Blank spaces, Bitcoin bargains and Hong Kong umbrellas

What the world looked like the last time West Texas crude traded at US$64 a barrel

One thousand, one hundred and thirty six days.

That’s how long it had been since West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures traded at US$64.50 per barrel, and Brent futures traded at US$70 a barrel, when crude finally hit those thresholds again on January 15, 2018.

It’s been a long, strange trip for the crude oil industry since Dec. 5, 2014. And given what was taking place in the world in early December 2014, it does seem like another lifetime altogether.

According to CNBC, the last time oil was this valuable:

  • The Islamic State was on the rise, controlling large portions of Iraq and Syria;
  • Bitcoin was lurching along at just over US$300, a far cry from last month’s all time high of over US$19,000;
  • China’s economic purchasing power nosed past that of the U.S., while Hong Kong’s so-called “umbrella revolution” was in its final days of multicolored glory;
  • Taylor Swift’s Blank Space topped Billboard’s Hot 100, while Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 topped the global box office that weekend with US$22 in worldwide receipts;

And while we’ve had cheap crude for more than three years—including a rock bottom of US$26.55 in January 2016—prominent trader Robert Raymond sees signs of a bull case for oil.

“Our bigger picture point is that the Nike swoosh recovery starting in 2015 and on is playing out,” the founder of hedge fund RCH Energy recently told CNBC’s Futures Now, “within that range of an ultimate target of $65 to $75 a barrel.”

With demand growing and excess supply capacity rapidly disappearing, “the industry needs to get back on its feet, and it needs to start drilling wells and figuring out how to grow supply beyond just the United States and U.S. shale,” he says.

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