Can $80 Oil Be Justified?

OIL PRICE

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Oil prices could reach $80 a barrel in April, although such a price would not be justified by market fundamentals, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday.

Asked whether $80 oil is a fair price for oil, Novak told reporters at the end of an OPEC/non-OPEC ministerial meeting in Saudi Arabia that he couldn’t rule out anything, and geopolitical factors could push prices up. But $80 oil, according to Novak, is not the price that fundamentals are currently supporting, Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted the minister as saying.

Novak declined to pinpoint a specific price of oil that would be justified by fundamentals, saying that oil prices are volatile right now. When oil prices are more stable, then we would be able to say what the fair price of oil is, the minister said.

Oil prices fell on Friday morning after U.S. President Donald Trump criticized OPEC in a tweet, saying that “Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!”

Asked by reporters if he thinks that the price of oil is artificially high, Novak said “No”.

Reports over the past week have emerged that OPEC’s biggest exporter and de facto leader Saudi Arabia could be aiming for oil prices at $80 and even $100 a barrel to balance its budget and boost the valuation of its oil giant Aramco.

Related: How High Can Trump Push Oil Prices?

Some analysts do expect oil to reach $80 in the coming months.

Francisco Blanch, head of global commodities research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas that he sees oil hitting that level in this quarter, due to some bottlenecks emerging in the Permian that could slow down the growth pace.

Goldman Sachs, for its part, sees oil prices at $80 by the fourth quarter of this year due to expectations that global oil demand growth will stay high this year, and that China’s demand growth may be even higher than currently estimated.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

Oil remains close to late-2014 highs as ongoing supply cuts reduce inventories

CNBC

  • Oil prices were firm on Friday near three-year highs reached earlier this week.
  • OPEC has been withholding production since 2017 to draw down a supply overhang.
  • Crude prices have also been supported by an expectation that the U.S. will re-introduce sanctions on Iran.

An oil pump jack in Gonzales, Texas.

Getty Images
An oil pump jack in Gonzales, Texas.

Oil prices on Friday stayed near three-year highs reached earlier this week, with ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts and strong demand gradually drawing down excess supplies.

Brent crude oil futures were at $73.74 per barrel at 0657 GMT, down 4 cents from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 13 cents at $68.16 a barrel.

Both Brent and WTI hit their highest levels since November, 2014 on Thursday, at $74.75 and $69.56 per barrel respectively. WTI is set for its second weekly gain, climbing more than 1 percent this week, while Brent is also poised to rise for a second week, adding around 1.5 percent.

Traders said there had been some profit-taking on Friday following Thursday’s multi-year highs.

There was also some caution after Russia’s energy minister Alexander Novak was reported saying that a group of producers around the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as well as Russia may this year ease output restrictions.

Producer cartel OPEC and its allies have been withholding production since 2017, helping push up prices. The deal to cut is currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2018.

After a tepid start in 2017, the supply restraint had by this year started tightening markets.
“Commercial inventories in the OECD are now essentially at their five-year average, and drawdowns likely accelerate as refineries emerge from maintenance ahead of peak seasonal demand,” U.S. investment bank Jefferies said on Friday.

Saudi Arabia is 'going to the whip' to drive oil prices higher, says pro

Saudi Arabia is ‘going to the whip’ to drive oil prices higher, says pro  

“OECD commercial inventories could fall back to … a level not seen since the oil price collapse that began in 3Q14. On a day of forward demand basis, we believe cover could drop below 57 days later this year, a level last seen in 2011,” it added.

The tightness is also a result of strong oil demand.

“Global oil demand data so far in 2018 has come in line with our optimistic expectations, with 1Q18 likely to post the strongest year-on-year growth since 4Q10 at 2.55 million barrels per day,” U.S. bank Goldman Sachs said in a note published late on Thursday.

Beyond OPEC’s supply management, crude prices have also been supported by an expectation that the United States will re-introduce sanctions on OPEC-member Iran.

