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Crude Oil Slumps on Supply Concerns after Four Days of Gains

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  • Crude Oil Slumps on Supply Concerns after Four Days of Gains

Crude oil prices dropped yesterday ending a four-day winning streak amid concerns about the rising inventory in the global market as the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) mulls production cuts.

Apart from the surplus inventory in the oil market, growing fears of an economic slowdown, which saw European and Asian stock markets tumble again, added further pressure on crude oil prices.

Reuters reported that the global Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $66.07 a barrel, down 72 cents, or 1.08 per cent, from their last close.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $56.63 per barrel, down 57 cents, or one per cent.

Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak said on Monday that his country, which is not an OPEC member, planned to sign a partnership agreement with the group, and that details would be discussed at OPEC’s December 6 meeting in Vienna, Austria.

The plan by OPEC and Russia to cut supply to the international market followed an increased alarm that supply has started to outpace consumption.

US President Donald Trump had posted a tweet meant to put pressure on OPEC not to cut supply to prop up prices.

Trump’s tweet followed reports that Saudi Arabia was considering a production cut at the December OPEC meeting.

The United States’ sanctions against Iran, which took effect on November 4, are expected to reduce supply to the global market.

However, a US decision to grant waivers to some of Iran’s oil customers, who faced the prospect of a drop-off in supply from the sanctions, has also helped soothe concern about availability of crude.

The Head of Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), energy advisor to about 26 industrialised countries, Fatih Birol, said on Monday that oil supply cuts by key producers could have negative implications for markets.

He appealed to market players to use “common sense”.

Speaking at a news conference with central European energy ministers in Bratislava, Birol reportedly said markets were currently well supplied but spare capacity in Saudi Arabia was thin and cuts by key players could tighten markets.

“Currently markets are very well supplied but we should not forget that spare capacity in Saudi Arabia is very thin, therefore cutting the production significantly today by key oil producers may have some negative implications for the markets and further tightening the markets,” he said.

Birol yesterday warned of the effects of geopolitical instability on prices.

“We are entering an unprecedented period of uncertainty in oil markets,” Fatih Birol told a conference in Norway.

Oil prices are around a quarter below their recent peaks in early October, weighed down by surging supply, especially from the United States, as well as a slowdown in global trade.

US crude production has soared almost 25 per cent this year, to a record 11.7 million barrels per day (bpd).

Amid the uncertainty, financial traders have become wary of oil markets, seeing further downside risk to prices from the growth in U.S. shale production as well as the deteriorating economic outlook.

Portfolio managers have sold the equivalent of 553 million barrels of crude and fuels in the last seven weeks, the largest reduction over a comparable period since at least 2013.

Funds now hold a net long position of just 547 million barrels, less than half the recent peak of 1.1 billion at the end of September, and down from a record 1.484 billion in January.

Concerned about an emerging production overhang similar to the one that led to a price slump in 2014, OPEC is pushing for a supply cut of 1 million to 1.4 million bpd.

“We expect OPEC to agree to a supply cut at its next official meeting on December 6,” Reuters quoted French bank, BNP Paribas, as saying.

The bank added that it expected Brent to recover to $80 per barrel before the year-end.

“In 2019, we expect WTI to average $69 per barrel and Brent $76 per barrel,” BNP said.

The IEA, however, warned OPEC and other producers of the “negative implications” of supply cuts, with many analysts fearing a spike in crude prices could erode consumption.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Crude Oil

Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

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Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

Oil retreated from an earlier rally with investment banks and traders predicting the market can go significantly higher in the months to come.

Futures in New York pared much of an earlier increase to $63 a barrel as the dollar climbed and equities slipped. Bank of America said prices could reach $70 at some point this year, while Socar Trading SA sees global benchmark Brent hitting $80 a barrel before the end of the year as the glut of inventories built up during the Covid-19 pandemic is drained by the summer.

The loss of oil output after the big freeze in the U.S. should help the market firm as much of the world emerges from lockdowns, according to Trafigura Group. Inventory data due later Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute and more from the Energy Department on Wednesday will shed more light on how the Texas freeze disrupted U.S. oil supply last week.

Oil has surged this year after Saudi Arabia pledged to unilaterally cut 1 million barrels a day in February and March, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicting the rally will accelerate as demand outpaces global supply. Russia and Riyadh, however, will next week once again head into an OPEC+ meeting with differing opinions about adding more crude to the market.

“The freeze in the U.S. has proved supportive as production was cut,” said Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro. “We still expect that Russia will push for a significant rise in production,” which could soon weigh on prices, he said.

PRICES

  • West Texas Intermediate for April fell 27 cents to $61.43 a barrel at 9:20 a.m. New York time
  • Brent for April settlement fell 8 cents to $65.16

Brent’s prompt timespread firmed in a bullish backwardation structure to the widest in more than a year. The gap rose above $1 a barrel on Tuesday before easing to 87 cents. That compares with 25 cents at the start of the month.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and oil trader Vitol Group shot down talk of a new oil supercycle, though they said a lack of supply response will keep prices for crude prices firm in the short term.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Rise With Storm-hit U.S. Output Set for Slow Return

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Oil Prices Rise With Storm-hit U.S. Output Set for Slow Return

Oil prices rose on Monday as the slow return of U.S. crude output cut by frigid conditions served as a reminder of the tight supply situation, just as demand recovers from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brent crude was up $1.38, or 2.2%, at $64.29 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate gained $1.38, or 2.33%, to trade at $60.62 per barrel.

Abnormally cold weather in Texas and the Plains states forced the shutdown of up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production along with 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas output, analysts estimated.

Shale oil producers in the region could take at least two weeks to restart the more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude output affected, sources said, as frozen pipes and power supply interruptions slow their recovery.

“With three-quarters of fracking crews standing down, the likelihood of a fast resumption is low,” ANZ Research said in a note.

For the first time since November, U.S. drilling companies cut the number of oil rigs operating due to the cold and snow enveloping Texas, New Mexico and other energy-producing centres.

OPEC+ oil producers are set to meet on March 4, with sources saying the group is likely to ease curbs on supply after April given a recovery in prices, although any increase in output will likely be modest given lingering uncertainty over the pandemic.

“Saudi Arabia is eager to pursue yet higher prices in order to cover its social break-even expenses at around $80 a barrel while Russia is strongly focused on unwinding current cuts and getting back to normal production,” said SEB chief commodity analyst Bjarne Schieldrop.

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Crude Oil

Crude Oil Rose Above $65 Per Barrel as US Production Drop Due to Texas Weather

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Crude Oil Rose Above $65 Per Barrel as US Production Drop Due to Texas Weather

Oil prices rose to $65.47 per barrel on Thursday as crude oil production dropped in the US due to frigid Texas weather.

The unusual weather has left millions in the dark and forced oil producers to shut down production. According to reports, at least the winter blast has claimed 24 lives.

Brent crude oil gained $2 to $65.47 on Thursday morning before pulling back to $64.62 per barrel around 11:00 am Nigerian time.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 2.3 percent to settle at $61.74 per barrel.

“This has just sent us to the next level,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York. “Crude oil WTI will probably max out somewhere pretty close to $65.65, refinery utilization rate will probably slide to somewhere around 76%,” Yawger said.

However, the report that Saudi Arabia plans to increase production in the coming months weighed on crude oil as it can be seen in the chart below.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister, warned that it was too early to declare victory against the COVID-19 virus and that oil producers must remain “extremely cautious”.

“We are in a much better place than we were a year ago, but I must warn, once again, against complacency. The uncertainty is very high, and we have to be extremely cautious,” he told an energy industry event.

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