Oil jumps as Trump talks up truce hopes for Saudi-Russia price war

CNBC

Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Brent crude futures rose 5.9%, or $1.46, to $26.20 as of 0418 GMT.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 4.6% or 94 cents, at $21.25.
GP: Saudi Aramco oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia 200310 EU
A worker at an oil processing facility of Saudi Aramco, a Saudi Arabian state-owned oil and gas company, at the Abqaiq oil field.
Stanislav Krasilnikov | TASS | Getty Images

Crude oil futures surged on Thursday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he expected Saudi Arabia and Russia to reach a deal soon to end their oil price war and Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a solution to “challenging” oil markets.

Brent crude futures rose 5.9%, or $1.46, to $26.20 as of 0418 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 4.6% or 94 cents, at $21.25.

Trump said he had talked recently with the leaders of both Russia and Saudi Arabia and believed the two countries would make a deal to end their price war within a “few days” — lowering production and bringing prices back up.

He also said he would be meeting with oil executives, where he is expected to discuss a range of options to help the industry amid the sharp hit to demand as the coronavirus outbreak has hammered industrial activity and kept cars off the road.

Speaking at a government meeting on Wednesday, Putin said that both oil producers and consumers should find a solution that would improve the “challenging” situation of global oil markets.

Some analysts cautioned there is still a long way to go before any output cut agreement is struck.

With markets facing 15 million barrels per day (bpd) of oversupply in the second quarter and storage maxing out in April, extraordinary curtailments of oil supply will be needed in May and June, said Kang Wu, head of Asia analytics at S&P Global Platts.

Brent prices need to drop to low-$10 per barrel to force immediate supply curtailment, he added, forecasting global oil demand to decline around 4.5 million bpd this year.

Research firm Rystad Energy estimates global crude oil demand in April will fall nearly 23% year-on-year to 77.6 million bpd.

Saudi Arabia’s crude supply rose on Wednesday to a record of more than 12 million barrels per day, two industry sources said, despite a plunge in demand and U.S. pressure on the kingdom to stop flooding the market.

“This is a clear sign that the Saudis are not ready to back off in the price war, despite the Russians now saying that they will not increase output given the current oversupply in the market,” ING said in a research note on Thursday.

U.S. crude stockpiles rose 13.8 million barrels in their biggest weekly increase since 2016 and analysts expected stocks to keep rising as refineries curb output and gasoline demand falls.

“At the current price, many U.S. oil exploring energy companies won’t be able to make a profit and drilling activities might fall in North America,” CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said.

U.S. shale producer Whiting Petroleum Corp, once the largest oil producer in North Dakota, on Wednesday became the first publicly traded casualty of the oil price collapse as it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

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