Oil prices jumped on Monday, extending a rally that has lifted crude benchmarks by more than a third from this year’s lows, as tightening supply and an improving global outlook strengthened the sentiment for a market recovery.
Front-month Brent LCOc1 crude futures were trading at $39.49 per barrel at 0400 GMT, up 77 cents or 2 percent from their last settlement. That is up more than a third from a low hit in January, when prices fell to levels not seen since 2003.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were trading at $36.63 a barrel, up 71 cents from the last close and 40 percent above lows touched in February.
“It looks at this stage as if it (oil) has formed a little bit of a bottom and perhaps we’re going to see a sustained price in the $30s, maybe trending back up to $40 dollars at some point,” said Ben Le Brun, market analyst at OptionsXpress.
Le Brun said an improved economic outlook was pushing prices: “The macro picture takes all corners of the globe into account, and those corners seem to be improving … and that’s where I’m seeing the oil price tick higher.”
Analysts said that strong U.S. payroll data had pushed markets on Friday and early Monday, but that attention was now shifting to Asia.
Morgan Stanley said on Monday that China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, which opens its annual session this week listed “to ease market barriers for transport, oil, and gas” among key policy targets this year.
On the supply side, U.S. energy firms cut oil rigs for an 11th week in a row to the lowest level since December 2009, data showed on Friday, as producers slash costs.
Drillers removed eight oil rigs in the week ended March 4, bringing the total count down to 392, oil services company Baker Hughes Inc (BHI.N) said. [RIG-OL-USA-BHI]
Beyond a tightening supply outlook, traders said a shift in sentiment was also lifting prices as they shut down short positions and abandoned bets on further falls in prices.
Trading data shows that the number of managed short positions on WTI contracts – which would benefit from lower prices – have fallen more than a quarter since mid-February, with many new long positions betting on rising prices being opened.
Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets said “there’s a good prospect that Brent could hit $40 … (it) could easily do it in the next trading session.”
Crude Oil Dips Slightly on Friday Amid Demand Concerns
On Friday, global crude oil prices experienced a slight dip, primarily attributed to mounting concerns surrounding demand despite signs of a tightening market.
Brent crude prices edged lower, nearing $83 per barrel, following a recent uptick of 1.6% over two consecutive sessions.
Similarly, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude hovered around $78 per barrel. Despite the dip, market indicators suggest a relatively robust market, with US crude inventories expanding less than anticipated in the previous week.
The oil market finds itself amidst a complex dynamic, balancing optimistic signals such as reduced OPEC+ output and heightened tensions in the Middle East against persistent worries about Chinese demand, particularly as the nation grapples with economic challenges.
This delicate equilibrium has led oil futures to mirror the oscillations of broader stock markets, underscoring the interconnectedness of global economic factors.
Analysts, including Michael Tran from RBC Capital Markets LLC, highlight the recurring theme of robust oil demand juxtaposed with concerning Chinese macroeconomic data, contributing to market volatility.
Also, recent attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi militants have added a risk premium to oil futures, reflecting geopolitical uncertainties beyond immediate demand-supply dynamics.
While US crude inventories saw a slight rise, they remain below seasonal averages, indicating some resilience in the market despite prevailing uncertainties.
Nigeria’s Petrol Imports Decrease by 1 Billion Litres Following Subsidy Removal
Nigeria’s monthly petrol imports declined by approximately 1 billion litres following the fuel subsidy removal by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported.
The NBS findings illuminate the tangible effects of this policy shift on the country’s petroleum importation dynamics.
Prior to the subsidy removal, the NBS report delineated a consistent pattern of petrol imports with quantities ranging between 1.91 billion and 2.29 billion litres from March to May 2023.
However, in the aftermath of Tinubu’s decision, the nation witnessed a notable downturn in petrol imports, with figures plummeting to 1.64 billion litres in June, the first post-subsidy month.
This downward trend persisted in subsequent months, with July recording a further reduction to 1.45 billion litres and August witnessing a significant decline to 1.09 billion litres.
August’s import figures represented a decrease of over 1 billion litres compared to the corresponding period in 2022.
The NBS report underscores the pivotal role of the subsidy removal in reshaping Nigeria’s petrol import landscape with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company emerging as the sole importer of fuel in the current scenario.
Despite higher petrol imports in the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year, the decline in June, July, and August underscores the profound impact of subsidy removal on import dynamics, affirming the NBS’s latest findings.
Nigeria’s Oil Rig Count Soars From 11 to 30, Says NUPRC CEO
The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, has announced a surge in the country’s oil rig count.
Komolafe disclosed that Nigeria’s oil rigs have escalated from 11 to 30, a substantial increase since 2011.
Attributing this surge to concerted efforts by NUPRC and other governmental stakeholders, Komolafe highlighted the importance of instilling confidence, certainty, and predictability in the oil and gas industry.
He explained the pivotal role of the recently implemented Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which has spurred significant capital expenditure amounting to billions of dollars over the past two and a half years.
Speaking in Lagos after receiving The Sun Award, Komolafe underscored the effective discharge of NUPRC’s statutory mandate, which has contributed to the success stories witnessed in the sector.
The surge in Nigeria’s oil rig count signifies a tangible measure of vibrant activities within the upstream oil and gas sector, reflecting increased drilling activity and heightened industry dynamism.
Also, Komolafe noted that NUPRC has issued over 17 regulations aimed at enhancing certainty and predictability in industry operations, aligning with the objectives outlined in the PIA.
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