Oil fell below $35 a barrel in New York for the first time since 2009 as Iran reiterated its pledge to boost crude exports, bolstering speculation OPEC members will exacerbate the global oversupply.
Futures fell as much as 2.7 percent to $34.67 a barrel in New York, the lowest since Feb. 19, 2009. They lost almost 11 percent last week, the biggest drop in a year. There’s “absolutely no chance” Iran will delay its plan to increase shipments even as prices decline, said Amir Hossein Zamaninia, the nation’s deputy oil minister for international and commerce affairs. Speculators in the U.S. have raised bearish bets to an all-time high.
Oil slumped last week to levels last seen during the global financial crisis, while speculators increased bets on falling U.S. crude prices to an all-time high after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries effectively abandoned production limits. The supply glut will persist at least until late 2016 as demand growth slows and OPEC shows “renewed determination” to maximize output, according to the International Energy Agency.
“Gloom nourishes gloom,” said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “The market is fully acknowledging that OPEC is no longer in price-control mode or providing a floor, and that the group is unlikely to change that strategy any time soon.”
WTI for January delivery fell as much as 95 cents to $34.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $34.80 at 11:46 a.m. London time. The volume of all futures traded was 35 percent above the 100-day average. The aggregate volume of monthly WTI contracts climbed to a record of 1.596 million on the Nymex on Dec. 8. Each contract corresponds to 1,000 barrels of oil.
Brent for January settlement dropped as much as $1.31, or 3.5 percent, at $36.62 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, the lowest since Dec. 26, 2008. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $1.93 to WTI.
In the U.S., senate negotiators are nearing a deal to allow unfettered crude oil exports for the first time in 40 years, though differences remain on renewable-energy tax credits that Democrats are demanding in return, according to people close to the discussions.
While any agreement could still collapse in the coming days — the deal faces opposition in the House — lawmakers are weighing the extension of solar and wind tax credits for as long as five years in exchange for lifting the crude-export restrictions, which were established to counter the energy shortages of the 1970s.
Iran, which expects international sanctions over its nuclear program to be lifted by the first week of January, has already secured customers for its planned supply expansion, Zamaninia said in an interview in Tehran. The government is also preparing to offer oil and natural gas contracts to investors. The country pumped 2.8 million barrels a day last month, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
OPEC, which set aside its output quota at a Dec. 4 meeting, is displaying hardened resolve to maintain sales, the IEA said in its monthly report Friday. While the group’s strategy has affected other producers, triggering the steepest fall in non-OPEC supply since 1992, world oil inventories will probably swell further once Iran restores exports, predicted the Paris-based energy adviser to developed economies.
World powers said they persuaded some of Libya’s feuding factions to form a new government of national unity and act against Islamic State. Libyan representatives at a peace conference in Rome on Sunday pledged to sign a UN-brokered deal Wednesday that would be “the only legitimate basis for a solution” to the country’s crisis, said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The OPEC member’s oil production has shrunk to about 375,000 barrels a day from 1.6 million a day before the 2011 rebellion that toppled Muammar Qaddafi.
Money managers’ short position on WTI futures and options rose 5.8 percent to 181,849 contracts in the week ended Dec. 8, according to CFTC data Friday. Net longs retreated to a five-year low.
U.S. natural gas for January delivery tumbled to the lowest level since January 2002 amid forecasts that mild weather will persist through the end of the month. Futures fell as much as 5.5 percent to $1.881 per million British thermal units on the Nymex.
Oil Prices Decline on Rising India COVID-19 Cases, U.S Inflation Concerns
Global oil prices extended a decline on Friday following a 3 percent drop on Thursday as coronavirus cases rose in India, one of the world’s largest oil consumers.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, declined by 35 cents or 0.5 percent to $66.70 a barrel at 5 am Nigerian time on Tuesday while the U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell by 28 cents or 0.4 percent to $63.54 per barrel.
“The commodity super cycle rally just hit a hard stop and the energy market doesn’t know what to make of Wall Street’s fixation over inflation and the slow flattening of the curve in India,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.
“The crude demand story is still upbeat for the second half of the year and that should prevent any significant dips in oil prices,” he added.
Prices dropped over a series of key economic data that stoke inflation concerns and forced experts to start thinking the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates to curb the surge in inflation.
An increase in interest rates typically boosts the U.S. dollar, which in turn pressures oil prices because it makes crude oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.
This coupled with the fact that India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer, recorded more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths for a second straight day on Thursday, dragged on the oil outlook in the near term.
