Saturday, July 30, 2016

Those rapidly sliding oil demand projections!

It’s been another mad month for the Oilholic and might one add for the oil markets as well. At the conclusion of the OPEC summit in Vienna back in June, there was a sense that a slow, but sure road to rebalancing somewhere between March and June 2017 would be the order of the day.

Then Brexit happened, Italian banks crisis escalated, Chinese refiners driven on by cheaper crude imports ensured a gasoline glut hit the Asia Pacific market, while US refiners went on a binge largely off cheap Iraqi imports.

Donald Trump and his protectionist stance remains fighting fit as a painfully long US presidential election campaign finally enters its final phase. China’s economy remains lethargic, as do global central banks when it comes to monetary stimulus – Bank of Japan, US Federal Reserve, Bank of England – take your pick.

Put it all together and factor in the return of barrels, taken out earlier this year, from Canada to Nigeria, Venezuela to Colombia, and you come up with nothing other than a bearish market as July draws to a close. In fact, oil benchmarks are down 20% since the OPEC summit, and with good reason – neither is demand going anywhere, nor is oversupply dissipating.

However, it’s demand woes that are knocking market sentiment more at the moment. OPEC and IEA continue to maintain global oil demand growth projections for 2016 in the region of 1.2-1.4 million barrels per day (bpd). Given the current set of market circumstances, yours truly is not at peace with the said range. City analysts aren't either.

Barclays' commodities research team reckons demand is likely to be in the region of 1.1 million bpd, several others put it around 1 million bpd, but last week Morgan Stanley said even its conservative forecast of 800,000 bpd might not be met.

In a note to clients on July 24, the investment bank’s analysts subsequently wrote: "We are cutting our forecast for global refinery demand for crude oil (runs) to 625,000 bpd from 800,000 bpd on expected run cuts, with downside risk to these low numbers.

"We also recently lowered our third quarter average Brent price forecast from $50 per barrel to $45, and see more downside risk."

In fact, downside risk is likely to become the order of the day, week and month. As the Oilholic said on TipTV, there is little out there to fire-up demand. Finally, while the mad month ensured the Oilholic didn’t blog here as frequently as he’d like, here are some of one’s market quips in IBTimes UK and Forbes over the last few weeks. 

Here is one’s take on demand fears, and last but not the least – Russia upping its oil production ante. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it crude! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2016. Photo: Abandoned petrol station in Preston, Connecticut, USA © Todd Gipstein / National Geographic.