Oil and Gas

Obama may have done the oil industry a favor: Kilduff

Oil prices at 'critical juncture': Pro

The Obama administration may have done U.S. drillers a favor by holding back drilling on federal land, Again Capital's John Kilduff said Friday.

Kilduff made his remarks one day after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump outlined his energy policy. During the speech in Bismarck, North Dakota, Trump assailed President Barack Obama for passing regulations on the oil, gas and coal industries and for blocking construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The regulations include rules to cap methane emissions from new oil and gas production and stricter controls on federal lands for hydraulic fracturing. The energy industry has roundly criticized those measures and complained about long delays for obtaining permits to drill on government land.

But in the context of a two-year oil price rout, Obama's policy toward drilling on federal lands may have yielded a benefit, Kilduff said.

"As far as opening up new federal lands, I don't know if the Obama administration didn't do the industry a favor by holding back some production," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "Prices might have gone even lower if we had even more production on line from some of these federal lands."

The percent of sales of crude oil and condensate production from federal lands has fallen from 33 percent of the U.S. total in 2003 to about 21 percent in 2014, according the Energy Information Administration.

The U.S. shale oil revolution was a significant contributor to a global crude oversupply of roughly 2 million barrels per day. Last year, U.S. oil production rose to nearly 9.7 million bpd, near an all-time high.

"For an administration that gets a lot of criticism for not having an energy policy, they produced $26 oil for a few moments there," Kilduff said, referring to the 12-year low that U.S. crude prices struck this winter.

Kilduff also issued a caveat about another campaign trail talking point: the claim that the United States has not added a new refinery in decades.

"The fact of the matter is we've expanded the ones we've had tremendously over the past several years. So it's another reason why at times we get oversupplied," he said.

He noted that gasoline inventories are at multiyear highs, and U.S. crude stockpiles are at a roughly 80-year peak.