Oil market volatility will continue into 2019, but will settle at solid price

While OPEC has in the past underestimated the growth of the US shale industry, the CEOs of two energy firms on Wednesday stressed that output from the sector would likely slow down. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2019
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Oil market volatility will continue into 2019, but will settle at solid price

  • Expectation oil prices could settle within the $60 to $70 range
  • OPEC and its allies have been cutting output since 2017 to help support prices

LONDON: Oil market volatility is expected to continue in 2019, but there are expectation prices could settle within the $60 to $70 range — seen as a sweet spot for both producers and consumers.
That was the message that emerged from a panel of global energy leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday which also heard that US shale output would likely slow.
OPEC and its allies have been cutting output since 2017 to help support prices while US producers looked to ramp up production.
The US has overtaken Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s biggest crude producer, with output approaching 12 million barrels per day (bpd).

 

But while OPEC has in the past underestimated the growth of the US shale industry, the CEOs of energy firms Occidental Petroleum and Hess Corp. on Wednesday stressed that output from the sector would likely slow down.
“I believe not as much money will be pouring into the Permian basin this time. I believe investors will hold companies accountable for returns and a lot of this didn’t happen previously,” Occidental CEO Vicki Hollub said.
Hess Corp. CEO John Hess said shale production now accounted for about 6 percent of global production and would rise to about 10 percent before plateauing.
“Shale is not the next Saudi Arabia. It is an important short-cycle component,” he said.
OPEC Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo said OPEC wanted to balance supply and demand in the market and had helped the US oil industry by acting to support prices.

FASTFACTS

The US has overtaken Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s biggest crude producer.


Tour company Thomas Cook collapses, global bookings canceled

Updated 22 min 40 sec ago

Tour company Thomas Cook collapses, global bookings canceled

  • The bosses of the world’s oldest travel company seek to raise the $250 million they need to keep the company afloat

LONDON: Longtime British tour company Thomas Cook collapsed after failing to secure rescue funding, and travel bookings for its more than 600,000 global vacationers were canceled early Monday.

The British government said the return of the firm’s 150,000 British customers now abroad would be the largest repatriation in its peacetime history. The process began Monday and officials warned that delays are inevitable.

The Civil Aviation Authority said Thomas Cook has ceased trading, its four airlines will be grounded, and its 21,000 employees in 16 countries, including 9,000 in the UK, will lose their jobs. The company several months ago had blamed a slowdown in bookings because of Brexit uncertainty for contributing to its crushing debt burden.

The 178-year-old company had said Friday it was seeking £200 million ($250 million) to avoid going bust and was in weekend talks with shareholders and creditors to stave off failure. The prominent firm, whose airliners were a familiar sight in many parts of the world, also operated around 600 UK travel stores.

The company’s chief executive Peter Fankhauser said, “This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world.”

He said a deal had been “largely agreed” but that “an additional facility” requested in the last few days presented an insurmountable challenge but provided no further details.

“I would like to apologize to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees,” he said in a statement.

Britain’s CAA said it had arranged an aircraft fleet for the complex British repatriation effort, which is expected to last two weeks.

“Due to the significant scale of the situation, some disruption is inevitable, but the Civil Aviation Authority will endeavor to get people home as close as possible to their planned dates,” the aviation authority said in a statement.

Describing the repatriation plan, British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said dozens of charter planes, from as far afield as Malaysia, had been hired to fly customers home free of charge. He said hundreds of people were staffing call centers and airport operations centers.

“The task is enormous, the biggest peacetime repatriation in UK history. So, there are bound to be problems and delays,” he said.

A website set up by the aviation authority to aid the firm’s customers crashed shortly after the company collapse was announced.

Unions representing the Thomas Cook staff had urged the British government to intervene to prop up Thomas Cook to protect jobs and the traveling public.

Most of Thomas Cook’s British customers are protected by the government-run travel insurance program, which makes sure vacationers can get home if a British-based tour operator fails while they are abroad.

Thomas Cook, which began in 1841 with a one-day train excursion in England and now operates in 16 countries, has been struggling over the past few years. It only recently raised £900 million ($1.12 billion), including receiving money from leading Chinese shareholder Fosun.

An estimated 1 million future travelers will find their bookings for upcoming holidays canceled. They are likely to receive refunds under the terms of the government’s travel insurance plan.

Officials plan to post details on how to receive refunds later on Monday. Travelers holding reservations with Thomas Cook were told not to go to the airport because all flights had been canceled.

An earlier repatriation plan following the 2017 collapse of Monarch Airlines cost the government about 60 million pounds. The Thomas Cook effort is much larger and likely to be far more costly.

In May, the company reported a debt burden of 1.25 billion pounds and cautioned that political uncertainty related to Britain’s scheduled departure from the European Union at the end of October had hurt demand for summer holiday travel. Heat waves over the past couple of summers in Europe have also led many people to stay at home, while higher fuel and hotel costs have weighed on the travel business.

The company’s troubles were already affecting those traveling under the Thomas Cook banner.

A British vacationer told BBC radio on Sunday that the Les Orangers beach resort in the Tunisian town of Hammamet, near Tunis, demanded that guests who were about to leave pay extra money for fear it wouldn’t be paid what it is owed by Thomas Cook.

Ryan Farmer, of Leicestershire, said many tourists refused the demand, since they had already paid Thomas Cook, so security guards shut the hotel’s gates and “were not allowing anyone to leave.”

It was like “being held hostage,” said Farmer, who is due to leave Tuesday. He said he would also refuse to pay if the hotel asked him.

The Associated Press called the hotel, as well as the British Embassy in Tunis, but no officials or managers were available for comment.