Profiting From OPEC’s Moves
I often explain to people that to understand OPEC, you have to put yourself in their position. Their objective is to maximize the value of the oil they have in the ground. That objective is directly contrary to the goal of most U.S. politicians and consumers, which is access to cheap gasoline.
Earlier this year, President Biden began the largest drawdown of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in U.S. history. That was aimed at combating oil prices that had surged past $100/bbl, and it was certainly a factor that helped reduce oil prices.
That move, however, cost OPEC money. Further, with 35% of the world’s 2021 oil production, OPEC holds the trump card. Last week they played it.
With the SPR level 33% below the level of a year ago, and at the lowest level since 1984. OPEC announced deep output cuts.
OPEC and non-OPEC allies, generally referred to as OPEC+, agreed at their most recent meeting in Vienna to reduce production by 2 million barrels per day (bpd) from November levels. In comparison, the rate of drawdown of the SPR has been less than 1 million bpd.
Thus, in one fell swoop OPEC+ undid the attempt by the Biden administration to add more oil to the market. Draining the SPR was never a sustainable move. Further, it endangered U.S. energy security by reducing our oil reserve, and now OPEC has exploited that.
The White House released a statement, indicating its displeasure with OPEC’s move. It read in part:
“The President is disappointed by the shortsighted decision by OPEC+ to cut production quotas while the global economy is dealing with the continued negative impact of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. At a time when maintaining a global supply of energy is of paramount importance, this decision will have the most negative impact on lower- and middle-income countries that are already reeling from elevated energy prices.”
President Biden surely realizes that OPEC is not our friend. Further, at least with the Saudis, they would probably rather deal with Republicans. So, they may believe that announcing this move just before the November elections could hurt Biden.
What looks shortsighted to President Biden may look brilliant from OPEC’s perspective. Their interests are not our interests. They want to derive as much oil revenue as they can from their reserves, without pushing the world into recession and crashing prices.
That’s bad in general for U.S. consumers, but it doesn’t have to be bad for you. One group that benefits from these kinds of moves is U.S. oil producers. ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), for example, has risen 15% in five days as I write this. Smaller producers will see even larger upward moves when OPEC cuts production. Diamondback Energy (NSDQ: FANG), with a $25 billion market cap (versus $148 billion for COP), saw its share price rise nearly 20% in five days.
Of course, the other way to beat OPEC is to buy an electric vehicle. But if that isn’t an option, the best way to beat OPEC is to join them by benefiting from the moves they make. Buy yourself some oil shares.
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