ibusinesslines.com March 24, 2017

What's Affecting Oil Prices This Week?

21 March 2017, 01:52 | Kelvin Horton

Halfway into this year's oil supply cut, Asia remains awash with fuel

Crude resumes slide as trading begins in Asia Monday – Vandana Hari

The main reason for this appears to be some oil-related data released by the IEA (International Energy Agency) that has revealed that, despite some tough metrics for January and February of this year, stocks are still slated to fall and the oil rebalancing process is still in play.

"With the Baker Hughes rig count rising for a ninth straight week, investors will be hoping that Opec this week will reiterate commitment to production cuts, perhaps going so far as to begin talking up chances of further cuts in June".

U.S. oil prices dipped below US$50 (RM221) a barrel for the first time in 2017 this month as near-record American stockpiles and rising output weighed on the production reductions by Opec and its allies. Money managers cut net-long positions on oil by a record.

"We don't think a renewed crash in oil prices would have as large an effect on the world economy as it did in 2015-16", said Capital Economic's economist Simon MacAdam.

The average daily production in March was 1.51 mln tonnes versus 1.532 mln tonnes last October [a factor of 7.33 was used for conversion into barrels - TASS].

Global benchmark Brent crude fell as low as $51.01 a barrel this morning while West Texas Intermediate slipped to $47.84. OPEC's next meeting is billed to hold on May 25 in Vienna, Austria and analysts are already speculating on the possibility that OPEC will deepen its cuts above 1.2 million barrels or extend the cuts beyond six months. "This spread isn't sustainable".

In the U.S., drillers added 14 oil rigs in the week to March 17, according to Baker Hughes. They have added 106 machines to fields this year.

"We're in a very precarious position ahead of what should be an important report this Wednesday", Yawger said.

"The final communiqué conspicuously dropped a pledge to resist protectionism, reportedly at the behest of new U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin", wrote Ilya Spivak, a senior strategist at DailyFX, in a note.

EIA noted that gasoline supplies fell by 3.1 million barrels, and distillate stockpiles dropped 4.2 million barrels last week, too.

Libya's Es Sider and Ras Lanuf ports will restart shipping oil in one week to 10 days, Jadalla Alaokali, a board member at National Oil Corp., said by phone.

The refusal by Saudi and Russian energy ministers as well as the OPEC secretary-general to commit to an extension of the OPEC/non-OPEC cuts, a big question for the market as the producers' output curb agreements close in on the half-way mark, continues to cast a shadow over the prospects of a speedy draining of oil inventories and an accelerated rebalancing of the market. Opec producers have implemented 100 per cent of the agreed cuts as per latest data with Opec figures reflecting a cut higher than expected. The much faster return of US shale production and soft fuel prices have stimulated discussions within OPEC to extend the six-month deal until the end of the year.

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