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The oil market isn’t as weak as it appears

Berry Group / Energy  / The oil market isn’t as weak as it appears

The oil market isn’t as weak as it appears

By Dr. Cyril Widdershoven – Berry Commodities – Global Head of Strategy & Risk

A slight price recovery on Friday couldn?t save what turned out to be the worst week this year for oil markets.

Brent is currently hovering around $68 per barrel having fallen from a $74 high earlier this year. Increased worries about a possible oil slump, due to the perceived negative impact of the escalating US trade war with China, and unexpected higher stock volumes, have scared mainstream analysts it seems. It seems that the oil market is not being ruled by bulls or bears, but is being sheepish instead.

US crude inventories, reportedly at their highest level since July 2017, are having an oversized impact on today?s oil market. At the same time, growing fears about the US-China trade war have caused analysts to brace for a slowdown in crude oil demand in the coming months. Both these factors, the trade war and US inventories, are not as serious as the media is making them out to be. The ongoing US-China trade wars is unlikely to become a full showdown. Neither party is willing to risk a full-blown crisis as the results will hit both severely. When looking at China?s options, Beijing will not be willing to risks a situation in which, for the first time ever, the Politburo has to acknowledge that their 5-year planning is not reaching its set growth targets. Beijing will do whatever it takes to get the figures adjusted to quell a possible economic crisis.

At the same time, Trump will not want to risk lower economic growth figures or even a full-scale slump as it would negatively impact his reelection prospects. Don?t forget, Trump?s presidency is almost in its last year, the coming 12-18 months will be targeting positive economic and financial figures to support reelection. The fall-out of a China trade war will mostly hit the US states that are full of Trump supporters.

When looking at crude oil markets, the situation on the ground is a clearly pro-OPEC. The speculation about a possible end to the OPEC+ production cuts is largely unfounded. Saudi Arabia, Russia and several other major producers are content with the current situation. At the same time, US storage volumes are unrepresentative, as increases are supported by the lack of demand for US shale oil. As some have clearly stated, there is a crisis looming due to crude quality issues. With outages in Venezuela and Iran and instability in Iraq, Sudan, Libya and Algeria, volumes of a certain quality of oil have fallen dramatically. US shale oil should not be considered a savior or swing producer, as it cannot fill the gaps in the current market. Furthermore, Iranian volumes are no longer attractive to its former clients. China, India and even Turkey, are reducing their intake of Iranian crude. Some of crude from Tehran will still enter the market, but not enough.

By Dr. Cyril Widdershoven for Oilprice.com

 

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