- Saudis to Make Deepest Cut to Crude Supply Despite Demand
Saudi Aramco plans to make “the deepest customer allocation cuts in its history” in oil supplies in November to help reduce global inventories and balance the market.
State-run Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Aramco, will make an “unprecedented” cut of 560,000 barrels a day in its allocations to customers next month, the Saudi energy ministry said in a statement. Aramco plans to supply 7.15 million barrels a day “despite very strong demand” that exceeds 7.7 million barrels a day, it said.
“Saudi Arabia is once again demonstrating extraordinary leadership in its commitment to re-balancing the market, as we approach the upcoming key meeting of November 30 in Vienna, by restraining not only the top-line of production volume, but even more importantly the bottom line of exports, which are what ultimately shape global inventories and market balances,” the ministry said. “The kingdom expects all other participants in the effort to follow suit and to maintain the high levels of overall conformity achieved in August going forward.”
Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, is leading the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia in paring output under a deal that helped propel oil into a bull market in September. Lower compliance with the curbs promised by some nations combined with rising production in OPEC members Libya and Nigeria — both exempt from reducing output due to their internal strife — have added pressure on Saudi Arabia to make deeper cuts of its own.
Brent, the global benchmark, erased earlier declines to trade marginally higher at $55.62 a barrel at 3:47 pm in London after the news of the Saudi oil allocations cuts.
The decrease in allocations for November “constitutes a full 290,000 barrels a day reduction over and above the 486,000 barrels a day” that Saudi Arabia pledged to cut as part of its commitment to the global output accord, the ministry said. This adds up “to a massive total of almost 800,000 barrels a day” in cuts, it said.
Saudi Arabia scaled back exports in September to less than 6.7 million barrels a day, “despite high customer demand and the partial reduction of domestic summer crude burning requirements,” the ministry said.
Oil Prices Recover Slightly Amidst Demand Concerns in U.S. and China
Oil Prices Continue Slide as Market Skepticism Grows Over OPEC+ Cuts
Global oil markets witnessed a continued decline on Wednesday as investors assessed the impact of extended OPEC+ cuts against a backdrop of diminishing demand prospects in China.
Brent crude oil, the international benchmark for Nigerian crude oil, declined by 63 cents to $76.57 a barrel while U.S. WTI crude oil lost 58 cents to $71.74 a barrel.
Last week, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+, agreed to maintain voluntary output cuts of approximately 2.2 million barrels per day through the first quarter of 2024.
Despite this effort to tighten supply, market sentiment remains unresponsive.
“The decision to further reduce output from January failed to stimulate the market, and the recent, seemingly coordinated, assurances from Saudi Arabia and Russia to extend the constraints beyond 1Q 2024 or even deepen the cuts if needed have also fallen to deaf ears,” noted PVM analyst Tamas Varga.
Adding to the unease, Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut its official selling price (OSP) for flagship Arab Light to Asia in January for the first time in seven months raises concerns about the struggling demand for oil.
Amid the market turmoil, concerns over China’s economic health cast a shadow, potentially limiting fuel demand in the world’s second-largest oil consumer.
Moody’s recent decision to lower China’s A1 rating outlook from stable to negative further contributes to the apprehension.
Analysts will closely watch China’s preliminary trade data, including crude oil import figures, set to be released on Thursday.
The outcome will provide insights into the trajectory of China’s refinery runs, with expectations leaning towards a decline in November.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s diplomatic visit to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia has added an extra layer of complexity to the oil market dynamics.
Discussions centered around the cooperation between Russia, the UAE, and OPEC+ in major oil and gas projects, highlighting the intricate geopolitical factors influencing oil prices.
U.S. Crude Production Hits Another Record, Posing Challenges for OPEC
U.S. crude oil production reached a new record in September, surging by 224,000 barrels per day to 13.24 million barrels per day.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a consecutive monthly increase, adding 342,000 barrels per day over the previous three months, marking an annualized growth rate of 11%.
The surge in domestic production has led to a buildup of crude inventories and a softening of prices, challenging OPEC⁺ efforts to stabilize the market.
Despite a decrease in the number of active drilling rigs over the past year, U.S. production continues to rise.
This growth is attributed to enhanced drilling efficiency, with producers focusing on promising sites and drilling longer horizontal well sections to maximize contact with oil-bearing rock.
While OPEC⁺ production cuts have stabilized prices at relatively high levels, U.S. producers are benefiting from this stability.
The current strategy seems to embrace non-OPEC non-shale (NONS) producers, similar to how North Sea producers did in the 1980s.
Saudi Arabia, along with its OPEC⁺ partners, is resuming its role as a swing producer, balancing the market by adjusting its output.
Despite OPEC’s inability to formally collaborate with U.S. shale producers due to antitrust laws, efforts are made to include other NONS producers like Brazil in the coordination system.
This outreach aligns with the historical pattern of embracing rival producers to maintain control over a significant share of global production.
In contrast, U.S. gas production hit a seasonal record high in September, reaching 3,126 billion cubic feet.
However, unlike crude, there are signs that gas production growth is slowing due to very low prices and the absence of a swing producer.
Gas production increased by only 1.8% in September 2023 compared to the same month the previous year.
While the gas market is in the process of rebalancing, excess inventories may persist, keeping prices low.
The impact of a strengthening El Niño in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean could further influence temperatures and reduce nationwide heating demand, impacting gas prices in the coming months.
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