U.S. - Saudi Arabia: President Trump Says Saudi Arabia's King Wouldn't Survive "Two Weeks" Without U.S. Backing

On 10/3/2018 at 3:53 PM, jaycee said:

The longer Trump stays in office the more I am convinced he is a Russian puppet. The consequences of the US leaving Saudi would be Russian control of the Middle East not the downfall of the House of Saud

The middle East only has value because oil has value. What would happen if oil became worthless ? Not only would the US drop the house of Saud but the Russians will too.

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19 minutes ago, jaycee said:

The Romans tried to seal off

...

The UK is only one general election from having a communist government currently.

Agree to disagree.  Y'all have fun without us. 

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2 minutes ago, JunoTen said:

The middle East only has value because oil has value. What would happen if oil became worthless ? Not only would the US drop the house of Saud but the Russians will too. 

On that note, once both Russia and the US are net oil exporters, it would behoove both of us to slowly end OPEC production.  Less OPEC oil = more profits for us.  As a bonus, ruining OPEC would give the US and Russia increased leverage over Europe and China.  Think about that for a second: the two world powers most able - and willing - to project force will have every incentive to end OPEC.

How might this play out though?  Europe, China, India, and other major importers will, to the extent possible, wean themselves off imported oil ASAP.  They're already throwing massive support behind efficiency programs, electrification, hydrogen-based systems, biofuels, waste-to-liquids, coal-to-liquids, etc.  Europe might drag their heels on carbon-intensive programs, but China is already starting coal-to-liquids.  In the long run - which is probably shorter than projected, given the new political incentives - oil demand will decrease. 

Even as oil demand decreases, non-OPEC supply will increase.  The US and Russia will exploit new resources.  We will turn anything carbon into liquid fuel.  We will decrease internal demand through efficiency, electrification, etc.  As our ability to export increases, we'll have the option of picking off OPEC countries one-by-one.  Conveniently, Venezuela is destroying itself; no intervention necessary.  Iran appears to be the immediate target, undoubtedly because it made a pest of itself.  Libya seems to fade in and out; wouldn't be difficult to finish it off.  And so on. 

Eventually, the only OPEC producers left will be our "allies", like Saudi Arabia.  SA in particular is making a frantic bid to reform its culture, diversify its economy, reduce expenses, stock up on weapons, and build military expertise.  Why?  They know we won't need them forever, they know we're not happy about the times they screwed with us, and they know we have an incentive to destroy OPEC.  Their best-case scenario will be if Russia & the US leave them to fend for themselves.  Their worst case scenario will be if, when the time comes, Russia and the US instigate their demise.  A regional war between Middle-Eastern powers would be a convenient way to reclaim their wealth before assuming their market share. 

Even if Russia and the US don't proceed with the utmost efficiency, OPEC will know we have the power to pick winners and losers.  If they want to sell oil, they must play nice and keep prices low. 

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40 minutes ago, mthebold said:

On that note, once both Russia and the US are net oil exporters, it would behoove both of us to slowly end OPEC production.  Less OPEC oil = more profits for us.  As a bonus, ruining OPEC would give the US and Russia increased leverage over Europe and China.  Think about that for a second: the two world powers most able - and willing - to project force will have every incentive to end OPEC.

How might this play out though?  Europe, China, India, and other major importers will, to the extent possible, wean themselves off imported oil ASAP.  They're already throwing massive support behind efficiency programs, electrification, hydrogen-based systems, biofuels, waste-to-liquids, coal-to-liquids, etc.  Europe might drag their heels on carbon-intensive programs, but China is already starting coal-to-liquids.  In the long run - which is probably shorter than projected, given the new political incentives - oil demand will decrease. 

Even as oil demand decreases, non-OPEC supply will increase.  The US and Russia will exploit new resources.  We will turn anything carbon into liquid fuel.  We will decrease internal demand through efficiency, electrification, etc.  As our ability to export increases, we'll have the option of picking off OPEC countries one-by-one.  Conveniently, Venezuela is destroying itself; no intervention necessary.  Iran appears to be the immediate target, undoubtedly because it made a pest of itself.  Libya seems to fade in and out; wouldn't be difficult to finish it off.  And so on. 

