Crude price gains continue on signs of scarce oil supply worldwide

By Elizabeth Low on 2/25/2021
Equinor crew celebrates first oil from Johan Sverdrup, offshore Norway
Equinor crew celebrates first oil from Johan Sverdrup, offshore Norway

(Bloomberg) --Oil extended gains from its highest close in more than a year on a slump in U.S. oil inventories and a broader lift to the reflation trade taking place across global markets.

Futures in New York rose near $63 a barrel. Inventories of U.S. oil have fallen by 40 million barrels over the last three weeks, with cold weather demand for heating fuels offsetting a rise in gasoline and crude stockpiles.

The futures curve is continuing to indicate tightness. The market is in a backwardation of almost $6 a barrel for the next 12 months, a structure that indicates scarce supplies. There have even been tentative mentions of crude hitting $100 a barrel again in the longer term.

Oil is set for a fourth monthly gain after a pledge by Saudi Arabia to deepen output cuts accelerated a rally triggered by Covid-19 vaccine breakthroughs. While there’s been a raft of bullish calls on the outlook recently, the market is facing a possible supply increase in April from OPEC+, which meets next week to discuss its strategy with key members again differing on the way forward.

Oil “continues to benefit, just like copper, from expectations that supply will be kept tight while demand continues to recover,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodities strategy at Saxo Bank. “The question remains how much is speculative and how much is real demand driving the price higher at this stage.”

Prices:

  • West Texas Intermediate gained 0.3% to $63.38 a barrel at 10:47 a.m. London time
  • Brent for April settlement added 0.3% to $67.22

Shale explorers reported almost 6 million barrels of combined oil-output losses during the freeze last week. Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Pioneer Natural Resources Co., two of the largest producers in the Permian Basin, alone had a combined loss of about 3.8 million barrels, according to Bloomberg News calculations based on fourth-quarter earnings reports and calls.

That will focus the attention of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies before they meet next week. The talks are likely to lead to a rollback of Saudi Arabia’s unilateral output cut, according to Deutsche Bank.

Other oil-market news:

  • Exxon Mobil Corp. erased almost every drop of oil-sands crude from its books in a sweeping revision of worldwide reserves to depths never before seen in the company’s modern history.
  • A planned overhaul of how the world’s most important benchmark crude price is calculated has caused a surge in trading of swaps used to hedge North Sea oil prices.
  • The world’s oil giants have lost their leadership of U.K. North Sea production, usurped by small drillers and private equity firms that most people have never heard of.

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