Since 2006, U.S. oil field production of crude, plus natural gas liquids and bio-fuels has grown by three million barrels a day, about the same as the total output of Iran, Iraq, or Venezuela. In the same period, Canadian production has grown by 510,000 barrels a day.
"The impact of this extraordinary production growth is becoming increasingly apparent and even if the growth rate subsides in the years ahead the mushrooming impacts of this growth will have dramatic impacts," the report said. "A half decade from now combined US and Canadian output will be in surplus of projected needs. Over the next five years, demand for natural gas in the US should catch up with supply, opening up unexpected opportunities in transportation and igniting a re-industrialization of the country."
Morse, in an interview, said the U.S. could in theory need to import only from Canada within five years. "Our projection of U.S. supply growth and U.S. demand collapse is to levels where the U.S. will not need to import oil from any other country except for Canada," he said.
He expects to see a fight for market share in the U.S. and the ultimate result will be that the U.S. could re-export some Canadian crude. "But technically there should be no room for anyone else's crude," he noted.
But this does not mean the U.S. will be immune to price spikes, even with its growing supply. "Disruptions actually affect the price of oil globally and the more integrated we are in the world oil economy, the more we're going to be impacted by it. If there's a price spike, we're going to feel the price spike but the weight of our production is going to make that prices pike come from a much lower base in the future than it is now," Morse said on "Fast Money."
2013—Year of Change
U.S. oil has been landlocked in the Midwest, lacking a strong transportation system to bring supply to refining areas. A hodge podge of pipeline and rail transport has taken over, as the industry awaits further pipeline development, including the stalled Keystone pipeline.
But Citi points out that 2013 brings big change, what it calls "the most dramatic year of change ever in light sweet crude flows." Pipeline capacity in the U.S. will expand by 1.7 million barrels a day, and up to 600,000 barrels of new rail capacity will be opened between the U.S. and Canada. The report said there is an expected near doubling of receiving capacity of rail-shipped oil from 2012 to 2013.
The industry has innovated where necessary. Lacking pipelines, over half the North Dakota crude production, of 480,000 barrels a day at the end of 2012, was estimated to have been moved by rail. Much of it went to St. James, La., and Port Arthur, Texas and Mobile, Ala. Bakken is also being railed to facilities in Albany, N.Y., and New Brunswick, Canada.
The report also points out the big backlog in rail cars, many of them tank and hopper railcars. Citi said American Railcar Industries last fall said backlog for rail-cars at the end of September was 61,400, and 75 percent were tank rail-cars. Tank rail-cars transport materials like crude, chemicals, propane ethanol and asphalt.
Independent North America
The report describes how shipments of oil from West Africa have been waning and as early as this summer, West African crude shipments into the U.S. Gulf Coast could be unnecessary. East Coast refiners could also decrease dependence on West African crude, replacing more imports with midcontinent oil, brought in by rail from Pennsylvania and Virginia to upstate New York and New Jersey. That would also have a likely impact on gasoline prices, currently at record highs for this time of year because of refining issues.
There is also pressure to move light sweet crude from the Gulf Coast to higher value locations. For instance, Morse expects to see light sweet crude move form the U.S. Gulf Coast to eastern Canada, displacing more West African imports to North America.
Citi expects that within in two years, there could be pressure for more exports to other destinations or for pipelines on the East Coast or to change laws that would allow shipping of crude from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast by non-U.S. flagged ships.
By the end of 2014, Citi expects that sour Canadian crude should make its way to the Gulf Coast by way of new pipelines and that should provide a challenge for other producers shipping to the Gulf Coast, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait , Venezuela and Mexico. Morse says they could be pushed out by Canadian crude, or these producers could preserve market share by cutting prices.
Canadian and U.S. crude should be delivered in greater quantities to the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast by mid-decade. A happenstance of poor transportation for all this energy wealth leaves Canadian crude locked in North America, but with exporting ability through the U.S. Gulf Coast until pipelines are approved and built in Canada. Morse said if that were to happen, Canada could see an export boom to the Pacific basin, turning Canadian crude into the benchmark for that region.
The report notes that even before Canada builds pipelines to the Pacific: "There should be exports of crude from the U.S. Gulf Coast - Canadian crude for sure and potentially U.S. crude if the U.S. succumbs to economic logic and lifts current multiple bans on exports," the report said.
Asked how his report has been received so far, Morse said, with an ironic laugh, that he's had some "push back but not as much as last year."