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$80 Oil is Sending the Market Toward Demand Destruction, Says Morgan Stanley

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The current energy market picture is looking good for oil bulls. 

International benchmark Brent crude passed the long-anticipated threshold of $80 per barrel on Tuesday, though it’s since slipped back down to trade at $78.47 as of Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in London. West Texas Intermediate was trading at $74.73 per barrel around the same time.  

With winter ahead and a gas crunch in Europe, the demand picture appears promising. But demand destruction could be right around the corner as prices climb higher, some experts are warning.

“Oil prices have disconnected from the marginal cost of supply. Instead, they are travelling to the level where demand destruction kicks in, which we estimate at ~$80/bbl.” That’s what Morgan Stanley wrote in June, and in a note Tuesday, the bank wrote: “This remains our thesis.”

It added, however, that “the price at which demand destruction kicks in can be fiendishly difficult to estimate. We leave our price forecast unchanged for now but recognise that, on current trends, upside to our bull case scenario to $85/bbl clearly exists.”

Morgan Stanley foresees global oil supply getting tighter, citing an average of 3 million barrels of crude per day of inventory draws in the last month, compared to 1.9 million barrels per day drawn in the preceding months of this year.

“These draws are high and suggest the market is more undersupplied than generally perceived,” the bank’s analysts Martijn Rats and Amy Sergeant said.

Furthermore, flights and transport have picked up, with Flightradar data on commercial flights “closing the gap to pre-covid levels,” they said.

Still, not all the signs are bullish.

The World Bank said Tuesday that the Delta variant is slowing economic growth in the East Asia and Pacific region, and growth forecasts have been downgraded for most of the region’s countries. And China faces a potential slowdown with its Evergrande crisis and a growing power shortage that’s hitting factories, homes and supply chains.

“China’s economic troubles are casting a dark shadow on the demand side of the oil coin and hence the price outlook,” warned Stephen Brennock, a senior analyst at London-based PVM Oil Associates.

Higher energy prices will also fuel even higher inflation, which poses a significant threat to demand.

“Rising oil prices have been one of the biggest drivers of inflation,” Brennock wrote in a Tuesday note. “And a worsening inflationary situation will act as a drag on the fragile economic recovery and oil consumption. This brings us neatly onto the issue of demand destruction.”

China and India, some of the world’s top oil importers, this month began selling oil from their strategic reserves in an unprecedented move to try to lower crude prices as energy costs surged across the region. While it hasn’t succeeded in lowering global prices, it sent a significant message.

“The reason for this turn of events is price,” Brennock wrote. “At over $70/bbl, crude appears to have become too expensive for Beijing and New Delhi … Oil prices hitting $80/bbl will be a severe pain point for these key crude buyers and is likely to undermine import demand.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Rise on U.S. Inventory Draws Despite Global Demand Worries

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Oil prices gained on Wednesday following the reduction in U.S. crude and fuel inventories.

However, the market remains cautious due to ongoing concerns about weak global demand.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian crude oil is priced, increased by 66 cents, or 0.81% to $81.67 a barrel. Similarly, U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 78 cents, or 1.01%, to $77.74 per barrel.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a substantial decline in crude inventories by 3.7 million barrels last week, surpassing analysts’ expectations of a 1.6-million-barrel draw.

Gasoline stocks also fell by 5.6 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles decreased by 2.8 million barrels, contradicting predictions of a 250,000-barrel increase.

Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group, described the EIA report as “very bullish,” indicating a potential for future crude draws as demand appears to outpace supply.

Despite these positive inventory trends, the market is still wary of global demand weaknesses. Concerns stem from a lackluster summer driving season in the U.S., which is expected to result in lower second-quarter earnings for refiners.

Also, economic challenges in China, the world’s largest crude importer, and declining oil deliveries to India, the third-largest importer, contribute to the apprehension about global demand.

Wildfires in Canada have further complicated the supply landscape, forcing some producers to cut back on production.

Imperial Oil, for instance, has reduced non-essential staff at its Kearl oil sands site as a precautionary measure.

While prices snapped a three-session losing streak due to the inventory draws and supply risks, the market remains under pressure.

Factors such as ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas, and China’s economic slowdown, continue to weigh heavily on traders’ minds.

In recent sessions, WTI had fallen 7%, with Brent down nearly 5%, reflecting the volatility and uncertainty gripping the market.

As the industry navigates these complex dynamics, analysts and investors alike are closely monitoring developments that could further impact oil prices.

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Oil Prices Climb as Markets Eye Potential US Rate Cuts in September

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Oil prices rose during the Asian trading session today on speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve may begin cutting interest rates as soon as September.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, increased by 32 cents to $82.95 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil climbed 34 cents to $80.47.

The anticipation of rate cuts stems from recent U.S. inflation and labor market data indicating a trend towards disinflation and balanced employment, according to ANZ Research.

The Federal Reserve is set to review its policy on July 30-31, with expectations of holding rates steady but providing clues for potential cuts in September.

The potential rate cuts could stimulate economic activity, increasing demand for oil. This optimism has been partially offset by recent concerns over China’s slower-than-expected economic growth, which could dampen global oil demand.

President Joe Biden’s announcement to not seek re-election and endorse Vice President Kamala Harris had minimal impact on oil markets.

Analysts suggest that U.S. presidential influence on oil production is limited, although a potential Trump presidency could boost oil demand due to his stance against electric vehicles.

In response to economic challenges, China surprised markets by lowering key policy and lending rates. While these measures aim to bolster the economy, analysts remain cautious about their immediate impact on oil demand.

With OPEC+ production cuts continuing to support prices, the focus remains on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s next moves.

Any decision to cut rates could further influence oil prices in the coming months, highlighting the interconnectedness of global economic policies and energy markets.

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Dangote Refinery Clash Threatens Nigeria’s Oil Sector Stability

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Nigeria’s oil and gas sector is facing a new challenge as a dispute between Dangote Industries Limited and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Agency (NMDPRA) intensifies.

The disagreement centers on claims by NMDPRA that diesel from the Dangote Refinery contains high sulfur levels, making it inferior to imported products.

The $20 billion Dangote Refinery, located near Lagos, has the potential to process half of Nigeria’s daily oil output, promising to reduce dependency on foreign fuel imports and create thousands of jobs.

However, the recent accusations have cast a shadow over what should be a significant achievement for Africa’s largest economy.

Industry experts warn that the ongoing conflict could deter future investments in Nigeria’s oil sector.

“Regulatory uncertainty is a major disincentive for investors,” said Luqman Agboola, head of energy at Sofidia Capital. “Any factor affecting foreign investment impacts the entire value chain, risking potential energy deals.”

The regulatory body, led by Farouk Ahmed, maintains that Nigeria cannot rely solely on the Dangote facility to meet its petroleum needs, emphasizing the need for diverse sources.

This position has stirred controversy, with critics accusing the agency of attempting to undermine a vital national asset.

Amidst these tensions, energy analyst Charles Ogbeide described the agency’s comments as reckless, noting that the refinery is still in its commissioning stages and is working to optimize its sulfur output.

In response, Dangote Industries has called for fair assessments of its products, asserting that their diesel meets African standards.

The refinery’s leadership argues that certain factions may have ulterior motives, aiming to stifle progress through misinformation.

As the dispute continues, the broader implications for Nigeria’s oil sector remain uncertain. The outcome will likely influence not only domestic production but also the country’s standing in the global energy market.

Observers hope for a resolution that supports both industrial growth and regulatory integrity, ensuring stability in a sector crucial to Nigeria’s economy.

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