Anti-OPEC Trump Wild Card for Oil Prices
Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election means his administration is likely to focus on domestic oil projects, leading to a prolonged period of lower oil prices.
“Most likely under a Trump administration there will be less regulation,” Fadel Gheit, a senior energy analyst at Oppenheimer in New York, told New Europe by phone on November 9, adding that the oil industry is very heavily regulated in the US, including environmental impact laws.
“For all practical purposes, less regulation, faster growing economy will definitely help oil prices. But at the end of the day, if OPEC has overproduction no matter what happens in this country is really not going to have a meaningful impact on prices or direction of prices in the next few months,” Gheit said. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is set to meet on November 30 to approve a plan to cap the group’s production to between 32.5-33 million barrels a day.
Trump favours boosting shale production in the US. “Stronger support of US shale oil and gas may impact OPEC and the price of oil – not only he is hostile to OPEC, but his actions will increase US shale oil and gas production, prolonging the glut and keeping prices down,” Cyprus Natural Hydrocarbons Company CEO Charles Ellinas told New Europe on November 10.
“Trump will primarily concentrate on US issues, such as abandoning the Clean Power Plan to boost coal at the expense of renewables, cut federal regulations to the benefit of oil, gas and coal, withdraw from or limit support of the Paris Agreement, reverse internal energy and environmental priorities, and generally boost oil, gas and coal within the US,” Ellinas said.
Regarding Trump’s foreign policy, Ellinas said the new US president might take a tougher line against the Iran deal, which could influence development of Iran’s oil and gas.
“The Iranians will be in their best behaviour going forward,” Gheit agreed. “Obama is a man of peace. Not Donald Trump. Because he made some outrageous statement during the campaign, people are concerned that he will use a nuclear weapon. Like that crazy ‘little kid’ in Korea, if he doesn’t behave, I would not rule out that Trump would drop a bomb on him,” Gheit said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Gheit said Trump would also probably approve the Keystone XL pipeline. “Most likely the pipeline from Canada will go through,” he said. “If the US becomes a conduit to Canadian oil export through the pipeline going into the US that will definitely level the plain field. It will add more pressure obviously on OPEC because now North American oil will be able to go anywhere in the world,” Gheit said, reminding that the US lifted the export ban last year.
“You will see more acceleration of projects that have been delayed, postponed or cancelled because of environmental opposition,” Gheit said, adding that “drill, baby, drill,” was back on the table. He noted that since Republicans have the majority in Congress as well as in the Senate, Trump would control the direction of the country more than US President Barack Obama.