Friday, 22 February, 2019

OPEC revises down forecasts for world oil demand growth

OPEC cuts & US sanctions against Iran and Venezuela boosting global crude prices Opec tightens its taps as global oil demand stalls
Orlando Vargas | 13 February, 2019, 21:40

As reported by The Financial Times, Saudi Arabia's energy minister Khalid al Falih went on to say that overseas expansion would become a critical part for the country.

"In quantity terms, in 2019, the US alone will grow its crude oil production by more than Venezuela's current output".

US sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil company are tightening the global oil market and sending refiners around the world scrambling to find replacements for the country's diesel-rich heavy and extra heavy crudes. That is still slightly more than the demand OPEC expects for its crude on average in 2019.

Given the six- to eight-week sailing time between the Latin American country and destinations in Asia, it's likely that the pinch of US sanctions will only be felt in April, given that all February cargoes and most of March's are already en route.

Despite these moves, on a macro level, the global oil market remains well-supplied.

The "call" on OPEC crude is now forecast at 30.7 million bpd in 2019, down from the IEA's last estimate of 31.6 million bpd in January.

Opec members vowed to cut 800,000 barrels a day of that amount, so January's figures fell just 3,000 barrels short of that commitment.

The cartel made the pledge past year alongside major oil producing countries outside the cartel, including Russian Federation, to safeguard oil prices against a global economic slowdown.

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Although the USA reimposed oil export sanctions last November, it gave a six-month exemption or wavier to eight friendly countries: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece to continue buying a restricted quantity of Iranian oil, but it is uncertain if Washington will extend the waivers beyond May.

OPEC countries performed the OPEC+ oil production limiting agreement by 86% only as of the end of January, as followed from the monthly report released by OPEC earlier on Tuesday. Even 1.5 million barrels puts Iran's economy in a bind and anything less than that will make the budget hard to manage. "But the news about Saudi Arabia is pretty significant, so the market is reacting to that more so than anything else right now".

"Total supply is now forecast to average 64.34 mb/d".

Numerous region's refineries are new and are optimised to process heavy and sour crudes.

Oil extended a rally on Tuesday above $63 a barrel.

Mid-distillates are especially prized at the moment with the forthcoming introduction of new bunker fuel regulations by the International Maritime Organization from the start of 2020. "This is because, in terms of crude oil quantity, markets may be able to adjust after initial logistical dislocations", the group added.

"The imposition of sanctions by the United States against Venezuela's state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) is another reminder of the huge importance for oil of political events", the IEA said.

John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst.

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