The effect of new IMO 2020 regulations will be one of the key three essential factors expected to determine the direction of the oil price next year, according to research firm Rystad Energy. A balanced oil market in 2020 is contingent also on a no-global-recession and continued OPEC production cuts.
According to Gibson Shipbrokers, OPEC+ announced the expansion of their product cuts for additional nine months until the end of the first quarter of 2020. Yet, the OPEC cuts are a negative development concerning Middle East’s tanker market, mostly affecting VLCCs.
As OPEC and OPEC+ meet in Vienna, the outlook for the market is mixed, according to Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president, Macro Oils, at Wood Mackenzie energy consultancy. Geopolitical risk means the supply outlook is tightening, offsetting the moderate weakening in oil demand growth thus far this year, she said.
In its ‘Oil Market Report: 2020 vision’, IEA reports that volatility has returned to oil markets with a dramatic sell-off in late May seeing Brent prices fall from $70/bbl to $60/bbl. In addition, supply concerns have not gone away, as oil prices initially increased by 4% after the attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, before easing back slightly.
US imports of crude oil from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in March 2019 totaled 1.5 million barrels per day (b/d), their lowest level since March 1986, according to data provided by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
As Rystad Energy reports, on top of production declines in Iran and Venezuela, ongoing OPEC cuts, Urals contamination outages in Russia and maintenance in Kazakhstan, North Sea production is also facing difficulties. It is expected that North Sea oil production will drop during June, reaching the lowest level since August 2014 as Ekofisk goes into maintenance.
OPEC crude production reduced by 240,000 b/d in February to 30.68 million b/d, which is the lowest level in 4 years. According to Gibson Shipbrokers, February numbers indicate a significant over compliance, with Saudi Arabia leading efforts to implement cuts with a 153% compliance rate, some 170,000 b/d already below their overall target.
OPEC crude production fell by 240,000 b/d in February to 30.68 million b/d, its lowest level in 4 years, said Gibson Shipbrokers in its weekly tanker market report. The heavy crude market is already incredibly tight and production cuts come at a time when demand for heavy grades is rising, the report notes.
According to EIA’s January Short-Term Energy Outlook, the predictions are that global benchmark Brent crude oil is to average $61 per barrel in 2019 and $65/barrel in 2020, experiencing an increase from the end of 2018. Yet, it will remain lower than the 2018 average of $71/b US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices were $8/b lower than Brent prices in December 2018, and EIA expects this difference to narrow to $4/b in the Q4 of 2019 and during 2020.
Russia is slowly decreasing its oil production following the OPEC+ deal and is on track to reach approximately the fifth of the way towards its pledged cut on January, according to Bloomberg. Russian data reveal that the nation’s output has already decreased by more than 30.000 barrels per day, similar to October’s levels, asreported by Alexander Novak, Energy Minister.
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