Today’s Energy Update
(Because Energy Fuels Our Lives)
As Q1 2019 comes to a close, it is time to review the status of some predictions I made here the day after Christmas for what we would see during the first half of 2019. Accurately gauging where the industry will be several months into the future is always a crap shoot, and as usual, I find myself feeling glad I didn’t go out and bet the farm on any of these.
First, let’s look at what I had to say about the domestic rig count as calculated by the folks at DrillingInfo:
…my first prediction is that we will see a gradual fall in the domestic U.S. rig count throughout the first half of 2019. Indeed, the DrillingInfo Daily Rig Count already fell by about 3% during December, from 1160 to 1120 on December 25. I’m betting that, by June 30, that measure will be below 1050…
This particular count finished the quarter at 1049, after falling slowly but steadily throughout the first three months of the year. This represents a 9% drop since Christmas day, and there is no real reason to expect this trend to change during the second quarter, with so many upstream companies prioritizing stock buybacks and other programs designed to return capital to investors and lenders over the mad rush to increase production we saw throughout 2017 and the first 8 months of 2018.
A reasonable updated guess would be that we will see the DrillingInfo count fall to right around 1000 by the time June 30 rolls around.
What about crude prices? Here’s what I predicted they would do in Q1:
…my second prediction is that the price for WTI will rise again, but will not exceed $60 during the first half of 2019.
As things turned out, I had the general direction of crude prices right, but underestimated how rapidly they would rise, as WTI closed at $60.14 in Friday’s trading. The basic market dynamics that advocated in December for what has been a 20% recovery in the WTI benchmark remain in place today. Global demand continues to rise more rapidly than all the experts thought it would at the first of the year, and the OPEC-plus nations still maintain pretty strong compliance with their export quotas.
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