OPEC squeezes oil output to 4-year low, Russia compliance low

14 Février, 2019, 10:52 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • The Opec+ cuts are taking effect and US data is starting to reflect these changing market conditions. — Reuters  file

Optimism that a trade deal could be reached between the United States and China was boosted when U.S. President Donald Trump said talks were going "very well". Since January 1, an OPEC-led group has been cutting at least 1.2 million barrels per day from production in an effort to trim the global supply and stabilize prices.

On the broader picture, the ongoing OPEC+ agreement to curb oil production, U.S. sanctions against Venezuelan and Iranian oil exports and the so-called "Saudi Put" should keep a firm floor under crude prices.

Meanwhile, Barclays bank added, "Oil production is rapidly falling and companies that normally resell Venezuelan crude have not found ways to mitigate the effect of the US sanctions".

Growing U.S. supply and a potential economic slowdown this year could cap oil markets.

"In quantity terms, in 2019, the United States alone will grow its crude oil production by more than Venezuela's current output". Analysts were looking for a build of about 2.300 million barrels.

It would be recalled that OPEC and 10 non-OPEC countries agreed in December to cut oil production by 1.2 million bpd effective from January for an initial period of six months to shore up what many expected to be weakening market fundamentals ahead. "We're getting some support added by the report despite the obvious demand drop".

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The U.S. Treasury's guidance, which appears deliberately unclear, has left many third-country buyers uncertain about whether they can do business with PDVSA without also falling foul of sanctions.

The price has largely plateaued since then, in spite of the subsequent imposition of USA sanctions.

US bank Morgan Stanley said the surge in USA crude oil production, which tends to be light in quality and which rose by more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) past year to a record 11.9 million bpd, had resulted in overproduction of gasoline.

Oil descended into a bear market in November, a swift drop from four-year highs seen in October, as traders grew anxious over strengthening USA production and an outlook for softer global fuel demand.

Mid-distillates are especially prized at the moment with the forthcoming introduction of new bunker fuel regulations by the International Maritime Organization from the start of 2020.

If refiners are unable to source enough heavy and extra heavy crude, they will buy the next best alternative, in this case medium density crudes, so the impact of sanctions is rippling through the entire oil market.

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