Eventually, the only OPEC producers left will be our "allies", like Saudi Arabia.  SA in particular is making a frantic bid to reform its culture, diversify its economy, reduce expenses, stock up on weapons, and build military expertise.  Why?  They know we won't need them forever, they know we're not happy about the times they screwed with us, and they know we have an incentive to destroy OPEC.  Their best-case scenario will be if Russia & the US leave them to fend for themselves.  Their worst case scenario will be if, when the time comes, Russia and the US instigate their demise.  A regional war between Middle-Eastern powers would be a convenient way to reclaim their wealth before assuming their market share. 

Even if Russia and the US don't proceed with the utmost efficiency, OPEC will know we have the power to pick winners and losers.  If they want to sell oil, they must play nice and keep prices low. 

All of that sounds pretty machiavelic.

I do agree though that demand will soon peak. What still seems very foggy to me will be the behavior of US towards OPEC once that happens. On the one hand when oil demand peaks the price drop will endanger shale US production which has high extraction costs and promote conventional oil such as is produced by OPEC, but on the other hand the prices will be so low that OPEC countries and Russia won't be able to balance their books even if the competition is out. Hard to tell how it will all play out.

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On 10/10/2018 at 12:36 PM, jaycee said:

Ruudin

Welcome to the Oilprice. I am not sure where you got the idea I was American from or that I am in any way happy with the way Trump's America is conducting business just now.  I think you should readdress your post to an American Trump supporter.

Jaycee,

please read again.

"you struck a note with me concerning: "Only problem is the Saudis are being made to look bad and they really do have a serious issue about respect.",  so I figured, now is as good a time as any for the following, as on this board there are a good few people that I disagree with concerning my topic:"

It may be my poor English, but I do not think that I indicated that I thought you were American, nor that you are a trump supporter. I'm sorry that you understood it that way.

I think that I did reach at least one supporter as he believes that USA actually "can go it alone" and if not, they would still get by. It was also stated that I don't understand "American culture", which may be true as I don't understand: "I'm your huckleberry.  😎".

And then, American interventionism entered the discussion. A few well chosen samples, that we're grateful for, but that had little to do with altruism. Have a look at all of them: https://www.globalpolicy.org/us-westward-expansion/26024-us-interventions.html                                          Maybe I'm wrong and all interventions in this list really were for the benefit of the world at large and they only cost the USA dearly with little benefit in return.

So, if the US can go it alone, why do they have the "Strategic and Critical Materials Stock Piling Act", which carries e.g. natural rubber (does the USA really have even the climate to grow these trees? In any case, the act also carries an impressive list: ttp://www.dla.mil/HQ/Acquisition/StrategicMaterials.aspx and more background https://www.kitco.com/ind/fulp/20120815.html, of course also the EU has such a list http://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/raw-materials/specific-interest/critical_en as may have many other countries.

Some of these materials are only produced in amounts of 4 tons a year. What if some unnamed party would purchase the next ten years of production? e.g. just to teach the USA a lesson in becoming just a bit more humble. Never mind, it can be done. It may even be done if present policy and behavior of the top man does not change.

The USA has so much production outsourced to the rest of the world that in case it all would come back, the country would have an insufficient number of workers to make those products. A few more people from north and south could very well be appreciated. e.g. https://money.cnn.com/2018/07/02/news/companies/auto-tariffs/index.html  and https://www.forbes.com/sites/greggardner/2018/06/13/trump-tariffs-could-cut-u-s-auto-sales-by-up-to-10/  and https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-01/bmw-hyundai-join-gm-in-pressing-u-s-to-forgo-auto-tariffs, Google will supply you with an almost endless list of articles on the subject.

Mum calls for food (dinner), can't let her wait.

Have fun.

 

 

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1 hour ago, JunoTen said:

All of that sounds pretty machiavelic.

I do agree though that demand will soon peak. What still seems very foggy to me will be the behavior of US towards OPEC once that happens. On the one hand when oil demand peaks the price drop will endanger shale US production which has high extraction costs and promote conventional oil such as is produced by OPEC, but on the other hand the prices will be so low that OPEC countries and Russia won't be able to balance their books even if the competition is out. Hard to tell how it will all play out. 

You say Machiavellian like it's a bad thing.  That aside, I figure if the US is going to be accused of Machiavellian behavior, we may as well get the benefit of engaging in it.  Anyway...

