Monday, February 29, 2016

Fitch joins Moody’s in cutting oil price estimates

Barely a month after Moody’s drastically revised its oil price assumptions, rival Fitch Ratings followed suit last week. Writing to clients, Fitch said its new base case is for Brent and WTI oil prices to average $35 per barrel in 2016. 

It had previously expected oil to average $45 per barrel. However, Fitch’s long-term base case price assumptions remain unchanged at $65 per barrel. The ratings agency said its drastic revision was down to a combination of stock build-up over the mild winter, higher-than-expected OPEC production in January and increasing evidence that global economic growth for the year will be weaker than previously forecast.

“This suggests there will still be a supply surplus in the second half of 2016, albeit reduced from current levels, and that markets will probably only reach a balance in 2017. Even then, very high inventories will limit price increases,” Fitch added.

In light of recent volatility, Fitch’s reworking of price assumptions is hardly a surprise, and on Jan 21st rival Moody’s had done likewise. The latter lowered its 2016 price estimate for both Brent WTI to $33 per barrel.

In Moody’s case, for Brent, it marked a $10 per barrel reduction from the rating agency's previous estimate, and for WTI, a $7 reduction. It currently expects both benchmark prices to rise by $5 per barrel on average in 2017 and 2018. The move also represented Moody’s second revision is as many months, having already slashed estimates back in December.

Terry Marshall, Senior Vice President at the ratings agency, said, "OPEC countries continue high levels of production in the battle for market share, contributing to the current oil glut despite moderate consumption growth by key consumers such as China, India and the US.

“In addition, we expect the rise in Iranian oil output this year to offset or exceed production cuts in the US."

So more cheer for the bears it seems, but little else. Volatility is likely to persist until June, but for the record, the Oilholic expects a very gradual climb in the oil price towards $50 per barrel from then onwards, as one wrote in a recent Forbes column. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2016. Photo: Oil production facility © Cairn Energy

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