Oil Prices Dropped – Oversupply/Decline Expectation of Production Freeze
Oil prices had dropped on Thursday while market concentrated on oversupply and declining expectation of a production freeze. Global crude oil benchmark Brent had been down by 10 cents at $48.95 per barrel by 1230 GMT after closing down at 1.8% on Wednesday and U.S. light crude oil fell by 15 cents at $46.62 a barrel, after slipping by 2.8% on Wednesday.
In the first three weeks of August the oil prices had increased over 20% on talk of a probable deal by oil exporters to freeze production levels in an attempt to support prices. On September 26-28, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would be meeting on the side-lines of the International Energy Forum, with groups and consumers in Algeria.
There are rumours that the meeting would agree to some kind of output curbs when similar attempts for production freeze had failed in April. Expectations however of a deal have been restrained by the record of OPEC output where some analysts envisage the vision of voluntary restrictions. Senior oil analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt, Carsten Fritsch, states that speculators pressed the price up expecting an output freeze that is doubtful to take place and perceives downside risk if the expectations are being scaled back.
Effects Minimal on Physical Market
U.S. investment bank Jefferies approved informing clients recently that even if a freeze had been agreed, the effects would seem to be minimal on the physical market. It was mentioned in a report that they did not expect a production freeze, let alone a production cut from the OPEC meeting.
With the output reaching almost record levels from several of the top producers and the demand unsteady, there seems to be little vision to the end of the surplus which had pulled down the prices of crude from more than $100 per barrel in 2014 to their present sub-$50 stages.
High storage levels too seemed to be weighing on the market. Commercial crude oil stocks, in the United States had increased by 2.5 million barrels to 523.6 million barrels, higher by 16% than a year ago.
Stocks across the world, with regards to refined products also brimmed as the demand slowed while refinery output seemed to stay high. BNP Paribas has commented that `ample inventories were due to weaker demand in Asia though more generally were driven by excess supply generated by refiners maximising runs, notably to produce gasoline in the U.S.’.
China’s Indirect Demand of Oil Dropped
According to Reuters’ calculations utilising official data, the indirect demand of oil of China had dropped by 0.3% from a year earlier to 10.58 million barrels a day in July.
After Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih had informed Reuters that oil had paired some gains, he was of the belief that any substantial oil market intervention would be essential as the demand for crude would be picking up well around the world. He informs that there has been no discussion of substance still on the production levels of OPEC.
His comments strengthened the belief of several market participants which the September meeting would not resort to any production curbs particularly with the recent data portraying the Saudis and fellow OPEC member Iran were driving as much as they could.