Energy markets have been in turmoil since the OPEC announcement Wednesday last week that the group would not be cutting production. Although it was widely expected that OPEC would not take any production cuts at the meeting, the markets’ reaction to the actual announcement was drastic with oil prices declining 7% that day and continuing to slide to the now below $60. The tone of the market has shifted dramatically and there are talks about the possibility of $60-70ish oil for the next 6-9 months if not longer. The fundamental issue is that the oil market is oversupplied.
The vast majority of Energy sector experts’ comments this week indicate that OPEC will likely revisit its stance on production cuts over the next 6-9 months. “For many OPEC members, including Libya, Iraq, Algeria, and Venezuela, $60-70 oil poses a huge problem. The majority of OPEC countries need $90+ Brent oil prices in order to fund their social programs and are at high risk of social instability if these programs are cut. Even Saudi Arabia, which has significant foreign currency reserves to cover any shortfall in revenues has a huge population to support and high committed program costs which would eat through those reserves quickly at current oil prices (according to the IMF). “ wrote the BMO Energy sector team this week. (1)
“We continue to believe that the marginal cost of the majority of new oil production (full-cycle) is north of $80. Oil is a depleting resource and, over time, oil prices must migrate back to the marginal cost of supply in order to support new production. However, that does not mean that oil cannot trade below marginal cost for a period of time. We would expect that supply/demand fundamentals will improve through the back half of 2015 and become more balanced as we move into 2016. However, the oil market is complex and highly unpredictable and conditions can change very quickly. The imbalance in the market is not huge and history has taught us that supply disruptions are common. “ (1)
The Franklin Templeton Energy Sector team wrote a similar analysis this week. They too believe that low oil prices are not here to stay for the long term. “The marginal barrel-of-oil production growth cannot be profitably brought to market in the current oil price environment by private industry, nor can OPEC members balance their budgets, in our view necessitating higher prices in the future. In the short term, we may see various energy companies contend with low oil prices through a combination of reduced capital spending, asset dispositions and adjustments to dividend levels as necessary. “ (2)
To put things into perspective, from December 2nd to December 9th, 2014, the TSX has dropped 2.9%; while for the same period our average client account has dropped 0.9% or less. So highly diversified managed funds are doing better now of course. Even if the Canadian Market took a big hit, your portfolios would not.
Take a look at the recent results of different sectors. This clearly shows the benefit of diversification.
(1)BMO Energy Sector team Commentary Dec 7, 2014
(2)Franklin Templeton Bissett Energy Sector team Commentary Dec 10, 2014