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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Could oil go to $14 per barrel?

How about $14 per barrel oil? That is a possibility according to Abigail Doolittle founder of Peak Theories Research on-line research firm dedicated to providing investors with a technically-inclined view on the financial markets and the economy. She is a contributor to CNBC meaning that she has some credibility. She is a market technician which means her analysis is confined to past chart behavior not the fundamentals of the oil market. A compelling case can be made that given enough time a technician can find a chart to fit about any circumstance and the circumstances in the oil market are becoming more unique by the day. Still, Doolittle cannot be dismissed out of hand albeit her super bearish prediction is an outlier. A barrel of oil contains 42 gallons meaning that the per gallon price of crude would be 33 cents meaning after refining and distribution costs plus federal and state taxes gasoline would still be below $1 per gallon. Parenthetically a barrel's refined products include about 20 gallons of gasoline, 12 gallons of diesel and 4 gallons of jet fuel and other products like liquefied petroleum gases and asphalt but the outputs can be changed to meet market requirements such as the need to produce more heating oil in the winter months.

Assuming that Saudi Arabia continues to run pedal to the metal all bets are off. Storage and refining capacities are finite. The law of supply and demand does not always function in the short term. People may drive more when gas is cheap but there are only so many hours per day one can drive. Oil producers have debt to service and are reluctant to lay off key personnel so holding out for a higher price is not an option. Many nations such as Venezuela and Russia fund their government from oil revenues and must accept the price whatever the level. From a partisan point of view falling oil prices positively demolish the argument for alternative fuels. It will be pleasant to watch the Department of Energy crash and burn along with Iran and Russia.

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