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Quarter-End Insights

Energy: A False Sense of Security for Oil Markets

Joe Gemino, CPA
  • Crude fundamentals look healthier than they've been for years, largely due to voluntary curtailments from OPEC and its partners. By giving up 1.8 million barrels per day (mmb/d), combined, this group has engineered a temporary supply shortage in an effort to realign global inventories with the long-term average before the cuts expire at the end of 2018. 
  • However, several months of stagnating shale growth, driven by a sharp increase in drilled-but-uncompleted wells and the fallout from Hurricane Harvey, have lulled oil markets into a false sense of security. The inevitable resumption of growth in the U.S., coupled with expansion in Libya and Nigeria, will likely nudge crude stockpiles higher again in 2018--whether other OPEC members comply with fully agreed production targets or not. 
  • Even before the OPEC cuts are lifted, supply is likely to outstrip near-term demand growth and tip the industry into oversupply in 2018, driven by rapidly growing U.S. output. Our 2018 and midcycle forecasts for West Texas Intermediate are still $48/bbl and $55/bbl, respectively.
  • Despite our bearish outlook for near- and long-term oil prices, we see pockets of opportunity in the oil and gas space. Energy sector valuations look fairly valued at current levels, with an average price/fair value estimate of 0.98. Still, on a relative basis, energy is one of the cheaper sectors, with several others trading at a price/fair value above 1.05.

Joe Gemino, CPA does not own shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar's editorial policies.