The problem with oil is price instability.  In theory, prices above $50-$70/bbl encourage new supply.  In practice, OPEC wields its production reserve to discourage new entrants.  E.g. they flooded the market in 2014 attempting to kill shale oil.  Because of OPEC's manipulations, new production doesn't come online when the price is high; it comes online when there's no possibility of OPEC driving the price low

Now assume stable prices.  Under that assumption, unconventional resources can come online at $50-70/bbl.  At $100/bbl, the world could produce as much oil as it wanted without a drop from OPEC.  As an added bonus, the US wouldn't have to spend $80-90 billion/year policing the Middle East.  Stably high prices change the game. 

I suspect current US policy is propping up oil prices to enable non-OPEC production.  When the Iran sanctions were announced, everyone's first thought was, "Can the markets replace Iran's production?"  My first thought was, "Trump just ended Saudi Arabia's dickery!"  OPEC is now in a vice: they've no spare capacity to lower prices, and letting prices go any higher will kill their long-term business.  They're no longer a variable; the oil industry can invest with confidence. 

There are other interesting effects to Trump's policy:

- Tight markets encourage even more non-OPEC investment.  Before, we had the possibility of $30/bbl oil.  Now, we have the possibility of $100+/bbl oil.  Markets will invest in that - and with the spectre of price spikes, importing nations will encourage that investment.

- Now that it's clear Team America won't play World Police any more, Europe et al. must invest in their own defense.  That ensures global stability and saves the US money.  They'll have two options: police the Middle East themselves, or find other oil supplies.  Personally, I'd recommend shale oil (France) and coal-to-liquids (Germany).  If they don't like those options, they can bear the cost of alternatives.  It's not America's responsibility to provide them cheap, Middle-Eastern oil. 

- It calls Saudi Arabia's "we have spare capacity, but we refuse to use it" bluff.  The higher prices go w/o SA increasing production, the less anyone believes they can. At the very least, it establishes the true cost of relying on SA.  Once there's a consensus that SA does not, in fact, have spare capacity - or that it's too expensive - the market will invest elsewhere.  On the off chance SA does increase production, the market will end up with more reliable information.  Win-win. 

- You and I know Trump is raising oil prices, but his constituents don't see it that way.  They see OPEC refusing to play by fair market rules and direct their anger accordingly.  The higher prices go, the angrier they become.  Some day, the US will be tempted to eliminate foreign oil producers; today's high oil prices lay the political groundwork to do so.  Trump publicly rails against high prices, but in private, I suspect he knows he wins either way. 

- On that note, high prices disproportionately affect Trump's opposition.  While conservative, Trump-supporting states are enjoying domestic crude prices (constrained by pipeline bottlenecks), the liberal, coastal states are importing expensive, foreign crude.  That's another financial burden for them to bear, making it a little more difficult to wage the economic war on Trump.  It may even convince a few independent voters that we do, in fact, need Trump's "Energy Dominance" strategy.  Counter intuitively, higher oil prices could benefit Trump.  It's all in the presentation. 

- Supporting domestic industry creates jobs and enriches Trump's voting base.  It's not just the oil rigs, either.  There's a petrochemical boom in the natural gas basins (read: lucrative, skilled jobs with good benefits that create further job growth in local communities), and energy price stability encourages manufacturing.  High oil prices are yet another piece of the puzzle that builds support for Trump. 

I'm not an expert, but if I had to bet, I'd say "Machiavellian" is a winning strategy here. 

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23 hours ago, mthebold said:

Agree to disagree.  Y'all have fun without us. 

Cheers it was fun and thought provoking talking hope I did the same for you. So long and thanks for all the fish.

Edited by jaycee
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20 hours ago, RuudinFrance said:

Jaycee,

please read again.

"you struck a note with me concerning: "Only problem is the Saudis are being made to look bad and they really do have a serious issue about respect.",  so I figured, now is as good a time as any for the following, as on this board there are a good few people that I disagree with concerning my topic:"

It may be my poor English, but I do not think that I indicated that I thought you were American, nor that you are a trump supporter. I'm sorry that you understood it that way.

RuudinFrance

no problems thanks for clarifying we do seem to have a few viewpoints in common however I think you need to be nicer in the way you say them to our American readers your post previously was a bit too aggressive don't get emotional in discussions you lose any credibility if you do.

