Disagreement within OPEC could trigger a more a volatile period for oil, with prices jumping on lack of new supply or sinking suddenly if member countries decide to release crude independently.
Oil prices initially surged to a six-year high on news that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, ended their meeting Monday with no action and no new meeting date. A proposed plan by OPEC, Russia and other allies to bring 400,000 barrels a day back to the market was disrupted by the United Arab Emirates’ objection to other aspects of the deal.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures for August traded as high as $76.98 Tuesday before falling back to settle down 2.4% at $74.53 per barrel. Many analysts had expected oil to rise on the discord among members of OPEC, and say prices could still climb despite the sell-off.
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better. I still think $85 to $90 per barrel should be the upper end,” said John Kilduff, partner with Again Capital. “You’ll see more oil produced. They’re not going to go crazy, but they’re not going to live within the current structures. Russia will lead the charge.”
“It could become a free for all,” he said.
Some analysts had already expected oil spikes into the $100 per barrel range over the course of the next year. The feuding between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates opens a new fissure in OPEC, which now means oil could also tank if members decide to open the spigots.
“Realistically, I don’t think anybody wants to go this way. I suspect cooler heads or rational thinking will prevail,” said Bart Melek, global head of commodity strategy at TD Securities. Melek said there are some wild cards for OPEC that could affect prices. A major one is whether the U.S. and Iran strike a deal on Iran’s nuclear programming, allowing it to return more than 1 million barrels a day back to the market.
Another risk is whether the variants of the Covid virus could affect the economy’s recovery and crimp demand for travel.
OPEC and its partners were able to agree to return 400,000 barrels a day to the market starting in August. But the UAE sought to also have its production baseline increased from 3.1 million barrels a day to 3.8 million barrels, and that was the sticking point with Saudi Arabia.
After three days of meetings, there was also a deadlock over whether the deal would include an extension of the the plan to the end of 2022, which was opposed by the UAE. Without an agreement, 5.8 million barrels a day, cut from production last year, will remain off the market even as demand rises.
“I think OPEC event risk is back. We had pretty smooth sailing this year, and now this was not priced at all,” said Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets. “Once people start focusing on 5.8 million barrels off the market, I think they might get nervous. How they come back will be important.” The market will be affected much differently based on whether the oil trickles back or the producing countries flood the market with supply.
The friction between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, formerly strong OPEC allies, comes at a time when the market is increasingly in need of more supply. Analysts expect the world is short of upwards of 2 million barrels a day, based on current production levels and increasing demand. That means oil is being taken from storage, and there could be increasing pressure on prices as the economy rebounds and demand rises.
The U.S. is producing about 2 million barrels a day less than it did pre-Covid, and output has remained at a steady level even as prices rise. The U.S. industry has become more disciplined, due to demands from shareholders and lenders. Oil companies also face sustainability demands and pressure to reduce carbon.
But U.S. drillers do have capacity to increase drilling. “Certainly, $90 oil would encourage a lot of drilling in not only the Permian, but in the Bakken and Rockies,” Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates said. “I think as prices creep up, one of the things [OPEC+ members] are worried about is a spike higher that would encourage lots of drilling in other parts of the world.”
Lipow said OPEC will also be careful about falling prices and the potential for even lower levels. “If prices fall $5 a barrel, they’ll come to an agreement to signal the market they’re not going to flood it with supplies,” he added.
It also comes as gasoline prices continue to rise and are nearly $1 per gallon higher than this time last year. The national average for unleaded was $3.13 per unleaded gasoline Tuesday, following a weekend where prices at the pump were the highest in seven years for the Fourth of July holiday, according to AAA. If crude prices continue to rise, so will gasoline prices.
“I think gasoline prices could remain above $3 a gallon for the balance of the summer,” said Lipow.
The White House Tuesday said there have been a number of high-level conversations with officials in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other partners.
“If prices were rising, I think that would be more of a catalyst for the White House to get involved,” said Croft. “If you have a sell-off you may have people in the administration saying why do I need to be involved in this.”
Kilduff said he does not think the situation will last much longer. “I think we’re in the last innings of it right now. I’m targeting in mid-August, you’re going to start to see gasoline demand going down because kids are going back to school. Refiners will start to dial back,” he said.
Quick Charge Podcast: November 29, 2023
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UAW launches campaign to unionize all automakers at once – Tesla, Toyota, etc
The UAW has launched an unprecedented campaign to unionize the entire US auto sector at once, with thousands of auto workers at 13 companies announcing simultaneous unionization campaigns.
After UAW’s big strike win, winning 25%+ pay increases at the “Big Three” American automakers after a simultaneous strike at GM, Ford and Stellantis, the union is looking to maintain that momentum and go bigger.
Immediately after declaring victory, UAW President Shawn Fain said that in the next negotiation in 2028, UAW wants to come back to the bargaining table to negotiate not just with the Big Three, but with “a Big Five or a Big Six” – implying that the union planned to expand to other automakers. And President Biden said that he would support a UAW push to unionize Tesla and Toyota.
Now we’ve seen an official announcement that UAW isn’t just looking to unionize two or three more automakers, but all of them at once. Typically, unionization campaigns focus on a single company at a time, but here UAW is targeting a whole sector with simultaneous campaigns at each individual company. This seems like a tall order, but UAW’s triple-strike against the Big Three seemed to work out well, so it’s now applying that simultaneous tactic to organizing new union drives.
