Crude struggles to regain normalcy

Price of crude oil in recent weeks has not any symptom of finding the just and normal price that many OPEC producers believe. Their estimation that the market may sit at around $60 in the medium term seems to be evading with US WTI creeped down to $ $41.9 on Thursday.

US shale producers are not giving up

There is no serious move for price resurgence; rather the market hints a bearish trend. Data from production cites from the US shale locations indicate that producers have deployed more rigs when price touched $50 last month. US rig count survey complied by Baker Hughes shows that after hitting a seven-year low of 316 in May, the number of rigs drilling for oil has edged higher, rising to 371. 

After the downtrend in prices, the shale industry has made large number of production cutting measures and cost has been reduced with improved technology over the last one year.

Crude’s fate also depends on the production behavior of the producers in the Middle East. With slowing demand and increasing volume by the returnee – Iran, market may continue below $50. Reports indicate that Iran is making campaign on different front to regain its market share.  

Largest consumers including India are offered competitive prices compared to established suppliers can offer. This has made the OPEC a weak cartel amidst attack from the shale industry.

The new reaction pattern

Production is responding to price movements quickly than ever according to market observers. Shale producers reduces output whenever price go back to below $45 and reinforces themselves at the hint of an above $50 possibility.

This has produced some sort of check and balances. The latest reaction pattern by the shale producers to deploy more rigs at $50 is a set back to the existing suppliers. Their belief that shale can be booed down with a medium term price war has not won. Elimination of high cost firms from the crude industry has also not met with big success. In this context, oil’s return to the $60 mark is difficult unless another disturbance comes on the production front.