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23 hours ago, JunoTen said:

The middle East only has value because oil has value. What would happen if oil became worthless ? Not only would the US drop the house of Saud but the Russians will too.

How soon will oil become worthless? I don't see oil demand crashing soon and if the oil price drops, which is possible, why will the cheapest producers, Saudi etc, not continue to sell and make a profit? You need to expand your point I can't see it.

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3 hours ago, jaycee said:

How soon will oil become worthless? I don't see oil demand crashing soon and if the oil price drops, which is possible, why will the cheapest producers, Saudi etc, not continue to sell and make a profit? You need to expand your point I can't see it.

Oil will always have value, but let's modify his point to mean, "When the production capacity provided by some/all Middle Eastern nations becomes worthless."  Now we can ask, "Under what circumstances would the world not need some/all of the Middle East's production?"  That's easy: a combination of falling demand and rising non-OPEC production.  When the world can replace OPEC's production at existing market prices, OPEC becomes irrelevant. 

The remaining question is, "Why wouldn't the lowest-cost producer survive the longest?"  I would argue that being the lowest-cost producer matters less than people think it does.  To understand why, we should consider two points:

1)  Prices are not driven by the lowest-cost producer; they're driven by the highest-cost producer.  In economic terms, "on the margin".  That being the case, customers don't care if SA produces at $12/bbl; they care that the market price is $80/bbl.  If another supplier can produce at $50 and sell at $70, that producer will steal SA's market share. 

2)  Policing the Middle East and suffering its dickery is expensive:

  • The US alone sinks $80-90 billion/year into the Middle East, none of which is reflected in oil prices.  If you divide $90 billion across 20MMbpd (naive, ballpark number for what the world would lose if the US stopped providing this service), it comes to $12/bbl.  That's $12/bbl for the US contribution alone. 
  • The instability of OPEC nations causes price spikes.  OPEC creates these spikes for financial gain, but then ends them before they lose market share.  As long as OPEC has pricing power, this will be a recurring cost.  Again, it's not figured into the instantaneous market price. 
  • Oil markets bid up the price of oil to account for the "What if OPEC has an outage or does something stupid?" factor.  OPEC's lack of competence directly increases the price of oil. 
  • Instability affects economic growth independent of its effect on prices.  Industrial investments aren't made based on today's price; they're made based on what the price could possibly be.  If one of OPEC's price spikes could possibly bankrupt a project, that project doesn't happen.  In that way, OPEC is lowering the world's GDP.

The market price of oil w/o Trump's policy is theoretically $50-60/bbl, but what's the true cost?  Policing brings it to a minimum $62-72/bbl.  Add in the other factors, and we're certainly over $80/bbl.  $100-120/bbl is arguable. 

At $60/bbl, the world can't replace OPEC.  At $80/bbl, we might - esp. with near-future technology improvements.  At $100/bbl, we absolutely can today.  When you include hidden costs, we're already paying that.  That being the case, it makes perfect sense for Russia, the US, and others to divide OPEC's market share among themselves.  Eliminating the low-cost production would mean less profit for the sum total of oil producing countries, but the sum total is irrelevant.  The loss will be wholly borne by OPEC while non-OPEC producers would see increased profits through increased market share.  Non-OPEC societies would see zero change in the true cost of oil, a boost in their GDP, and fewer young men sent to foreign battlefields.  There are both political and financial incentives to eliminate OPEC production. 

To put it bluntly, Russia, the US, and others could increase profits by completely destroying OPEC nations.  Given OPEC's past, cutthroat treatment of their customers, this is arguably a reasonable and moral course of action.  I would argue it's inevitable.  OPEC is a dead man walking. 

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On 10/4/2018 at 12:06 AM, Bhimsen Pachawry said:

USA considers Canadian oil as its own. hence USA says that it is self sufficient in oil production. Canada supplies USA with 3MBPD oil and hence offsets USA deficit.

 

But, the decline in USA tight oil is inevitable and expected to start from 2020-21

 

On 10/4/2018 at 1:41 AM, Tom Kirkman said:

 

large.jpg

Canadians might beg to differ.

Like many things, saying, "USA considers Canadian oil as its own" is... poorly phrased.  Also like many things, it's lack of precision & diplomacy hides a grain of truth. 