In service of its goal, UAW launched a new website at uaw.org/join, asking workers at each company to sign their union card. The website mentions several automakers by name, and has links to individual campaigns for each automaker where workers can go to express their interest in unionizing:
The campaign was accompanies by a video narrated by Fain making his union pitch. In short, UAW says that automakers and investors are making record profits, but that worker compensation has not kept up. The video specifically mentions Tesla and Rivian’s recent quarterly results, and also states that the Japanese/Korean automakers have combined to make $470 billion in profits, and the German automakers have made an additional $460 billion, in the last ten years.
Since the UAW’s big wins, other automakers have moved to increase pay to (partially) keep up with pay increases at the Big Three. VW, Hyundai, Toyota and Honda have all announced hikes in pay, showing how union wins can buoy an entire industry by making automakers compete for workers with higher pay.
But UAW doesn’t want to stop at a few voluntary pay hikes from other companies, it thinks that unionizing those companies can give workers a better deal. One worker at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant put it thusly:
We’ve lost so much since I started here, and the raise won’t make up for that. It won’t make up for the health benefits we’ve lost, it won’t make up for the wear and tear on our bodies. We still build a quality vehicle. People take pride in that, but morale is at an all-time low. They can give you a raise today and jack up your health benefits tomorrow. A union contract is the only way to win what’s fair.
Jeff Allen, 29-year Toyota assembly worker
UAW also quoted workers at Hyundai, VW, Mercedes and Rivian in its release, focusing on how they think unionization would improve safety and benefits at these automakers.
Unions are having a bit of a moment in the US, reaching their highest popularity ever since surveys started asking about them.
Much of union popularity has been driven by COVID-related disruptions across the economy, with workers becoming unsatisfied due to mistreatment (labeling everyone “essential,” companies ending work-from-home) and with the labor market getting tighter with over 1 million Americans dead from the virus and another 2-4 million (and counting) out of work due to long COVID.
Unions have seized on this dissatisfaction to build momentum in the labor movement, with successful strikes across many industries and organizers starting to organize workforces that had previously been nonunion.
But union membership has been down over several decades in the US, and as a result, pay hasn’t kept pace with worker productivity and income distribution has become more unequal over time. It’s really not hard to see this influence when you plot these trends against each other.
It’s quite clear that lower union membership has resulted in lower inflation-adjusted compensation for workers, even as productivity has skyrocketed. As workers have produced more and more value for their companies, those earnings have gone more and more to their bosses rather than to the workers who produce that value. And it all began in the 80s, around the time of Reagan – a timeline that should be familiar to those who study social ills in America.
All of this isn’t just true in the US but also internationally. If you look at other countries with high levels of labor organization, they tend to have more fair wealth distribution across the economy and more ability for workers to get their fair share.
We’re seeing this in Sweden right now, as Tesla workers are striking for better conditions. Since Sweden has 90% collective bargaining coverage, it tends to have a happy and well-paid workforce, and it seems clear that these two things are correlated. And while that strike is continuing, meaning we haven’t yet seen the end of it, most observers think that the workers will eventually get what they want since collective bargaining is so strong in that country.
These are all reasons why, as I’ve mentioned in many of these UAW-related articles, I’m pro-union. And I think everyone should be – it only makes sense that people should have their interests collectively represented and that people should be able to join together to support each other and exercise their power collectively instead of individually.
This is precisely what companies do with industry organizations, lobby organizations, chambers of commerce, and so on. And it’s what people do when sorting themselves into local, state, or national governments. So naturally, workers should do the same. It’s just fair.
Rivian R1T could add a projector for movies on the go
The Rivian R1T might get an exciting upgrade. The electric pickup can drive through 3+ feet of water, rock crawl a 100% grade, and take off like a sports car. But what if the Rivian R1T had a mobile projector that could be easily stored in the gear tunnel? That’s what Rivian is scheming up.
Rivian files patent for R1T mobile movie projector
Rivian’s R1T electric truck is the ultimate adventure vehicle. It recently made history as the first EV to win the off-road Rebelle rally, the longest of its kind in the US.
The truck continues improving through OTA updates that add fun new features, range, and more. One of its most recent improved the ride quality of its vehicles. By building its cars from the ground up, Rivian has a major advantage.
Like Tesla, the EV maker focused on software and “having the ability to configure every piece of hardware,” according to Wassym Bensaid, Rivian’s VP of software development.
Rivian can use this advantage to create unique products that integrate into its EVs. One of its most recent ideas is a mobile projector.
According to a new patent filing for a “vehicle entertainment apparatus,” the Rivian R1T could soon see an added movie projector.
The patent, filed November 23, details a kit that can include a projector, screen, and at least one speaker. The kit is attached to a shuttle that slides in and out of the gear tunnel for easy storage.
Once extended, the projector can be rotated into position. It will also include a mirror to reflect the projected light onto the screen without harming quality. Meanwhile, the pole to hold the screen will fit into several spots.
The setup enables a mobile entertainment setup in little to no time. Everything can be stored in the gear tunnel while not in use. When ready, it can just slide out and set up.
Rivian is including everything needed for the ultimate movie night on the go. And the best part – everything is powered by the R1T.
Although a movie projector may seem like a wild idea to some, that’s right up Rivian’s alley. The company has developed several add-on options like a three-person tent and the Camp Kitchen.
Many were dissapointed when Rivian discontinued the Camp Kitchen from its gear shop earlier this year. The $5,000 add-on included a pull-out kitchen complete with two induction cooktops, a water tank, collapsable sink, and more.
Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said on the MKBHD podcast that the idea was more popular than expected. However, Rivian is redesigning it for something that doesn’t take up the entire gear tunnel.
Maybe a Rivian R1T movie projector isn’t that far off after all. Meanwhile, Rivian will likely offer a redesigned camp kitchen first.
Would you consider buying Rivian’s movie projector add-on? Let us know what you think in the comments.
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