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Oil Prices Stable Amid OPEC+ Anticipation and Global Economic Concerns

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Crude Oil - Investors King

Oil prices remained relatively unchanged on Thursday as investors awaited the outcome of an eagerly anticipated OPEC+ meeting, which could potentially result in deeper supply cuts in 2024.

Brent crude oil increased by 70 cents to $83.80 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude inched up by 55 cents to settle at $78.41 a barrel.

The OPEC+ group, comprising the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies like Russia, is scheduled to conduct virtual meetings on Thursday to discuss additional production cuts, potentially ranging from 1 million to 2 million barrels per day in early 2024.

Implementing these additional cuts may lead to an immediate surge in prices, but their long-term impact is viewed skeptically by industry experts.

Tamas Varga, an oil broker at PVM, expressed doubt about compliance and suggested that the global oil balance might be less tight than OPEC estimates.

Factors such as the latest U.S. commercial inventory data, revealing an unexpected increase of 1.6 million barrels, and persistently high interest rates in major economies could dampen oil demand.

Despite the surprise build in U.S. crude oil stocks reported by the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday, oil prices remained resilient, with investors focused on the OPEC+ meeting.

Adding to concerns about the demand side, China’s economic challenges persist, highlighted by recent factory data indicating contraction for the second consecutive month in November.

This economic backdrop adds a layer of uncertainty to the oil market, as China is a significant player in global oil consumption.

Investors are closely monitoring the OPEC+ decisions, and the outcome is expected to influence short-term oil prices, although underlying economic challenges continue to cast shadows on the broader outlook for the industry.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Slide as U.S. Crude Stockpiles Surge, Heightening Demand Concerns

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Oil prices declined on Thursday as concerns over demand intensified due to a larger-than-anticipated build in U.S. crude stockpiles.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, dropped by 0.5% to $83.25 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell by 0.3% to $78.28 a barrel.

The Energy Information Administration’s report revealed a substantial increase in U.S. crude oil stockpiles by 4.2 million barrels to 447.2 million barrels for the week ending February 23rd.

This surge surpassed analysts’ expectations and marked the fifth consecutive week of rising inventories.

While gasoline and distillate inventories witnessed a decline, concerns regarding a sluggish economy and reduced oil demand in the U.S. were amplified.

Satoru Yoshida, a commodity analyst with Rakuten Securities, highlighted that the significant stockpiles have heightened investor worries.

Moreover, the anticipation of delayed U.S. interest rate cuts further weighed on market sentiment, potentially undermining oil demand.

Traders have adjusted their expectations for rate cuts, with an easing cycle predicted to commence in June rather than March as previously anticipated.

Market participants await the U.S. personal consumption expenditures price index for insights into inflation trends, while the possibility of an extension of voluntary oil output cuts from OPEC+ looms over price dynamics, amid lingering uncertainty in the demand outlook and geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.

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Crude Oil Shortage Threatens Dangote, Government Refineries, Minister Raises Alarm

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Dangote Refinery

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, has sounded a clarion call over a looming crude oil shortage that threatens the operations of the newly inaugurated Dangote Petrochemical Refinery and government-owned refineries in Nigeria.

Addressing stakeholders at the seventh edition of the Nigeria International Energy Summit in Abuja, Minister Lokpobiri expressed concerns that unless deliberate efforts are made to increase investments and crude oil production, these refineries may struggle to obtain enough feedstock for petroleum product manufacturing.

The Dangote refinery, a colossal project spearheaded by Dangote Industries Limited, has a daily requirement of up to 650,000 barrels of crude oil, while government-owned refineries could need approximately 400,000 barrels.

However, the current pace of crude oil production and investment in Nigeria falls short of meeting these demands.

Minister Lokpobiri highlighted the need to ramp up production and attract investments in the upstream sector to ensure adequate feedstock supply for the refineries.

He emphasized the importance of efficiently utilizing Nigeria’s abundant oil and gas reserves to enhance domestic energy security and economic prosperity.

Furthermore, the minister underscored the significance of investing in energy infrastructure and transitioning towards more environmentally friendly practices to address Nigeria’s energy needs effectively.

The alarm raised by Minister Lokpobiri underscores the urgency for strategic interventions and collaborative efforts to mitigate the impending crude oil shortage and secure the future of Nigeria’s refining industry amidst evolving global energy dynamics.

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Oil Prices Surge as Brent Approaches $83, WTI Nears $78 Amidst Refinery Buying Activity

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Oil prices surged as Brent crude oil approached the $83 price level while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) neared $78 as refineries in the United States and China increased purchases.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, gained 1.1% on Monday, signaling a bullish trend in the oil market.

The recent uptick in oil prices comes amidst signs of heightened demand from refineries, particularly in key markets like the US and China.

This surge in demand has contributed to the strengthening of timespreads, indicating tighter conditions in the near term.

Market observers are closely monitoring the International Energy Week in London, where industry leaders are convening to discuss the outlook for the global energy market.

Scheduled speakers include Russell Hardy, the CEO of Vitol Group, a major player in the energy sector.

While tensions in the Middle East and production cuts by the OPEC+ alliance have supported crude prices, increased production from non-OPEC+ countries, notably the US, has capped potential gains.

Analysts predict that oil prices may continue to trade within a range, with Brent crude expected to hover around $83, while WTI remains near the $78 mark, barring significant shifts in market dynamics.

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