Commodity Intelligence

Conference call with Mark Latham

Oil - Taken leave of its senses

Mark realised in early February the seriousness of the virus through analysis of shipped oil volume into China and air quality levels. Lockdowns result in about 80% less traffic clearly curtailing demand and resulting in the oil price collapsing. From Q4 every energy market: coal; natural gas; renewables; had fallen to solar equivalents, and oil ‘was the last man standing’. The collapse in oil is going to be inevitably followed by a collapse in the base metal markets. The difference between this oil crash compared to all other oil crashes in the last 30 years is the large oil companies are heavily indebted, so equity valuations will offer little support. Shell, has about 124 billion of a contracted CapEx over the next five years making it difficult to cut CapEx as fast as the market. Shell is not a going concern at current energy prices. Seadrill has faced bankruptcy before and will likely face bankruptcy again. The number of bankruptcies in the Permian has swollen to between 20 and 30. Very bearish for oil-producing Nations particularly Iraq and Kazakhstan but the list is huge. The Russians were inevitably going to pull out of OPEC plus, which led to the first crash in oil. Now with no demand we will have the second crash. Oil has lasted over a century and is due an era change. We are moving to solar where 1.2% of the Sahara Desert will provide all of the energy needs of the EU. Lower energy prices act a tax cut for the consumer. So 18 months after this crisis you should see a slow rise in consumer expenditure across the entire economy.