Venezuela could tip oil market into deficit

Aaron Brown
March 16, 2018

Looking at crude oil prices today, both WTI and Brent are now trading sideways. From there, the rally stalled, and US shale began to take off again, pushing prices back down. But the market could tighten later in the year - demand picks up in the summer, Venezuela could post stronger declines as the year wears on, and inventories are expected to tighten. Most analysts have since followed in the IEA's footsteps and offered their own takes on how fast US shale would grow.

Oil prices held steady on Thursday, supported by healthy global demand but capped by the relentless rise in USA production that is undermining efforts led by producer cartel Opec to cut supplies and prop up markets.

Declines in Iranian and Venezuelan output due to sanctions could obviate the need for the rest of the OPEC/non-OPEC coalition to continue with their cuts.

Given the threat posed to bringing the crude market back into balance, Dhar says OPEC should focus on discouraging marginal U.S. producers from bringing on additional supply rather than capping its own output in the hope it will lead to a reduction in global inventory levels.

However, global oil de-stocking, considered one leading indicator for tanker demand, took a pause in January with global oil stocks rising 18 million barrels that month, the first such rise in since July 2017. This suggests that the OPEC cuts have had a huge impact. OPEC noted the 13.7-million-barrel increase in stocks in January, the first increase in five months. The surplus to the five-year averaged fell to 53 mb.

The looming change in USA diplomacy also complicates the future path of the OPEC- and Russia-led supply cut agreement.

While rivals are pumping more, OPEC´s production in February fell, according to the report.

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USA crude oil exports went to 37 destinations in 2017, compared with 27 destinations in 2016.

Another metric looks more promising: days of forward cover.

This raises the possibility of oil prices becoming more volatile until new supplies come on line, the IEA has cautioned. It should not be long before natural gas gives into spring and plummets as production will far outstrip demand. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was still up about 0.5 percent, but the S&P 500 edged lower.

Improved productivity and higher prices are contributing an increase in U.S. crude supply. Crude oil exports in 2017 were almost double the level of exports in 2016.

"If the United States kills the sanction waivers in mid-May it is hard to see OPEC and Russian Federation have a consensus to continue the supply restriction deal at the end of June", Olivier Jakob, an analyst with consultancy Petromatrix, said in a note Wednesday.

"This U.S. shale engine is not expected to run out of steam anytime soon, " said Stephen Brennock, analyst at brokerage PVM.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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