- Oil Rises to $79 a Barrel on Norway Strike, Libyan Disruption
Oil prices rose by over 1 percent toward $79 per barrel on Tuesday due to growing supply outages, with Norway shutting one oilfield as hundreds of workers began a strike and Libya saying its production more than halved in recent months.
The disruptions add to supply worries around the world. Venezuela’s production has collapsed due to a lack of investment and Iranian exports have suffered due to U.S sanctions. OPEC has little capacity to fill the gap as demand for oil quickens.
Benchmark Brent oil futures LCOc1 rose by 96 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $79.03 per barrel by 1147 GMT. They earlier hit an intraday high of $79.29. Brent gained 1.2 percent on Monday.
U.S. light crude futures CLc1 were up 35 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $74.20.
Mounting supply concerns could push Brent above $85 per barrel, MUFG Bank said in a note.
“Renewed geopolitical supply-side disruptions stemming from Canada, Iran, Libya, Venezuela and the U.S. raise the likelihood of oil trade interruptions and with it upside risks to oil prices in the near term,” MUFG said.
Hundreds of workers on Norwegian offshore oil and gas rigs went on strike on Tuesday after rejecting a proposed wage deal, leading to the shutdown of one Shell-operated oilfield.
That potentially adds to disruptions in other oil producers amid tensions in the Middle East.
Libya’s national oil production fell to 527,000 barrels per day (bpd) from a high of 1.28 million bpd in February following recent oil port closures, National Oil Corp said on Monday.
The United States says it wants to reduce oil exports from Iran, the world’s fifth-biggest producer, to zero by November, which would oblige other big producers to pump more.
Saudi Arabia, fellow members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia agreed last month to increase output to dampen price gains and offset global production losses.
The market has grown concerned that if Saudi Arabia offsets the losses from Iran, that will use up global spare capacity and leave markets more vulnerable to further or unexpected production declines.
“The bottom line becomes the available spare capacity within OPEC … and the markets have started to focus on that,” said Victor Shum, vice-president for energy at IHS markets in Singapore.
Money managers raised their bullish bets on U.S. crude in the week to July 3, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Monday.
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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