In this case, the grain of truth is that Canadian oil supply is stable, sufficiently politically reliable, and militarily defensible.  I.e. for national defense calculations, it's equivalent to American oil.  Perhaps a better way to phrase this is, "For national security calculations, Canadian oil is equivalent to American oil.  In this narrow sense, it may be considered 'American' and, therefore, counted towards 'energy independence'."

Correct me if you disagree, but that seems fairly neutral to me.  If we phrase even more carefully, we could probably imply that "America considers Canadian oil as its own" while making Canada feel good about it.  After all, having a neighbor trust you enough to bet their life on you is high praise no matter who it comes from.  Canada ought to be proud of themselves. 

 

Edit (After Tom liked the post):  Go Canada!  Woooooooo!  https://i.imgur.com/SRrTKWd.jpg

Edited by mthebold
Added a note.
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23 hours ago, mthebold said:

Oil will always have value, but let's modify his point to mean, "When the production capacity provided by some/all Middle Eastern nations becomes worthless."  Now we can ask, "Under what circumstances would the world not need some/all of the Middle East's production?"  That's easy: a combination of falling demand and rising non-OPEC production.  When the world can replace OPEC's production at existing market prices, OPEC becomes irrelevant. 

The remaining question is, "Why wouldn't the lowest-cost producer survive the longest?"  I would argue that being the lowest-cost producer matters less than people think it does.  To understand why, we should consider two points:

1)  Prices are not driven by the lowest-cost producer; they're driven by the highest-cost producer.  In economic terms, "on the margin".  That being the case, customers don't care if SA produces at $12/bbl; they care that the market price is $80/bbl.  If another supplier can produce at $50 and sell at $70, that producer will steal SA's market share. 

2)  Policing the Middle East and suffering its dickery is expensive:

  • The US alone sinks $80-90 billion/year into the Middle East, none of which is reflected in oil prices.  If you divide $90 billion across 20MMbpd (naive, ballpark number for what the world would lose if the US stopped providing this service), it comes to $12/bbl.  That's $12/bbl for the US contribution alone. 
  • The instability of OPEC nations causes price spikes.  OPEC creates these spikes for financial gain, but then ends them before they lose market share.  As long as OPEC has pricing power, this will be a recurring cost.  Again, it's not figured into the instantaneous market price. 
  • Oil markets bid up the price of oil to account for the "What if OPEC has an outage or does something stupid?" factor.  OPEC's lack of competence directly increases the price of oil. 
  • Instability affects economic growth independent of its effect on prices.  Industrial investments aren't made based on today's price; they're made based on what the price could possibly be.  If one of OPEC's price spikes could possibly bankrupt a project, that project doesn't happen.  In that way, OPEC is lowering the world's GDP.

The market price of oil w/o Trump's policy is theoretically $50-60/bbl, but what's the true cost?  Policing brings it to a minimum $62-72/bbl.  Add in the other factors, and we're certainly over $80/bbl.  $100-120/bbl is arguable. 

At $60/bbl, the world can't replace OPEC.  At $80/bbl, we might - esp. with near-future technology improvements.  At $100/bbl, we absolutely can today.  When you include hidden costs, we're already paying that.  That being the case, it makes perfect sense for Russia, the US, and others to divide OPEC's market share among themselves.  Eliminating the low-cost production would mean less profit for the sum total of oil producing countries, but the sum total is irrelevant.  The loss will be wholly borne by OPEC while non-OPEC producers would see increased profits through increased market share.  Non-OPEC societies would see zero change in the true cost of oil, a boost in their GDP, and fewer young men sent to foreign battlefields.  There are both political and financial incentives to eliminate OPEC production. 

To put it bluntly, Russia, the US, and others could increase profits by completely destroying OPEC nations.  Given OPEC's past, cutthroat treatment of their customers, this is arguably a reasonable and moral course of action.  I would argue it's inevitable.  OPEC is a dead man walking. 

Really not understanding your point here still. Saudi and OPEC produce cheap oil who is actually going to buy more expensive oil if they can buy cheaper? If you say weaker demand will happen then obviously the cheapest oil will sell first. The fact somebody else produces higher price oil is irrelevant if demand does not reach that level to make it needed. If it does then the cheaper producers can still sell their stuff and under cut others if necessary to sell all their product. Pretty much what happen with the US shalers when OPEC took the price down below their production costs when there was a glut of oil . I can see no pricing war those with higher cost production can win.

