Hello, dear colleagues.
Despite the New Year holidays, the most important events in the financial markets occur almost every day. It would seem that there is nothing that could shock a trader who is exhausted by the continuous flow of news, but the markets are always ready to give us an unexpected surprise. In this sense, oil has always been one of the most unpredictable assets. Moreover, it is so unpredictable that, as a rule, analytical institutions engaged in oil market research adjust their forecasts almost monthly, and it is good if they are slightly wrong, but more often they generally fall into the sky.
Last week's OPEC meeting was supposed to be a normal meeting, but something happened that could not have been expected. Saudi Arabia decided to voluntarily reduce its production by 1 million barrels per day, which caused the #CL oil price to soar to the $54 level, and now we face questions: how long will the positive dynamics continue and will the price of WTI oil reach the level of $55 and stay there for a long time? The Brent grade of oil is interesting, the price of which is about $5 higher than the price of WTI grade, but in general, the analysis for both grades of oil is similar. Therefore, in this article I will consider the North American grade, but the conclusions drawn will be valid for the North Sea grade of oil.
The main source of data for me has long been the US Energy Information Agency (US EIA), which, on Wednesday, January 13, published its next short-term forecast, where interesting conclusions are made:
The EIA predicts that spot prices for Brent crude oil will average $53 per barrel in 2021 and 2022, compared with an average of $42 per barrel in 2020.
The EIA estimates that global oil and liquid fuel consumption averaged 92.2 million barrels per day during 2020, down 9.0 million barrels per day from 2019. The EIA expects global liquid fuel consumption to grow by 5.6 million barrels per day in 2021 and another 3.3 million barrels per day in 2022.
The EIA predicts that crude oil production in the Organization of the Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2021 will average 27.2 million barrels per day, compared with 25.6 million barrels per day last year. The projected growth reflects OPEC's announced increase in volumes and continued production growth in Libya.
At the same time, take note that a month earlier, in December 2020, the Agency's forecast was much less optimistic. For example, the spot price of WTI crude oil in the first quarter of this year was assumed at $44.50. In the current forecast for the first quarter, the spot price of WTI is assumed to be at $52.69. A similar situation is predicted for the Brent brand, where the base level of average prices increased from $47 to $55.69 dollars per barrel.
This was partly due to a reduction in the forecast of global oil production in the first and fourth quarters of 2021, to levels of 93.66 and 99.11 million barrels per day. According to the EIA, daily oil production will average 97.24 million barrels this year. While global consumption, despite the fact that its forecast was also lowered, will be 97.78 million barrels per day. Thus, thanks to the OPEC+ deal and the voluntary reduction of production by Saudi Arabia, there will be a shortage in the oil market throughout the current year.
Figure 1: The balance of supply and demand in the oil market.
Yes, you heard right, there is a deficit in the oil market, not a surplus. The oil deficit will be felt especially significantly in the first quarter of this year, when the market will lack 2.27 million barrels of oil every day (Fig. 1). Therefore, it can be assumed that from a fundamental point of view, despite the blockages associated with COVID-19, oil can still reach $55 for WTI grade and $60 for Brent grade, but whether the price will settle at these values raises some questions.
The January forecast from the US EIA assumes that spot prices for WTI grades in the first half of the year will be at an average of $51, which is slightly below the current price of $52.65 per barrel (Fig. 2). In the second half of the year, prices may drop even lower, which implies an average price of WTI in 2021 at $ 49.75.
Figure 2: US EIA WTI Forecast
Thus, taking into account the current dynamics of oil and the forecasts of the US EIA, oil now looks somewhat overbought, which means that it can be assumed that the oil price will return to average values, which for the WTI grade indicates a decrease to the $50 level, and for the Brent grade, a return to the $55 level. However, take note that in the short-term dynamics, the oil price may continue to rise along the trend, which means that, without sufficient technical and fundamental grounds, traders should not count on a quick return to the average values and open positions against the existing upward trend. Be cautious and careful, follow the money management rules.
*The market analysis posted here is meant to increase your awareness, but not to give instructions to make a trade.
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