The Middle East Crisis: Egypt, Libya and Triple-Digit Oil Prices
Given the events that we've seen in Egypt and elsewhere in recent weeks - as well as the developments we've seen in Libya in recent days - there's only one conclusion to reach.
We are right now looking at the prospect of significant and sustained instability in a region that's home to two-thirds of the world's known crude oil reserves.
The Middle East crisis - and the unsettling reality it represents - has already sent tremors through the international energy sector. Oil prices are on the march. And this is merely the beginning.
The problems will likely get much worse.
But forewarned is forearmed: Even if the Middle East crisis continues to escalate, we can predict how the global energy sector will be affected. In fact, if the crisis reaches the severity that I'm expecting, it will send the world's energy sector through three very predictable phases.
And each of those phases affords investors with very specific profit opportunities - if they know what to expect.
For the three phases to watch for, please read on...
2011 Oil Prices Prompting Energy Consumption Concerns Among Readers
With oil prices moving higher, consumers are already fretting about how much it's going to cost them to fill their tanks. And given the current outlook, that cost is going to head even higher - meaning there's no relief in sight.
The political mayhem in Egypt is the latest oil-price catalyst to appear, and is yet another candidate to help push 2011 oil prices closer to the predicted $150-a-barrel level. Analysts worry that Egypt's chaos could disrupt the millions of barrels of oil that pass through the Suez Canal.
Traders' main unease is that the political unrest in Egypt is something that could occur in neighboring countries - especially those with a much bigger influence on the global oil exporting market.
Buy, Sell or Hold: Brigham Exploration Co. (Nasdaq: BEXP) is a Strong Growth Play Poised to Profit from Higher Oil Prices
The energy crisis of 2008 - during which oil prices climbed to $147 per barrel before falling to the low $30s - led to some big rewards for investors locked in to the right companies. But with oil prices again approaching $100 a barrel, it's important to remember that not all oil plays are profit machines.
However, one company that is worth watching is Brigham Exploration Co. (Nasdaq: BEXP).
Brigham is an oil & gas exploration company that's focused on the Bakken Formation in the Montana and North Dakota area of the United States. The company operates on an area of about 200,000 acres and says it could have as many as 1,600 drilling locations on its Bakken property. I would be shocked if it ended up drilling 25% of those locations, but it is always nice to know that there is a solid inventory of prospects waiting in the wings.
Brigham has turned the Bakken into one of the largest on shore fields in America, and the oil that's now being produced there is increasingly valuable. However, equally valuable is the proprietary knowledge Brigham has derived from the project.
Politics – Not Oil Prices – Are What's Behind the Deepwater Drilling Debate
With oil prices rising and the Gulf oil spill fading from the forefront of the American psyche, deepwater drilling is set to emerge as a very hot, and very controversial topic in the months ahead - particularly among Republican representatives.
The GOP traditionally has been the party that supports the development of fossil fuels, while Democrats tend to push for more environmental regulation and a move toward renewable resources.
Right now, oil industry lobbyists believe higher prices warrant more drilling off the U.S. coast, but environmental groups, congressional Democrats, the Obama administration - which relaxed drilling restrictions just months before BP PLC's (NYSE ADR: BP) disastrous spill - aren't likely to agree.
In fact, lawmakers are already sniping at one another, spurred by the findings of U.S. President Obama's oil spill commission, which was tasked with investigating the Gulf oil spill.
Energy Forecast: Oil Prices Poised to Again Test Record Levels in 2011
After starting the year at slightly more than $80 a barrel, oil prices yesterday (Tuesday) rose to their highest level in two years, with West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude surging as high as $90.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).
But that 13% advance is just the beginning.
Crude oil prices are poised to again break the psychologically important $100 a barrel mark in a bid to move higher throughout 2011 and 2012, and some forecasters are calling for prices to zoom by as much as 65% from here.
