Monday, June 15, 2020

End of 'voluntary' Saudi cuts, no Covid-19 end in sight

In the lead up to the OPEC+ summit on June 6, oil benchmarks continued to rise toward $40 per barrel and subsequently went beyond. Brent even capped $42 levels briefly as OPEC+ decided to predictably rollover ongoing crude production cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) - scheduled to end on July 1 - by another month. 

All of it was accompanied by the common din of crude oil demand returning, underpinned by hopes of China reverting to its average importation rate of around 14 million bpd by end-2020. Such an assumption is fanciful in the Oilholic’s humble opinion, as a semblance of normalcy, especially in the aviation sector, is unlikely before Q1 2021. But even that assumption was further punctured by Saudi Arabia withdrawing its additional 'voluntary' cuts of 1 million bpd in June, atop what they were already cutting as part of the OPEC+ agreement. 

To quote Saudi Oil Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman: "The voluntary cut has served its purpose and we are moving on. A good chunk of what we will increase in July will go into domestic consumption."

Be that as it may be, that's bearish joy for those with short positions who can now also count on rising sentiment in favour of a second wave of the Coronavirus or Covid-19 hammering crude oil demand, with rising cases in the U.S. and as well as a fresh outbreak in China. So, oil futures have duly retreated from $40 levels.

However, here's what this blogger doesn't get – how can it be all about a possible second wave, when the initial pandemic is far from over! Just look at the official and anecdotal data coming out of India and Brazil. 

And while European pandemic hotspots might be cooling down, the initial threat is far from over. A crude market recovery remains a long, long way off. The Oilholic reckons it will be Q1 2021 before we get into a proper recovery mode and can think of a nuanced reversal in market fortunes. By that argument near-term volatility is likely be in $30-40 range, unless Covid-19 situation escalates. To assume the only way is up from $40 is pretty daft. That's all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it crude!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2020. Image by Omni Matryx from Pixabay

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