Chemical attack: oil?
We're still awaiting action on Syria. Some of the biggest issues that are withholding the actions are that many countries are still waiting real proof. In the UK we're seeing quite the debate, as there's a strong feeling in that country that it will end up like another failure as we saw in Iraq. Not that many will call Iraq a failure, we did manage to oust a horrible dictator in Sadaam Hussein, but we never did find the WMDs that we went in there looking for in the first place. Syria is a much more delicate area and if anything, we will need to find just cause before we go in, but especially after. There's no room for 'not sure' or 'possibly'. This needs to have solid proof and the utmost conviction.
It's within this proof before an attack on Syria that needs to be proved. If there is any error in this assumption over the acts of Preisdent Assad, it will ignite a great amount of bias to the US and it's allies in any military action. We're going to be thinking about those implications as we take some insight into the implications of a military strike in Syria and the future of oil in the world.
Russia and China
These two countries have been the biggest supporters for non-military action. To that point though, they are also quite concerned with the idea of any military strike in Syria aiding the rebel factions there. It's a tough call for the Western allies to make. The US above all does not want to find itself in another situation as they did in Afghanistan many years ago by helping out a rebel faction, led then by one Osama Bin Laden. We believe that the US is not willing to lend aid directly to the rebels, but by crippling the Syrian army, it's possible that they can tip the balance against Assad. This obviously is a concern to the Russians and China, if not for terrorism concerns, but also as allies in energy sources. Syria may not be a major producer, but they remain a viable ally in the Arab community. This is one of the most important reasons that both Russia and China don't want to see this Government change.
With Russia, it's about maintaining their growth as the largest oil producer in the world. Russia has quietly grown as the biggest in the oil industry, but they have remained quiet respectful to many of the major Middle Eastern oil producers. In this recovering global economy, there is enough growing demand to take up all of the production in the market. We think that oil prices will continue to rise, but with more money and involvement in shale fracking, that oil may one day level out. It's for that time that Russia doesn't want to cause any disruption to their relations in the Middle East. Already we are seeing increasing production from the Saudis with latest figures seeing them producing over 10M b/d. We think that's because of increasing demand, but also because of production issues in Libya. Either way, between Russia and Saudi Arabia, we're looking at over 20M b/d of crude oil production. That's about 25% of what the world uses and it's quite a bit of income to be shared by only two countries that export more than 80% of that for income.
Which brings us to the other country that is trying to maintain a peaceful solution in Syria; China. Just as Russia is trying to maintain peace and stability among the Arab nations, China is doing the same for a different reason. We see China as one of the largest consumers of the goods from the Middle East. The bulk of this is now in oil. From our calculations, China is now the largest importer of Middle Eastern crude. Overall China is the world's top importer of crude and has surpassed the US this year. China is importing over 6M b/d with the US behind at 5.8M b/d. The key here though is that the US has now become much more sufficient in supplying it's own demand. The US is still tops on crude oil consumption with a run rate of about 15M b/d, but China 9.9M b/d.
US: oil indepedence
This is where the US has changed so much this year and the actions that it makes against Syria so much different. In past years, we've seen many conflicts in the Middle East and the first reaction in America regarding oil has been a call to the SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve). This time around though, the US actually stands to benefit from higher oil prices. As a country, the US is producing near record highs and has most recently topped out at 7.6M b/d. We think with more shale production on the forefront here, that number can easily go much higher. On the other side of that equation, the slow growth of the US economy has helped keep oil demand growing at a snail's pace too. As long as the US demand can maintain slow growth, America is finding a way to oil independence. With nearly 50% of it's crude runs coming from domestic oil, another 40% comes from Mexico, Canada and Latin America. The displaced barrels have been lost from countries in the Middle East (Iraq, UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia).
The barrels of crude that we are still bringing in from Saudi Arabia lean more to the cheaper blends. The American production has favored more of the expensive barrels that are priced on the benchmark WTI and Brent crude. If there is a risk to losing crude, it's not of the utmost importance and in a time of desperate need, it's quite possible that we may find more of these replacement barrels from other areas of the world (Lat Am, Mexico, Canada). So for a disruption of oil supplies in the Middle East, it's not about America's need for oil, it's the need to maintain relationships with these oil producers in the Arab nations. This tumultuous time in the Middle East has now become a conflict without a doubt about political relations and money, but not necessarily one about oil. For Americans, this is a dividing time because the reasons are clearly based on whether we believe there was an act against humanity or if there was an act at all. We need now more than ever to prove that any intervention in the Middle East is about the well being of the said country. What is at stake is not about $150 oil, it's about stability. We need to see the world continue to grow, but we need each other to supply as we increase demand.
Illustrations: Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copley
Author: Carl Larry - Oil Outlooks and Opinions / pr-controlled.com ©