Shale crude oil pipeline Paul Edmondson/ZumaPress

La nueva normalidad del petróleo

LAGUNA BEACH – Los precios del petróleo han vuelto a bajar, pues un barril de crudo de los Estados Unidos ha llegado a costar recientemente menos de 42 dólares, el nivel más bajo desde marzo de 2009, el nadir de la crisis financiera mundial. Y, si bien la pronunciada bajada del año pasado estuvo muy influida por dos grandes perturbaciones de la oferta, la actual tiene también una importante dimensión de demanda.

Al mismo tiempo, los mercados del petróleo están descubriendo lo que es funcionar con el régimen de un nuevo productor regulador: los Estados Unidos. A consecuencia de ello, el proceso de formación de los precios es mucho menos preciso en la actualidad, pues se producen retrasos mucho mayores de los ajustes.

La dinámica de los mercados de la energía cambió notablemente cuando en el período 2013-2014 la producción del petróleo de esquisto alcanzó un nivel capaz de determinar movimientos en los mercados. Como esa nueva fuente atendió una parte mayor de la demanda energética mundial, en particular en los EE.UU., los usuarios de la energía dejaron de depender de la OPEP y otros productores de petróleo. Con ese proceso, pasaron a ser también menos vulnerables a las preocupaciones geopolíticas.

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