Thursday, June 30, 2016

Crude markets post Brexit: Keep calm & carry on

Right after the OPEC summit, we went into the home strait of the UK’s June 23rd referendum on its membership of the European Union, which has resulted in a Brexit or to put it more blandly – Britain’s exit from the EU.
 
It drained the life out of talking about anything else, or writing about anything else or blogging about anything else. So please accept the Oilholic’s apologies for not responding on wider ‘crude’ affairs via this blog for much of the month.
 
The deed is done; the British public voted 52% to 48% in favour of exiting the European Union, and to quote one departing EU official – "what has been done cannot be undone." The development followed a predictable market kerfuffle, with some comparing or at least attempting to compare its aftermath to the Lehman Brothers collapse. As the Oilholic said on a recent broadcast, serious though it might be, it is not quite on that scale for the oil markets.
 
Oil will continue to lurk around the $50 per barrel level and struggle to cap that over the next six months, and much of it would have little direct connection to the Brexit vote. On the eve of the vote, yours truly looked at FX, oil and gold plays via a Forbes column, and did an oil market impact assessment or a crude Brexit post mortem exactly a week on from the outcome of the result.
 
Brexit’s only contribution has been to add to the prevailing market sentiment that oil demand growth will not quite fire up. Most demand growth projections, for instance those of the IEA and OPEC, are in the 1.2 – 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) range. The Oilholic suspects come the end of the year, even the lower end of that range might not be matched.
 
Brexit and the uncertainty in Europe would have some impact, but much of the oil market is reliant on emerging market demand and its direction should be the primary cause for concern. Europe accounts for only 15% of global trade. The direction of global trade and manufacturing is eastwards, by default so is the direction of the oil market.
 
Furthermore, there is still plenty of oil around according to physical traders. What was one of the biggest oil gluts of all time last year, will not be resolved in a matter of months. The Oilholic has always maintained that the oil market will not rebalance until much later into 2017 and the oil price will stick around $50 level until December.
 
Given that context, Brexit is just another crude problem, but not the only problem. Keep calm and carry on!
 
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© Gaurav Sharma 2016. Photo: Oil rig in South Asia © Cairn Energy.

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