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What We Read Today 26 January 2015

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

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Who Will Rule the Oil Market? (Daniel Tergin, The New York Times)  Saudi Arabia and OPEC (Organization of Oil Exporting Countries) have abdicated the throne and so the headline question pertains.  For 40 years Saudi Arabia's huge oil production, "backed by the Persian Gulf Emirates", placed it in a position to determine how to balance global surpluses and shortages.  Now that role has passed to the U.S., although The NYT says "changes in American production will now, along with that of Persian Gulf producers, also have a major influence on global oil prices", which implies a shared role, perhaps ultimately even shared formally, although The NYT doesn't explicitly say that.  The conclusion of Yergin's article is quite significant in that it articulates a factor discussed here before:  It is not clear at this point where the fracking and horizontal drilling technology is on its production costs learning curve.  This production may be evolving to much lower costs than those widely quoted which have been based on the past couple of years' experience.  Yergin:

Even at prices well below $100, American shale oil producers will find ways to drive down costs and output will start rising again. And the world’s new swing producer will find itself back in the swing of things.


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