Cathie Wood compares current crude market to whale oil, predicts it will meet the same fate

Cathie Wood
Source: CNBC

Cathie Wood is calling for a drop in oil prices, likening the crude market to the extinction of whale oil in the early 1900s.

“The rise in oil prices this year is a function more of supply than demand. At the turn of the 20th century, whale oil faced the same fate and whale oil prices fluctuated dramatically. If @ARKInvest‘s research is correct, oil prices will suffer the same fate as whale oil prices,” Wood said in a tweet Thursday evening.

The price of U.S. oil has risen sharply this year as demand recovers after dropping off during the pandemic. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures sat around $74.38 a barrel on Friday, on track to post its sixth consecutive week of gains. The commodity is up more than 53% in 2021. At one point during the start of the pandemic, futures traded with a negative value because of the demand collapse.

While many analysts and economists see the rise in oil prices as function of increased demand, Wood postulates that it is due to disrupted supply. The innovation investor expects oil prices to decline just as in the early 1900s, when whale oil prices drastically lost value as other sources of fuel replaced it.

Many of Wood’s highest conviction companies surround technologies that bypass the use of oil. Wood is a bull on electric vehicles and battery-related companies. Overall, the widely-followed investor believes long-term deflation will return as technology continues to disrupt many industries across the board.

“That said, based on ESG mandates, pension funds are demanding that oil companies cut back on capital spending while US banks, in response to the collapse in oil prices last year, are denying fracking companies of loans for capital spending, and OPEC is holding the line on supply,” Wood tweeted.

Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, said earlier this week that they think oil demand will continue to grow until 2035 even with cleaner energy sources developed as developing countries increase use of the fuel. OPEC then expects demand to plateau.

— with reporting from CNBC’s Pippa Stevens.

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