging China to step in more proactively, which gives the impression that U.S. direct action is still arm’s length away. Yet, as discussed below, misperceptions on both sides could quickly lead either side to escalate from statements to action.
Saudi denial of oil tankers entering a Yemeni port brought the Yemeni conflict to the fore in the oil sector. While the oil implications are negligible, the movement of the conflict towards the sea raises the potential for an accidental incident leading to direct conflict between the Saudi coalition and Iran, and the U.S.
The Syrian ceasefire agreed by Russia and the U.S. could lead to a stabilization of some portions of Syria and reduce the chances of direct clashes between Russian and American aircraft, but it does not appear that enough of the important factions are currently satisfied with their positions to lay the groundwork for a larger, negotiated settlement.
Oil & Gas Journal June 21, 2017
Elisabeth Murphy of ESAI said, “Although the pace of growth is expected to slow next year, US shale production is forecast to be about 500,000 b/d higher in 2018 than 2017, still very impressive growth.”
This is more than a diplomatic row among GCC members. Perhaps emboldened by President Trump’s visit, Saudi Arabia and its allies have declared if you are with Iran (or specific radical Sunni groups), you are against us. This effort to delineate sides in the region cannot be easily reversed without substantial outside pressure. Expect a geopolitical premium to creep into energy prices as this dispute continues.
OPEC is very much alive, and has just extended its production restraint through the rest of 2017 and the
first quarter of 2018, improving the outlook for 2017 and maybe even 2018.
World Pipelines May 24, 2017
Elisabeth Murphy, analyst at ESAI Energy, points out that “until oil prices get closer to US$60 producers will continue to target the Bakken core where well performance is very high.
Notwithstanding the pageantry of the U.S. President visiting Saudi Arabia and the enthusiasm of young Iranians hailing their moderate President’s reelection, little changed in terms of the region’s political stability, the battle with ISIS or oil policy this weekend. The clearest signal from the weekend was the public and forceful assertion that the U.S. has allied itself with the Saudis versus Iran, which can only have stoked the age-old rivalry. This should not impact OPEC dealings this week as Iran’s production is near a top, but it is likely to have repercussions down the road when (and if) Iran’s productive capacity rises.
Bloomberg May 18, 2017
“The producers will have to work hard this summer to temper the surplus in the first quarter,” Sarah Emerson, managing director of ESAI Energy in Wakefield, Massachusetts, said …
A victory on May 19 by the moderate incumbent, President Hassan Rouhani, would improve the outlook for Iran’s oil sector. Economic growth jumped after the nuclear deal and the lifting of the oil embargo, but Iran will have to pursue both higher production and higher prices to realize the economic recovery Rouhani has promised.
World Oil: April 25, 2017
Elisabeth Murphy, analyst at ESAI Energy, explains, “the price discount at Midland will ease as more crude makes its way to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Reuters: April 19, 2017
“At this point, there are no good reasons to rail crude to the East Coast,” said Sarah Emerson, a managing principal at ESAI Energy LLC, a consultancy.
Argus Media : March 6, 2017
Canadian crude supplies to the US Gulf coast could increase by 300,000-400,000 b/d by 2021, Energy Security Analysis president Sarah Emerson said during the Canadian Energy Research Institute’s oil and gas symposium.
Arab News : Feb 25, 2017
ESAI Energy President Sarah Emerson also warned that Trump’s ideas could be difficult to implement.
“All of that is working against the huge question about deficit, and some Republicans and all the Democrats would have to object,” she said during a speech at IP Week.