I've been doing it for nearly 15 years and it's always tempting to focus on just one thing when trying to predict the next move in oil's price. You hear it all the time: Oil is all about the Saudis, or all about the dollar or all about growth in China.
Well, oil prices are rarely so simply explained.
Recently, the focus has been on oil storage, with U.S. stockpiles running further ahead of any other time in our history. With storage so far above the five-year average, there has been fundamental pressure on prices, to be sure.
But oil storage is not simple either. It is not like a bowl where water continues to drip in until it overflows. There are plenty of places for excess oil to go -- if the price supports it.
Storage can be in many forms, from true tanks to rail cars to floating tankers designed for transport. Oil companies can simply hold production in the ground, in essence creating organic "storage." There are close-by producers that have excess storage they can utilize, such as in Canada and Mexico.
All that is required is for the prices to make it a worthwhile investment to move crude from one place where there is an overwhelming glut to another where there is less of one.
This doesn't try to minimize the fundamental importance on price of surplus crude oil here in the U.S. We have an enormous glut that will continue to put pressure on prices and particularly help out the refiners that can take advantage of low crude oil prices where the gluts are being created, as with West Texas crude.
However, the refiners I highlighted recently including Phillips 66 (PSX) and Marathon (MPC - Get Report) are near 52-week highs and don't represent to me much value anymore. Consequently, I'd rather see investors shift into dividend-paying, large, integrated oil stocks that have been hurt by low oil prices but still will do very well with their refining divisions. In particular I like Chevron (CVX - Get Report) and Canadian oil company Suncor (SU - Get Report).
I talk more about oil storage with Jill Malandrino of Options Action in the video above.