Oil hits 2019 high as OPEC+ re-commits to cuts in the near term

By Ben Foldy on 3/18/2019

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- Oil closed at its highest yet this year as OPEC and its partners committed to continuing production cuts until at least June, when they will meet to discuss an extension.

Futures advanced 1 percent in New York on Monday. The group known as OPEC+ closed a weekend meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, having reaffirmed an intent to continue output cuts. At the same time, production in Venezuela and Iran is expected to continue declining.

The short-term assurances of continued cuts are likely to keep U.S. crude trading between $50/bbl and $65/bbl for the next few months amid a “fairly balanced” market, said Kyle Cooper, a consultant at Ion Energy Group.

“I think OPEC is probably OK with that and I think the markets and consumers are probably comfortable with that,” said Cooper.

Oil in New York has rallied 30% this year as OPEC+ worked to offset a glut fed by surging U.S. shale production. Meanwhile, the fears of a global slowdown that sent oil prices crashing at the end of 2018 have receded and steady growth in equities markets has allayed concerns of a demand drop.

“We keep hearing talk of a slowdown here, there and everywhere but oil demand globally hasn’t really slowed down all that much,” said Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst at Price Futures Group Inc. in Chicago. “We might never get the big demand drop everyone is talking about and it really hasn’t happened yet.”

West Texas Intermediate for April delivery gained 57 cents to settle at $59.09/bbl in New York.

Brent for May settlement gained 38 cents to end the session at $67.54 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark crude settled at an $8.16 premium to WTI for the same month.

As OPEC+’s Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee met Monday, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the group remains committed to curbing output during the supply glut. There was less evident support for extending the curbs from Russia and Iraq, the coalition’s other two biggest suppliers. They suggested the group should monitor the market until May or June before making a decision, as developments in Venezuela and Iran may impact supply .

Other OPEC News: OPEC+ affirms commitment to oil cuts, defers decision to extend

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