Oil dipped today below $50 a barrel. Oil closed just above $50 which is remarkable do to the fact that just a week ago the price per barrel was just over $55 with no ceiling in sight. After prices reached $55 a barrel pressure was put on world suppliers to bolster the oil supply. The next day supply increased dropping prices. The reaction in the markets today was a mass “short covering”. What this means is people who sold oil to people at a specified price at a specified time in the future bought oil today at or around $50 a barrel. The significance of this transaction is that analysts feel that the price of $50 a barrel is highly discounted and the price of oil will more then likely increase substantially.
The information that analysts are using to calculate possible oil increases are alarming. In Nigeria the average worker gets paid just over a dollar a day, while Royal Dutch/Shell is reaping record breaking profits off of Nigeria’s rich oil fields. The largest workers union in Nigeria has threatened to walk out and go on Strike. Nigeria is the US’s fifth largest supplier of oil.
Argentina is another large provider of oil to the US. The Argentines labor force historically has been less then spectacular. And with the turmoil in the middleast and a lack of overall supply to boot the outlook for oil is very unstable.
One potential temporary solution as mentioned by many analysts is the supply of the U.S Strategic Petroleum Reserves to provide some easement of oil prices. The SPR consists of 727 million gallons that are only to be tapped when a major interruption such as war has occurred. The Bush administration has made a strict policy regarding the use of the SPR denying access to the public.
Kerry on the other hand has considered some moderate usage or at least retention of supplying the SRP.
The fact is that oil is fast on its way to becoming a scarce resource and the world’s excess capacity is currently one percent of the world’s daily consumption of 82.4 million barrels.