In December of 2015 the United Stated lifted its ban on exporting domestic oil, and terminals up and down the Gulf Coast began vying for that business. Prior to the ban being lifted, only 10 countries were importing U.S. crude. Since then, that number has grown to 33. And it’s a trend likely to continue.
To impose sanctions or not to impose sanctions? That is the question the Trump Administration is grappling with in relation to Venezuela’s exports of crude oil to the U.S. The answer could have an impact on everything from the oil business in the United States to the current political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela—attributed in large part to the repressive policies of President Nicolas Maduro.
“Bespoke.” The term has been around awhile, but in recent years it’s gained popularity as a way of conveying the idea of something made-to-order for a specific customer. In the world of fashion, a bespoke suit is a suit cut and sewn to the exact measurements of the buyer. Or in the everyday world of lunchtime options, a bespoke sandwich might combine any number of toppings and condiments.
With that example in mind, it might even be said that some of today’s biggest oil traders have created a kind of “Sandwich Shop at Sea”. When it comes to the blends they’ve made it their business to mix-and-match for the niche needs of their customers.
The story might sound, at first, a bit like David vs. Goliath: The little country of Qatar, one of the smallest oil producers in the Middle East, is currently locked in a diplomatic conflict with two of OPEC’s largest oil producers—Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.)—and their cohorts in the area, Bahrain and Egypt. But instead of wielding a slingshot, this “David,” according to its adversaries, is more likely to carry a bomb-filled backpack.
The multi-billion dollar investments currently being made in and near smaller ports along the Gulf Coast by some of the largest energy companies in the country are part of the long history of ports in the area.
In Vienna on May 25, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies — including Russia — agreed to extend their cutbacks in oil production in hopes of addressing the glut of oil that’s been keeping down the price-per-barrel.
According to industry sources, Iraq has increased its oil exports this year, in spite of the fact that, like fellow OPEC members and other oil-producing countries, it agreed late last year to cut crude production for the first six months of 2017 in an effort to stop the slide of prices.
It’s been said that you can never have too much of a good thing. But members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), faced with the oversupply of crude, might take issue with that statement.