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Trump win would accelerate US oil recovery but not under weak demand scenario: Rapidan

Highlights

US oil output to fall 1 mil b/d by 2023 under Biden win

November election could also change pace of Iranian output

Washington — US onshore oil production would drop by 1 million b/d by 2023 if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden beats US President Donald Trump in November's election, but the gap would shrink considerably under a weaker price/demand recovery scenario, according to a Rapidan Energy Group analysis released Tuesday.

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"Shale returns faster under Trump than Biden, but even Trump can't help shale in a weak macro environment," Rapidan said.

The outlook for Iranian oil production could also hinge on the US election, with Rapidan estimating a return of 1.8 million b/d in exports in the second half of 2022 under Trump versus a full year earlier under Biden.

The Trump administration has rolled back regulations on the fossil fuel sector and taken credit for a surge in US oil production that stopped in February as the world locked down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Still, the Obama-era policy of ending restrictions on US crude exports is seen as the greatest driver of the US oil boom.

Biden has promised to ban new oil and natural gas permits on federal lands and waters, tighten methane emissions limits, use fuel economy targets to aim for 100% electrification in light-duty vehicles and move the US to net-zero carbon emissions no later than 2050. He has also promised to cancel TC Energy's permit to build the Keystone XL heavy crude pipeline from Canada.

Energy issues are expected to play a key role in the November election in states like Pennsylvania and Colorado.

"The metaphor is not really a pendulum swing ... but more of a catapult launch towards a very different direction if the Biden campaign wins," Kevin Book, managing director of ClearView Energy, said on a recent Platts Capitol Crude podcast.

BRENT RECOVERY SCENARIOS

Rapidan's base case has Brent crude prices rebounding to the low $50s/b in 2023 and demand rising by 10 million b/d between 2020 and 2023. Global oil production would rise from returning OPEC+ output, Canadian oil sands and the startup of seven new floating production, storage and offloading vessels in Brazil, the report said.

Under a weaker recovery scenario, Rapidan sees Brent topping out in the low to mid-$40s/b in 2023 and global demand rising 7.3 million b/d between 2020 and 2023. In this scenario, US shale production would bottom out more than 1 million b/d below the base case in 2021.

"The post-pandemic demand rebound will favor gasoline over jet fuel; petrochemicals and distillates will rebound with economic growth and as regions move toward reshoring," Rapidan said.

More than 2.2 million b/d of US oil production has been shut in response to low prices and weak demand amid the pandemic, US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said May 21. The latest US Energy Information Administration data showed US production at 11.5 million b/d in the week that ended May 15, down 1.6 million b/d from the week that ended March 13.