Oil Markets - OPEC Restraint Needs To Stretch Into 2018

Crude Oil Prices May Fall as Markets Sour After Mnuchin G20 Debut

Crude Oil Prices May Fall as Markets Sour After Mnuchin G20 Debut

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih walked in the footsteps of his predecessor, Ali al-Naimi, at a prominent annual oil industry conference in Houston on March 7 to again deliver a warning to investors in the USA shale patch, albeit in a milder tone: Do not give in to "irrational exuberance".

Oil prices fell more than 1 percent on Monday as investors made record cuts to bets on rising prices after strong drilling data from the United States fed concerns about the effectiveness of OPEC-led production cuts to curb a supply glut. Meanwhile, US crude oil prices had risen ~8.3% in the last 12 months. "As such, average oil prices for 2017 are not expected to exceed $60 per barrel".

Last year's big rally in oil markets was triggered initially by confidence, that two years of financial pain was forcing OPEC to shift strategy and support prices. Output is now around 620,000 barrels per day (far less than the 1.6 million barrels a day it produced before a 2011 uprising) as Es Sider, the country's biggest oil port, and Ras Lanuf, its third-largest, remain closed.

Traders are shipping competitively priced crudes such as Russian Urals, Kazakhstan's CPC Blend, North Sea Forties and US West Texas Intermediate to replace Middle East staples from Oman to Abu Dhabi. Their estimate is that, if the situation on those fronts remains flat from current levels and if nothing unexpected transpires, it's looking like global demand will outpace global supplies by 0.5 million barrels per day in the first half of this year.

After seeing a few days of plummeting oil prices, we are, once again, on the mend.

Is It the Beginning of a Bear Market for Crude Oil?
On Friday, energy services firm Baker Hughes reported U.S. drillers added oil rigs for the ninth consecutive week. West Texas Intermediate ( WTI) crude futures (CLc1) were trading 73 cents lower at $48.05 a barrel.

The IEA said crude stocks in the world's richest nations rose in January for the first time since July by 48 million barrels to 3.03 billion barrels.

Thomson Reuters Oil Research and Forecasts data shows around 714 million barrels of oil are being shipped to Asia this month, up three per cent since December when the cuts were announced.

Going by the latest figures from the International Energy Agency, which show an average 1.5 million bpd buildup in OECD inventories through January, a back-of-the-envelope calculation shows stocks will need to shrink an average of almost 2.2 million bpd between February and June.

Palm oil looks neutral in a range of 2,767-2,810 ringgit per tonne, and an escape could signal a direction, said Wang Tao, a Reuters market analyst for commodities and energy technicals. Also, two years of disagreements between the oil producers threw the deal into doubt.

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