Publication image

Lower for much longer – Adam Smith in the Permian

November 16, 2016

In 2014, the world watched as oil prices started to slide to USD 50 per barrel. Almost two years later, the oil price still sits around USD 50 per barrel. Where is the world's biggest commodity market heading? Our latest study provides the authors' perspective on the future oil environment for the next 5 years. The highlights of the study are below:

  • Although negligible in 2009, by 2014 tight oil production reached 5 million barrels per day, doubling US crude oil output, and basically meeting all of global oil demand growth over this timeframe. With the emergence of tight oil, Roland Berger's view is that OPEC can no longer manage oil supply to influence prices.
  • As tight oil is a significant, highly responsive resource with rapidly improving costs, any production cuts by OPEC could be met by increased US tight oil production, negating any benefit to production cuts. OPEC countries, many of which depend on oil revenues to balance their national budgets, cannot afford to cut back production, creating an incentive to individually seek production maximization.
  • The continued improvement in tight oil economics and the breakdown of OPEC will drive abundant oil supply. Combined with stable annual oil demand growth in the range of 1-1.4 million barrels of oil per day, this sets the stage for a protracted period of low oil prices.
  • By 2021, they estimate that US tight oil production could grow by as much as 5 million barrels per day above today's levels under an oil price of USD 50 per barrel. There is also significant potential for increased OPEC supply with Iran still producing below historical peak levels, Nigeria and Libya returning to full production after disruptions took chunks of capacity online, and the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait announcing intentions to ramp up production in the next five years.


Lower for much longer


Adam Smith in the Permian

Published November 2016. Available in
Portrait of Jonathon Wright
Boston Office, North America
+1 617 310-6600