If that happens, crude oil would approach - or possibly even eclipse - the all-time high of $147 a barrel, a price not seen since the summertime speculative frenzy of 2008.
How the U.S.-China Trade Spat is Jeopardizing Energy Sector Development
Usually, a government decision to subsidize clean energy alternatives would be applauded by others.
Not so when the government is Beijing, and Washington politicians halfway around the world are busy looking for votes.
This tiff could be filed away as just another tempest in a teapot... if it were not for the other important projects it could derail along the way. Those projects just happen to have a major impact for American natural gas technology and the companies likely to benefit from its foreign introduction.
If the two countries can get it together, it could mean profitable new opportunities for both.
To find out how the energy sector would benefit from U.S.-China cooperation, read on... Read More...
Everything You Need to Know About Tomorrow's OPEC Meeting
Crude dropped for the second straight day yesterday (Tuesday) after Saudi Arabia made it clear that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will leave its production targets unchanged at its meeting tomorrow (Thursday).
Crude oil for November delivery fell 54 cents a barrel - or 0.7% - to finish at $81.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday. Even with yesterday's decline, oil prices are up 11% over the past 12 months.
Speaking in advance of tomorrow's OPEC meeting in Vienna, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said that prices between $70 and $80 a barrel are "ideal," and noted that the market is "very well-balanced" right now. In a related development, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC slashed its oil-price forecasts for both next year and 2012, and attributed the new viewpoint to big stockpiles.
But this only provides you with part of the picture. And it'll lead you to the wrong conclusions.
So here's the proverbial "rest of the story" - including everything you need to know about tomorrow's OPEC meeting.
For a better understanding of the workings of the global oil market, please read on... Read More...
CNOOC Creates Biggest China-U.S. Oil Deal For Stake in Shale Gas Industry
China's state-owned energy company China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) (NYSE ADR: CEO) late Sunday announced it would invest $2.16 billion in U.S.-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE:CHK) to increase China's stake in unconventional gas resources like shale gas. It is the largest ever China-U.S. oil and gas deal.
CNOOC initially will pay $1.08 billion for a 33% stake in Chesapeake's Eagle Ford shale acreage in Southern Texas. China's third-largest oil company will invest an additional $1.08 billion by paying 75% of Chesapeake's drilling and completion costs in coming years, allowing Chesapeake to tap hard-to-extract shale gas deposits and boosting its weak balance sheet.
The deal highlights China's need to develop its shale-gas extraction techniques. The country has 26 trillion cubic meters of shale gas reserves that are largely unexplored due to a lack of drilling ability - and Chesapeake is a pioneer in the shale gas industry.
Iraq's Energy Sector Is Moving Forward – With or Without the U.S.
Iraq on Wednesday broke the record - 207 days - for the time between a parliamentary election and the formation of a government. But while Iraq's government is at a standstill, the country's energy sector remains dynamic and U.S. companies can't afford to wait for the political climate to thaw before diving in.
Iraq is slowly retaking the shape of one of the world's most prolific oil producers. Its reserves are actually 25% larger than previously thought.
"Iraq's oil reserves which are extractable are 143.1 billion barrels," Hussein al-Shahristani, Iraq's oil minister, said earlier this week, basing his comments on data provided by Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The Secret Indicator That Points to Much Higher Oil Prices
Crude oil has taken on a life of its own. As I have noted on several occasions, oil is both a commodity in wide demand and a financial asset in its own right.
In the former case, as a commodity, the so-called "wet" barrels (the actual oil) will respond to traditional marketplace pressures - particularly supply and demand.
In the asset role, which involves futures contracts (the "paper" barrels), oil becomes something that can be used as a store of value. As we'll see momentarily, oil's role as a financial asset underpins a crucial new development.
Six catalysts are behind the recent increase in oil prices. Five are well known in the marketplace. But it's the sixth catalyst - not as widely known or understood - that is central to our forecast that oil prices will continue their march.