“The first key geopolitical issue is the expiration of the current U.S. waiver of key sanctions against Iran,” said Standard Chartered Bank in a note this week, referring to a deadline on May 12 when U.S. President Donald Trump will decide whether or not to re-impose sanctions.

One factor that could start weighing on prices is rising U.S. production, which has jumped by a quarter since the middle of 2016 to 10.54 million barrels per day (bpd), making the United States the world’s second-biggest producer of crude oil behind only Russia, which pumps almost 11 million bpd.

Oil near late-2014 highs as Saudi pushes for higher prices, US crude stocks decline

CNBC

  • Oil prices remained close to highs touched the previous day that were last seen in late 2014.
  • The EIA said on Wednesday that commercial crude stocks fell by 1.1 million barrels last week.
  • Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia would be happy to see crude rise to $80 or even $100 a barrel.

An oil pumpjack operates near Williston, North Dakota.

Andrew Cullen | Reuters
An oil pumpjack operates near Williston, North Dakota.

Oil prices on Thursday remained close to late 2014-highs reached in the previous session as U.S. crude inventories declined and as top exporter Saudi Arabia pushes for prices of $80 to $100 per barrel by continuing to withhold supplies.

Brent crude oil futures were at $73.82 per barrel at 0325 GMT, up 34 cents, or 0.5 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 28 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $68.75 a barrel.

Brent on Wednesday marked its highest level since November, 2014 at $73.93 per barrel. WTI hit its strongest since December, 2014 at $68.91 a barrel.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that top oil exporter Saudi Arabia would be happy to see crude rise to $80 or even $100 a barrel, which was seen as a sign that Riyadh will seek no changes to an OPEC supply-cutting deal that was introduced in 2017 to boost prices.

“The Saudis and their colleagues in OPEC need higher oil for their fiscal positions and the Kingdom is on a bold – and costly – reform program. So they might continue to squeeze the lemon while they have the chance,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.

Led by Saudi Arabia, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and a group of other producers that includes Russia started to withhold output in 2017 to rein in oversupply that had depressed prices since 2014.

“We are rapidly transitioning from a market drowning in oil (2014-2016) to a new reality of undersupply and low storage levels,” said Richard Robinson, manager of the Ashburton Global Energy Fund.

Since the start of the voluntary restraint, crude inventories have been gradually declining from record levels towards long-term average levels.

Further supporting oil prices is an expectation that the United States will re-introduce sanctions against OPEC-member Iran, which could result in further supply reductions from the Middle East.

In the United States, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday that commercial crude stocks fell by 1.1 million barrels in the week to April 13, to 427.57 million barrels, which is close to the five-year average level around 420 million barrels.

“Oil prices have the potential to rise another 15 percent over the remainder of 2018,” Robinson said.

With crude prices on the rise, those producers not participating in voluntary restraint are ramping up output.

U.S. crude production has jumped by a quarter since mid-2016,to a record 10.54 million barrels per day (bpd).

That’s more than Saudi Arabia produces. Only Russia churns out more oil, at almost 11 million bpd.

Oil prices rise amid risk of supply disruptions

CNBC

  • Oil prices rose on Tuesday amid worries there could be a high risk of disruptions to supply.
  • Traders said those risks included potentially spreading conflict in the Middle East and renewed U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Oil fracking California

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Oil prices rose on Tuesday amid worries there could be a high risk of disruptions to supply, especially in the Middle East.

Brent crude oil futures were at $71.69 per barrel at 0326 GMT, up 27 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 32 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $66.54 a barrel.

Traders said oil markets were receiving general support due to a sense that there were high risks of supply disruptions, including a potentially spreading conflict in the Middle East, renewed U.S. sanctions against Iran and falling output as a result of political and economic crisis in Venezuela.

“With so many potential supply disruptors in play and few signs that the current market upheaval will end any time soon, traders continue to pay the geopolitical risk premium,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore.

“Oil prices should remain bid … at least through the Iran nuclear deal deadline (May 12) if not for the remainder of 2018,” he added.

