The colder the winter in Europe the higher the price of oil there and here.
The price of crude oil has dropped from just under $124 a barrel to currently about $88 a barrel, or a decline of about 26%. With Russia closing the Nordic pipeline with no definite date when it will reopen as the weather gets colder, I fully expect Europe will continue to scramble to look for a source of crude oil and natural gas to replace what is not being shipped by Russia.
The United States helped our European allies defeat the aggressors in the first and second world wars. I believe that America will again be asked to help out Europe by supplying significant quantities of oil and natural gas to them. I think the first pressure will come from NATO asking for America’s help in beginning to supply oil and natural gas to the various military installations throughout Europe.
Coming in quickly after NATO’s request, I expect the European Union to make similar petitions to the United States to help run the electrical power and fuel for factories and provide heat for the European residents. According to USA Today, more people on a global basis die from cold than from heat. The concentration of people in most European nations could exacerbate the death toll if the lack of heat continued for an extended period of time.
There are limited places in the world where the European nations could get an ongoing supply of crude oil and natural gas. There is no certainty that these countries would be willing to sell to Europe the quantities of oil and natural gas it needs to meet its needs. Some of the suppliers, for political reasons, would not be interested in supplying oil to Europe. For example, if things don’t go well with the Iranian nuclear agreement, then Iran may not be willing to sell crude oil to Europe to pressure them to sign the deal.
President Biden and the Democratic Party will have a very small window of opportunity to do anything at all towards helping Europe and NATO stay warm. If the Democrats lose control of the House and possibly the Senate, it would be difficult for the Biden administration to pass laws supplying crude oil and natural gas to European nations.
Given the president’s commitment to green energy, he may find it very difficult to ramp up production in the United States to ship it overseas to help our European partners. The president would not want to go into the presidential election facing the possible pushback from the green new deal people by agreeing to increase fossil fuel production in the United States to support Europe in its hour of need.
The United States oil companies will begin to see a greater spread between West Texas Intermediate crude prices and Brent North Sea crude pricing and see a profit opportunity. As of this writing, the spread between the two is about $4 a barrel, meaning that Brent is $4 more expensive than West Texas. The closer we get to colder weather, I would expect to see a general increase in the price of crude with Brett widening its spread over West Texas intermediate. There is a price point between the two where it’s more compelling for American oil companies to sell crude oil and natural gas to Europe than it is to the United States. My guess is somewhere in the neighborhood of a $12-$15 barrel spread.
So, what are the implications to the price of crude oil in the United States if the European Union and NATO have to become aggressive buyers of crude oil in the open market? On average, a gallon of gas in the United States is approximately $3.75, and a gallon of gasoline in Europe is just under $6 a gallon.
We don’t have a lot of data on what the demand will be because we can’t determine the weather, but it would be reasonable that if the price of crude oral is down 26% that in a short supply situation, it should be able to go back to at least where it was before it started to fall. This means that crude in the United States could get to $125 a barrel.
I think prices will overshoot as panic sets in when the cold weather hits. Look for gas prices to approach $15 a gallon in Europe. Price pressure on a global basis for crude will put higher prices on American crude and pump prices.
We just saw the August consumer price index report, which was up slightly. More disturbing was the fact that the non-food and energy prices rose to 6.3%, an increase over the previous four months. This tells the Fed it’s a long way from its 2% inflation target. This CPI report is one of the reasons why the market was off 1200 points on Tuesday, September 13.
If the non-food items in the CPI stay at the level or increase slightly, a significant increase in the cost of gasoline and crude oil, and natural gas would drive the inflation rate by the first quarter of 2023 close to double-digit numbers.
I’ll think President Biden will want to help our European neighbors and I expect he will impose the war powers act to increase production to supply Europe with as much as possible of what they will need. He will try and convince the American people that the excess oil and natural gas production will be sent 100% to Europe to help them deal with Russia and their restrictions on supplying crude and natural gas.
One last point about the recent news from Ukraine is how the Ukrainian army is taking back lands once captured by the Russians and that the Russians seem to be moving closer and closer to the Russian border. I do not believe that if Russia leaves Ukraine, it will turn on the gas at the pipelines. As much as the European nations would like to have oil and natural gas, they will want to continue to punish Russia for its aggression against Ukraine. I do believe if they withdraw, they will find intermediaries, perhaps Hunter who will broker oil and natural gas sales to European nations so that it looks like those nations are not buying directly from Russia.
To watch this story, unfold and see if I’m correct check the price once a week, of Brent crude and compare it to West Texas crude to see if the spread is widening. That will signal that higher prices are on in the offing in America.
Dan Perkins is a published author of 7 novels including 4 on nuclear and biological terrorism against the United States and historical fiction. He is a current events commentator for over 35 news blogs. He has had recent commentaries posted on Medium, Conservative Truth, Clash Daily, and Newsmax among others. He appears on the radio and TV many times a month. Dan’s newest show is Dan After Dark which can be heard at blacksandwhites.us. More information on Perkins can be found on his website: danperkins.guru.