Oil Prices Decline Again

Oil & Gas

(Bloomberg) — Oil pulled back from recent multi-year highs after technical indicators showed crude rallied too far too fast.

Futures in New York fell toward $64 a barrel on Tuesday in choppy trading, following a surge Monday to the highest intraday level since 2018 after an attack on a major Saudi Arabian crude export terminal. Prices rose above the Upper Bollinger band during the last three sessions, signaling a pullback was in store. Meanwhile, the U.S. government expects domestic crude production to rise drillers take advantage of oil’s price recovery.

Crude’s rally “just kept pushing and pushing and pushing,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda Corp. “Then we had the OPEC surprise and the Saudi attack, triggering the last key surge where now a lot of the recovery and demand expectations due to the vaccines’ success has already been priced in.”

While a technical dip was expected in the short-term, OPEC+ output cuts are seen holding the market over until demand comes back in force. Standard Chartered Plc said the producer group’s supply restraint will likely even overtighten the market. Still, concerns remain over how much higher prices can go without destroying demand. India would prefer oil to be on the lower side in the range of $50 a barrel to $60 a barrel, according to Mukesh Kumar Surana, chairman of Hindustan Petroleum Corp., one of the nation’s biggest refiners.

Further price gains from output cuts “have pretty much run their course,” Doug King, RCMA Group Chairman, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “You can tighten as much as you want, but if you destroy the refining margins and product demand isn’t there, then effectively you don’t really get much further up the chain.”

In the U.S., crude inventories are expected to rise for a third straight week, according to a Bloomberg survey. Gasoline and distillate stockpiles are seen decreasing. The industry-funded American Petroleum Institute will report its supply tally later Tuesday ahead of U.S. government data on Wednesday.

Prices

  • West Texas Intermediate for April delivery fell $1.04 to settle at $64.01 a barrel
  • Brent for May settlement declined 72 cents to end the session at $67.52 a barrel

In the U.S. shale patch, Chevron Corp. plans to ramp up investment in the Permian Basin through 2025, reversing the pandemic-driven production decline, the company said in an investor presentation Tuesday. In its monthly short-term outlook report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration raised its domestic oil production forecast to average over 12 million barrels a day in 2022, growing faster than previously expected.

The EIA outlook also said crude prices should decline next year, with “global oil supply surpassing oil demand during the second half of 2021.” While the agency raised its Brent price forecast to $58.51 a barrel in 2022, it sees the benchmark falling from a 2021 average of $60.67 a barrel.

“The concern is, the more OPEC maintains these cuts and allows prices to rise, at what point is that problematic?” said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “Eventually, we’ve seen that gives rise to shale producers coming back on some time horizon.”

Meanwhile, heavy maintenance work on North Sea oil fields is helping erode the flow of crude to Asia from some suppliers in the Atlantic basin as a key price spread between the two region balloons. North Sea supplies will be significantly constrained throughout the second quarter by routine maintenance programs.

Other oil-market news:

  • With too many vessels to haul fuel, losses for supertankers on a benchmark Middle East-to-China route deepened to the weakest earnings since at least 2017.
  • The Biden administration is beginning its comprehensive study of whether — and how — the U.S. government sells drilling rights on federal land and waters, a review that could chart the future of U.S. energy development for decades to come.
  • Libya’s state energy company said it would increase oil production and vowed to remain politically neutral as a unity government seeks to stabilize the war-torn OPEC member.
  • In just over two months, North Sea dealmaking has surpassed last year’s total as companies look to make the most of crude’s emergence for the pandemic-induced slump.

–With assistance from Alex Longley, Sheela Tobben, Michael Tobin and Alix Steel.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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