Brent Crude Rises to $69 on IEA Report
Oil prices rose after the release of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) closely-watched Oil Market Report, with WTI Crude trading at above $66 a barrel and Brent Crude surpassing the $69 per barrel mark.
Prices jumped even though the agency revised down its full-year 2021 oil demand growth forecast by 270,000 barrels per day (bpd) from last month’s assessment, expecting now demand to rise by 5.4 million bpd. The downward revision was due to weaker consumption in Europe and North America in the first quarter and expectations of 630,000 bpd lower demand in the second quarter due to India’s COVID crisis.
The excess oil inventories of the past year have been all but depleted, and a strong demand rebound in the second half this year could lead to even steeper stock draws, the IEA said yesterday, keeping an upbeat forecast of global oil demand despite the weaker-than-expected first half of 2021.
However, the upbeat outlook for the second half of the year remains unchanged, as vaccination campaigns expand and the pandemic largely comes under control, the IEA said.
Moreover, the global oil glut that was hanging over the market for more than a year is now gone, the agency said.
“After nearly a year of robust supply restraint from OPEC+, bloated world oil inventories that built up during last year’s COVID-19 demand shock have returned to more normal levels,” the IEA said in its report.
In March, industry stocks in the developed economies fell by 25 million barrels to 2.951 billion barrels, reducing the overhang versus the five-year average to only 1.7 million barrels, and stocks continued to fall in April.
“Draws had been almost inevitable as easing mobility restrictions in the United States and Europe, robust industrial activity and coronavirus vaccinations set the stage for a steady rebound in fuel demand while OPEC+ pumped far below the call on its crude,” the IEA said.
The market looks oversupplied in May, but stock draws are set to resume as early as June and accelerate later this year. Under the current OPEC+ policy, oil supply will not catch up fast enough, with a jump in demand expected in the second half, according to the IEA. As vaccination rates rise and mobility restrictions ease, global oil demand is set to soar from 93.1 million bpd in the first quarter of 2021 to 99.6 million bpd by the end of the year.
OPEC Expects Increase In Global Oil Demand Raises Members’ Forecast on Crude Supply
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) yesterday lifted its forecast on its members’ crude this year by over 200,000 bpd and now expects demand for its own crude to average 27.65mn bpd in 2021.
This is almost 5.2mn bpd higher than last year and around 2.7mn b/d higher than an earlier estimate of the group’s April production.
According to the highlights of the organisation’s latest Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR), OPEC crude is projected to rise from 26.48 million bpd in the second quarter to 28.7 million bpd in the third and 29.54 million bpd in the fourth quarter of the year.
The report also indicated a fall in Nigeria’s crude production from 1.477 bpd in February to 1.473, a difference of just about 4,000 bpd before rising again in April to 1.548 million bpd, to add 75,000 bpd last month.
OPEC stated that its upward revision of members’ crude was underpinned by a downgrade in the group’s forecast for non-OPEC supply, which it now expects to grow by 700,000 bpd to 63.6mn b/d against last month’s report’s projection of a 930,000 bpd rise to 63.83mn bpd.
The oil cartel projected that US crude output would drop by 280,000 bpd this year, compared with its previous forecast for a 70,000 bpd decline.
On the demand side, OPEC kept its overall forecast unchanged from last month’s MOMR, stressing that it expects global oil demand to grow by 5.95 million bpd to 96.46 million bpd this year, partly reversing last year’s 9.48mn bpd drop.
Spot crude prices fell in April for the first time in six months, with North Sea Dated and WTI easing month-on-month by 1.7 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
On the global economic projections, the cartel said stimulus measures in the US and accelerating recovery in Asian economies might continue supporting the global economic growth forecast for 2021, now revised up by 0.1 percent to reach 5.5 percent year-on-year.
This comes after a 3.5 percent year-on-year contraction estimated for the global economy in 2020.
However, global economic growth for 2021 remains clouded by uncertainties including, but not limited to the spread of COVID-19 variants and the speed of the global vaccine rollout, OPEC stated.
“World oil demand is assumed to have dropped by 9.5 mb/d in 2020, unchanged from last month’s assessment, now estimated to have reached 90.5 mb/d for the year. For 2021, world oil demand is expected to increase by 6.0 mb/d, unchanged from last month’s estimate, to average 96.5 mb/d,” it said.
The report listed the main drivers for supply growth in 2021 to be Canada, Brazil, China, and Norway, while US liquid supply is expected to decline by 0.1 mb/d year-on-year.
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