By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com <br />
Shale companies continue to drill at a frenzied pace, adding rigs and breaking U.S. oil production levels with each passing week. Yet, the oil production is becoming increasingly geographically concentrated. Not only is the Permian basin accounting for much of the new oil production in the U.S., but a relatively small number of counties within the Permian are home to most of that action.
Monday's 8% WTI crude decline is setting up a big opportunity for buyers. And there could be more to come. But this is driven by momentum, not by the fundamental conditions in the physical market.
The United States Energy Information Agency once again capitulated on the myth that rig counts don't matter and the productivity of wells would largely offset, leaving the industry on a continuous path to higher output. The current consensus of 500,000 B/D additional growth in 2015 US production now appears very much at risk.
Oil's rapid decline since August of last year has been dramatic. To listen to some commentators you would also think it is unprecedented and irreversible. Those claiming that oil will continue to fall from here and remain low for evermore, however, are flying in the face of both history and common sense. The question we should be asking ourselves is not if oil prices will recover, but when they will.
The demand for oil in 2015 will drop to its lowest level since 2002 because of an oversupply of crude and stagnant economies in China and Europe, according to OPEC's latest forecast. And that's just one of several sour estimates.
The great hype surrounding the advent of a shale gas bonanza in California may turn out to be just that: hype. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) – the statistical arm of the Department of Energy – has downgraded its estimate of the total amount of recoverable oil in the Monterey Shale by a whopping 96%. Its previous estimate pegged the recoverable resource in California’s shale formation at 13.7 billion barrels but it now only thinks that there are 600 million barrels available.
China has knocked the US from its top spot as the world's biggest net importer of oil, US government data shows. The country's fast-growing economy, as well as the rise in car sales, has led to its new status, according to September's data. Oil consumption in China had outstripped production by 6.3 million barrels a day, said the Energy Information Administration (EIA). In the US, the figure was 6.1 million.