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Turbulence in oil sector ‘far from over’

/By Arabian Post Staff/ Despite the recent price bounce in oil, turmoil in the sector may be far from over, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a report. Defaults are rising across smaller oil and gas producers and risks are rising for larger ones too, it said.

Total energy debt in default has now reached $18 billion, suggesting the credit cycle will mark a floor on oil prices. At present, the largest 25 US oil producers, comprising 4.1 million b/d, face an implied risk of default of 27%. Meanwhile, global energy output-weighted CDS risk is now well above 2009 levels.

To sum up, energy credit is upside down, risk capital has been scarred, trillions of dollars of equity wealth have vanished, and deflation fears have risen, the report said. The Saudi shift may have almost triggered a global recession. But not quite. Losses are highly concentrated and non-OPEC supply will likely now drop.

Also, the OPEC accord to freeze output is an important step to stabilize oil prices or even global markets. With Saudi domestic demand surging 450 thousand b/d from winter to summer, exports may drop by a similar amount by July. Coupled with a $3tn a year wealth transfer from oil producers to consumers, we still see a strong summer driving season ahead and $47 oil by the end of June.

The report points out that the radical Saudi oil supply policy shift starting in 2014 has exacerbated the fundamental dislocation created by the advent of shale technology. In recent months, the oil price drop may have even contributed to push down inflation expectations, indirectly affecting global interest rates.

This joint meltdown in oil and rates has in turn fed into energy and financials and can explain about 62% of the $4.6tn drop in global equity market values since July 2014. Similarly, US energy corporate bond values have dropped by $170 billion, mostly via a big jump in yields. The scale of the damage also extends to sovereign debt, with Venezuela sitting at the top of the list, followed by Brazil, Colombia, and Russia.