Quicktake: Why are oil prices plunging?

Posted November 16, 2018

Yawger noted that the potential pullback in Saudi output has in part already been made up by the sharp bump in US production, which reached 11.6 million bpd in the most recent week, a new record.

Brent crude fell by 4.2 per cent to $67.15, touching its lowest since March.

OPEC revised downward the forecast on oil production growth in 2018 by 40,000 barrels per day to 1.5 mln barrels per day and by 70,000 barrels to 1.29 mln barrels a day in 2019.

The rebound of oil prices ended a streak of fall with oil prices for 12 consecutive sessions.

"This tweet certainly did not help prices", ING commodities strategist Warren Patterson said.

OPEC and its partners are discussing a proposal to cut oil output by up to 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) for 2019, three sources familiar with the issue said, to avert an oversupply that would weaken prices. America's increasing inventories suggests "the nation's crude exports could become more active, resulting in excess global supplies".

Russian Federation aims to continue cooperation with OPEC to stabilize the oil market, with existing efforts having shown "positive results", Putin said. They partially unwound their reduction in June after pressure from Trump, who wanted lower oil prices.

"It is becoming clearer that as we move closer towards 2019, the market will see a sizeable surplus at least over the first half of 2019", ING said.

"OPEC lowered its demand forecast, and that gives them cover for cutting production", said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

He urged the Federal Government to put in place measures to improve oil production, adding that OPEC will soon exempt Nigeria from crude oil cut imposed on the country and Libya since previous year.

Even though the analytical community believes the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) bid to reduce crude production (and reverse oil's recent price slump) is a fait accompli, mixed messages from various parties suggest it may be an struggle for the cartel to gain approval for the scheme when it convenes in Vienna next month.

"These massive crude oil builds that we've seen week after week in the USA, sucked all of the geopolitical risk out of the crude oil price", said Rob Thummel, managing director at Tortoise, which manages $16 billion in energy-related assets.

Tuesday's seven-percent drop was due to ongoing worries about weakening global demand and oversupply.

He said emerging concerns about weak global demand, rising USA production, and speculators rapidly bailing out of long positions were primary factors for the drop. USA crude inventories probably rose 3.2 million barrels last week, according to the median estimate of analysts in a Bloomberg survey ahead of government data scheduled for release on Thursday.

The Opec+ alliance may cut its output by up to a million bpd next year, if needed, to balance the market, Saudi Oil Minister Khalid Al Falih said this week. He's kept at it even as prices have plunged, tweeting on November 12 that he hoped Saudi Arabia and OPEC wouldn't cut output.