Oil markets have generally been well supported this year, with Brent up by around 16 percent from its 2018-low in February, due to healthy demand which comes as the producer cartel of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) leads supply cuts aimed at tightening the market and propping up prices.

US output soars

Beyond OPEC’s production restraint and concerns about supply disruptions, the main market driver in oil has been the United States, where crude production has soared by almost a quarter since mid-2016 to 10.53 million barrels per day (bpd), largely thanks to a booming shale industry.

Only Russia pumps out more oil currently at almost 11 million bpd.

“U.S. shale producers have been quietly capitalizing on higher oil prices with increasing rig counts seen. A staggering amount of 73 rotary rigs have been placed since January 2018,” said Benjamin Lu of Phillip Futures in a note on Tuesday.

“As such, we expect a softening in crude oil prices as markets adjust from a bullish streak,” he added.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is due to publish weekly U.S. fuel inventory data later on Tuesday while official government data, including on production, is due from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday.

Oil markets tense after western strikes on Syria, rising US drilling weighs

CNBC

  • Oil fell 1 percent on Monday as markets opened following western air strikes in Syria over the weekend.
  • Oil markets also came under pressure from a rise in U.S. oil drilling activity.

A pump jack and pipes at an oil field near Bakersfield, California.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters
A pump jack and pipes at an oil field near Bakersfield, California.

Oil fell 1 percent on Monday as markets opened following western air strikes in Syria over the weekend, while a rise in U.S. drilling for new production also dragged on prices.

The United States, France and Britain launched 105 missiles on Saturday, targeting what they said were three chemical weapons facilities in Syria in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack in Douma on April 7.

Brent crude oil futures were at $71.85 per barrel at 0547 GMT, down 73 cents, or 1 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 57 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $66.82 a barrel.

Traders said markets in Asia began cautiously after the weekend strikes, with some relief that the move looked unlikely to escalate.

“In the wake of the coordinated attack on Syria, oil prices are significantly lower … (but) the impact appears to be compact and over,” said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta.

Oil markets also came under pressure from a rise in U.S. oil drilling activity.

U.S. energy companies added seven oil rigs drilling for new production in the week to April 13, bringing the total to 815, the highest since March 2015, energy services firm Baker Hughes said on Friday.

Despite this, Brent is still up more than 16 percent from its 2018 low in February, due to healthy demand and also because of conflict and tension in the Middle East.

Although Syria itself is not a significant oil producer, the wider Middle East is the world’s most important crude exporter and tension in the region tends to put oil markets on edge.

“Investors continued to worry about the impact of a wider conflict in the Middle East,” ANZ bank said.

Oil prices could rally to $100 a barrel if Middle East tensions ‘really kick off,’ analyst says

CNBC

  • “I don’t think its unfeasible to see triple-digit oil prices at some point this year if things really kick off in the Middle East,” Anish Kapadia, founder and managing director of Akap Energy, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Friday.
  • Both benchmarks were on track to post their biggest weekly gain in more than eight months on Friday.
  • World leaders continued to mull over military action on Friday, in response to a suspected chemical attack in Syria over the weekend.

What you see is a shift in the oil market, says energy expert

What you see is a shift in the oil market, says energy expert  

Oil prices could soon skyrocket to more than $100 a barrel amid escalating tensions in the Middle East, one oil analyst told CNBC Friday.

Crude futures surged to highs not seen since December 2014 earlier in the week, underpinned by greater geopolitical uncertainty in Syria and elevated concerns over the prospect of imminent military action by Western powers.

“I don’t think its unfeasible to see triple-digit oil prices at some point this year if things really kick off in the Middle East,” Anish Kapadia, founder and managing director of Akap Energy, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Friday.

A worker prepares to lift drills by pulley in the Permian basin outside of Midland, Texas.

Brittany Sowacke | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A worker prepares to lift drills by pulley in the Permian basin outside of Midland, Texas.