I don’t understand your costing for America protecting Saudi, they either do or somebody else will as a source of oil is very important as the feedstock to any industrial society. If Russia does not step in, as you seem to see them as allies of the US, how about China the Middle East’s biggest customer protecting its supply and avoiding having to rely on an unreliable US or devious Russia?

Regards this price you reckon oil will get to of $100 a barrel don’t you see $80 is already causing demand destruction in emerging markets and India? At $100 oil will spike down again and then where is all the North American expensive oil going?

Instability in OPEC you quote as an issue in oil price spikes well it is actually America that’s the problem. The current oil spike is completely American made. Bush’s invasion of Iraq didn’t help oil prices previously either. History is littered with American interference in the Middle East causing problems. Their use of puppets and effecting regime change to get them causes many oil price spikes. Please stop blaming others for what America has done its bad enough hearing Trump doing it..

I could go on but we see the world differently probably due to our experiences in it and doubt we will ever agree unless I start pointing out other countries weaknesses.

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On 10/14/2018 at 5:34 PM, jaycee said:

How soon will oil become worthless? I don't see oil demand crashing soon and if the oil price drops, which is possible, why will the cheapest producers, Saudi etc, not continue to sell and make a profit? You need to expand your point I can't see it.

You don't see it but it doesn't mean it won't happen. Some forecast peak demand for 2020, others for 2023...

Sure they will still make a profit but they won't balance their budget. They also made a profit when oil was 50 dollars but were in dire straits. Imagine how it would be at  10 dollars with the reason being demand coming down, which means a permanent drastic lowering of investments.

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27 minutes ago, JunoTen said:

You don't see it but it doesn't mean it won't happen. Some forecast peak demand for 2020, others for 2023...

Sure they will still make a profit but they won't balance their budget. They also made a profit when oil was 50 dollars but were in dire straits. Imagine how it would be at  10 dollars with the reason being demand coming down, which means a permanent drastic lowering of investments.

If I listened to all the peak oil predictors over the last 20 years I would have been not working in oil and lost a load of money.  You keep listening to people with an agenda I will live in the real world.

Why do you think KSA are diversifying heavily into petrochem and having a sovereign fund investing in new tech? As for demand falling why is is going to fall? In America petrol demand has fallen but petrochem has risen to take up the slack in oil consumption.  A modern world runs on oil products even battery cars are made using it
I keep hearing demand will crash and always these people have been proved wrong  I would not bet on it you will lose a lot of money.

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39 minutes ago, jaycee said:

If I listened to all the peak oil predictors over the last 20 years I would have been not working in oil and lost a load of money.  You keep listening to people with an agenda I will live in the real world.

Why do you think KSA are diversifying heavily into petrochem and having a sovereign fund investing in new tech? As for demand falling why is is going to fall? In America petrol demand has fallen but petrochem has risen to take up the slack in oil consumption.  A modern world runs on oil products even battery cars are made using it
I keep hearing demand will crash and always these people have been proved wrong  I would not bet on it you will lose a lot of money.

I'm not betting on it with my money, just expecting it to happen. At some point the electrification and robotisation of transports will lower oil demand. It may be sooner than later.

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8 minutes ago, JunoTen said:

I'm not betting on it with my money, just expecting it to happen. At some point the electrification and robotisation of transports will lower oil demand. It may be sooner than later.

Well I am betting with my job and my investments. Eventually electrification will have a effect on petrol demand but it's oil demand that is important.

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6 minutes ago, jaycee said:

Well I am betting with my job and my investments. Eventually electrification will have a effect on petrol demand but it's oil demand that is important.

Maybe you'd like to read this report https://www.rethinkx.com/transportation/ and make your opinion.

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2 hours ago, JunoTen said:

Maybe you'd like to read this report https://www.rethinkx.com/transportation/ and make your opinion.

All reports don't become facts. I have read many reports that have failed to live up to the author's, usually biased, view of the world. However you continue to push the idea that the only use for oil is transport and fail grasp the point I have twice made oil is needed more and more for everything else including building the new transportation and the power systems required to power them that you are highlighting. Been told too much BS in the past to believe everything is going to happen as 'experts' predict.

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