This sixth catalyst also enabled us to uncover a significant opportunity for you to make a great deal of money.
To find out about those profit plays, please read on... Read More...
Record Breaking Contango Suggests Higher Oil Prices for 2011
ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) is paying $41,000 a day to keep a storage tanker capable of holding 3 million barrels of oil floating in the Gulf of Mexico, according to international ship- and offshore broking firm RS Platou. And the TI Europe is just one of hundreds of oil tankers sitting idle in waters around the world, as energy companies and investment banks await higher prices for crude.
Oil prices have fallen precipitously since the spring, as optimism about "green shoots" of economic growth gave way to fears of a double-dip recession. Prices have fallen more than 12% to $75.81 a barrel, from a high of $86.54 a barrel in April.
Indeed, with the U.S. economy stuck in the mire, the global outlook for oil demand has diminished - at least in the near-term. Longer-term, however, traders expect prices to surge higher next year as growth solidifies. That's why contracts for crude set to be delivered six months from now are worth more than crude at its current prices - an anomaly known as "contango."
Is BP Dealing Away Its Future?
In the aftermath of the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history, the Gulf of Mexico relief-well saga continues to monopolize our attention.
But here's the reality: Money problems - not the relief wells - could prove to be the undoing of BP PLC (NYSE ADR: BP). And that means the company's fate is most closely tied to its ongoing efforts to raise money by selling key assets from around the world.
BP is looking to divest $30 billion in assets during the next 18 months.Selling its assets is one way for the company to raise the money needed to cover its expected liabilities. But here's the problem: Those sales are moving right into the teeth of a new round of mergers-and-acquisitions (M&A) deals that were already taking place in the oil-and-gas sector, due to rising volatility there and the inability of some to withstand the uncertainty.
As a result of all this wheeling and dealing, the big will get bigger - and BP will get smaller. Indeed, the BP that emerges from the mess that it created should be smaller, leaner and smarter. But will that be good enough?
To understand BP's financial strategy, please read on... Read More...
This China Province Will Become a Global Oil-and-Gas Market Powerhouse
Like everything else, the balance of power in the global energy market is shifting toward China, where a little-known province is perfectly situated to become a global oil-and-gas market powerhouse.
Nestled in the far northwest of China, Xinjiang is the country's largest province and the primary domestic source for oil and gas. It is sparsely populated and as big as Western Europe. The name, Xinjiang, literally means "New Frontier." And recent decisions in Beijing are going to give that translation even more meaning - transforming this province into a "new frontier" for the global energy sector.
To understand how to profit from this development, please read on... Read More...
Crude Oil Prices Tumble as IEA Warns Economic Woes Could Stunt Demand
Oil prices yesterday (Wednesday) fell below $80 a barrel after the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that demand could be curtailed if global economic growth is weaker than expected.
The warning came even as the IEA, an energy adviser to 28 industrialized countries, slightly increased forecasts for global crude demand for this year and 2011.
However, those projections were based on revisions to historical oil-demand data and on forecasts issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) nearly four weeks ago. Since that time, economic news in the United has become gloomier.
The U.S. Federal Reserve said after its policy meeting on Tuesday that the pace of economic recovery had slowed in recent months and was expected to be "more modest in the near term" than previously thought.
Why You Should Worry About the Iran Oil Sanctions
I cut my teeth doing energy-related deals in the Soviet Union and still spend a lot of time consulting in Russia and the Caspian Sea basin. These days, my work takes me all over the globe. But the part of the world where my career began still holds the key for future oil supplies.
Especially the Caspian.
This land-locked body of water borders five countries, each having major oil-and-gas reserves.
One of those countries is Iran - the focus of the latest problem that's cropped up in the global energy sector.
And that "problem" - Iran oil sanctions - is certain to bring about an increase in the price of crude oil.
Two sanction-spawned catalysts will boost oil prices. To see them, read on... Read More...