After the drones. Why is oil not at 100 $, but at 50?

Currently, according to ICE, the cost of the December futures per barrel of Brent crude oil, as at the beginning of this week, is still balancing near the 60 mark for the classic 160-liter barrel.

At the same time, the Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak at the last briefing even allowed himself an unexpected maxim:
“Everyone seems to have forgotten about 100 dollars per barrel.”

Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Finance hastened to calculate the consequences of lowering the price of “black gold” right up to 10 dollars per barrel — lower than it was in the fall of 1998 on the eve of default.

Washington steps

When from Riyadh they confidently reiterated that the drones that attacked oil facilities in Saudi Arabia were of Iranian origin, they mostly kept silent in Tehran. Western media did not even pay attention to how calm it was in those days in the Islamic Republic itself. Neither rallies, nor demonstrations, nor frankly provocative stories of television or newspaper articles.

In the good old Persia they knew how to endure and wait, in modern Iran they have not forgotten how. The necessary arguments to refute the Iranian trace, of course, have led, but that, by and large, limited.

Through the mouth of President Trump, the United States with might and main threatened Iran with an almost full-scale invasion, but for some reason they quickly changed their combat rhetoric to a more conciliatory one. Apparently, those who launched drones to the Saudi refineries did not really understand the possible consequences.

After the drones. Why is oil not at 100 $, but at 50?

Perhaps there was some expectation that in Riyadh the arrows would actually be transferred to Iran, and the region would burn. The escalating conflict is beneficial primarily to terrorists, and no one doubts that it was they who launched the drones. Another thing is which of them. It is unlikely that they will be able to find out quickly enough now, although there are experts who claim that everyone in Riyadh has long known. And perhaps they knew even before the September raid.

The scale of production and oil refining in Saudi Arabia after the attack was restored simply to envy promptly. We can assume that Iran was not even given the time to take advantage of the success. And although there is almost no doubt that Tehran had nothing to do with “success”, in such a situation, Allah himself ordered to search for new oil distribution channels.

But after all, they tried to seize the role of the main player in the beginning of the game in Washington. However, as it turns out, everything happened somehow at the wrong time. Washington has come to decide something with the Kurdish rebels, who in Turkey have long been considered a terrorist group, and now - and withdraw troops from Syria. It is possible, or rather, most likely, that this conclusion will be about the same as from Afghanistan - protracted, incomplete, and, obviously, not forever.

Although who knows, it is politicians in Washington who are not tired of wars, and the country may well make it clear that they are tired. And Donald Trump, one cannot but give him credit, knows how to feel his country. It’s not just that the USA suddenly started talking on the Iranian theme in a completely different tone.

Yes, in Washington, of course, they took into account the unprecedentedly unified and coordinated position of giving up pressure on Tehran. And this is done not only by Russia and China, but also by many of the US allies, who make it clear that they will find cheap and effective ways to circumvent US sanctions.

Impotence OPEC

Saudi sheikhs are able to negotiate. It would seem that Russia is so intractable that it regularly runs into some semblance of what was done to it in 1998, bringing oil dumping to default. But she went to a series of agreements with OPEC, where Eri-Riyadh is recognized leader. It is not possible to negotiate directly with Iran, but at meetings of the same OPEC, everything in the relations of the representatives of the two countries is quite dignified and even peaceful.

Some indirect agreements, by all indications, are taking place now, although this forces the same OPEC to remain silent about the new alignment in Syria caused by increased Turkish activity and about the same drone attack. There was, of course, a condemnation on duty; there were no decisions or proposals.

At the same time, it has already become noticeable to many that Saudi Arabia has recently begun to distance itself somewhat from OPEC, preferring not to shift to the Organization a number of decisions that require not only promptness, but also a certain anonymity. Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that the sheikhs are quite capable of making some backstage agreements with the USA and a number of other countries, including those that are considered to be “oil outcasts,” up to Venezuela.

What and with whom will the sheikhs begin to agree? With whom, it’s clear: mainly with the Americans. About what? It is unlikely that a decrease in production volumes. Now, it seems, it's time to play just the opposite - to lower. To once again put large-scale dumping in the place of poorly controlled competitors. Including the same Iran, and, oddly enough, Russia. We should not expect any gratitude for all efforts within the OPEC plus and two pluses.

The oil market is cruel and pragmatic. He does not live today, but trends. In order to launch the trend, even a large injection of oil into the shelves may not be necessary. Apparently, on the sidelines of various kinds of oil parties such "crazy" ideas hardly surprise anyone; the whole question is how much they are capable of "mastering the masses." To become, according to Marx, omnipotent.

It seems that it was just the increase in crisis sentiment that forced the specialists of the Russian Ministry of Finance just in case to analyze the consequences of a drop in oil prices almost to 10 dollars per barrel. And even though such a scenario is almost certainly unrealistic. Too many factors work to ensure that “black gold” does not fall heavily in price, because it will be bad for everyone - even customers. However, I repeat, it is enough for oil traders only to demonstrate the same tendency in order to drive into the corner those who had previously played for an increase.

According to the Ministry of Finance experts, under such a scenario, Russia may lose more than a third of budget revenues and will be forced to consume reserve funds and even gold and foreign exchange reserves. However, the events under such a scenario cannot be delayed by definition, although the United States and the Saudi sheikhs have enough money for everything: even the Fed’s machine will not have to be launched - it’s enough to add tokens on the computer.

The market will quickly experience indigestion of excess oil, and it will begin to roll back upward. This is not a joke - it is a market axiom. In the end, there is simply and quickly where to put all the excess oil in reserves. However, even realizing this, the Russian Ministry of Finance nevertheless went further, deciding to check what would happen if oil prices were low for several years.

So, the volume of the airbag accumulated now is enough to be able to transfer the economy to other - new tracks during this time. To balance domestic demand is no longer with external, but domestic supply. Something like an “iron curtain” in the new edition.

However, in recent days, demand for oil in the world market began to fall again. Now sales and purchases range from 52-54 to 58-60 dollars per barrel, and this corridor is gradually slipping down. At the same time, the situation on the oil market itself remains completely unpredictable, as Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak drew attention to in one of his recent speeches.
Alexey Podymov
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