He added market participants had been “laughed out the room” when they projected crude futures to reach either $60 or $70 a barrel six months ago. But heightened tensions in the Middle East had since brought about the prospect of oil prices soaring to more than $100 a barrel later this year, he added.

Geopolitical premium ‘alive and well’

Both benchmarks were on track to post their biggest weekly gain in more than eight months on Friday, shortly after President Donald Trump‘s comments about potential missile strikes and reports of dwindling global oil stocks.

Brent crude was trading at $72.26 during lunchtime deals on Friday, up around 0.3 percent, while WTI traded at $67.35, approximately 0.4 percent higher. Both benchmarks have gained about $5 since the start of the week.

An uptick in oil prices followed incendiary comments from Trump on Wednesday. The U.S. president tweeted missiles “will be coming,” in response to a suspected chemical attack in Syria over the weekend. He has since sought to dial back such explosive rhetoric, raising the prospect that an attack on Syria may not be as imminent as it first appeared.

Nonetheless, world leaders continued to mull over military action in the war-torn country on Friday.

President Donald Trump

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President Donald Trump

“Trump’s will-he-or-won’t-he antics are here to stay and will, therefore, ensure that the geopolitical risk premium remains alive and well,” Stephen Brennock, oil analyst at PVM Oil Associates, said in a research note Friday.

He added oil prices were likely to continue to extend their recent gains in the near term.

However, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said Friday it “remained to be seen” whether recently elevated oil prices could be sustained.

In the Paris-based organization’s latest monthly report, the group left its forecast for oil demand unchanged at 99.3 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018. The IEA’s outlook for supply also remained the same, as it projected non-OPEC growth to reach 1.8 million bpd this year.

Oil prices near 2014 highs over warnings of western air strikes against Syria

CNBC

  • Oil prices edged higher on Wednesday, adding to steep gains in the previous session.
  • Markets eyed an escalation of Middle East tensions after Europe’s air traffic control agency warned of possible air strikes on Syria in the next 72 hours.

A pump jack operates at a well site leased by Devon Energy Production Co. near Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Nick Oxford | Reuters
A pump jack operates at a well site leased by Devon Energy Production Co. near Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Oil prices edged higher on Wednesday, adding to steep gains in the previous session, as markets eyed an escalation of Middle East tensions after Europe’s air traffic control agency warned of possible air strikes on Syria in the next 72 hours.

Brent crude futures rose to $71.09 per barrel at 0104 GMT, up 7 cents from their last close. Brent surged more than 3 percent on Tuesday to hit its highest level since late 2014, at $71.34 a barrel.

U.S. WTI crude futures were at $65.63 a barrel, up 12 from their last settlement.

The United States and its allies are considering a strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces following a suspected poison gas attack last weekend.

Pan-European air traffic control agency Eurocontrol said air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles could be used within the next 72 hours, warning that there was a possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment.

Although Syria itself is not a significant oil producer itself, the wider Middle East is the world’s most important crude exporter and tension in the region tends to put oil markets on edge.

Oil markets were also supported by easing concerns over a prolonged trade spat between the United States and China after China’s President Xi Jinping on Tuesday gave a speech with a conciliatory tone.

“The relaxation of tensions between the U.S. and China (is) allowing oil traders to exercise their worries over geopolitics,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.

Not all oil market indicators pointed to ongoing price rises, however.U.S. crude inventories rose by 1.8 million barrels in the week to April 6 to 429.1 million, according to a report by the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 189,000 barrels.

And the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday that it expects domestic crude oil production in 2019 to rise by more than previously expected, driven largely by growing U.S. shale output.

In its monthly short-term energy outlook, the agency forecast that U.S. crude oil output will rise by 750,000 barrels per day to 11.44 million bpd next year. Last month, it expected a 570,000 bpd year-over-year increase to 11.27 million bpd.

That will likely make the United states the world’s biggest oil producer by 2019, surpassing Russia which currently pumps out almost 11 million bpd.