Oil rises on surprise draw in US stocks, prospect of OPEC action

A pumpjack in Signal Hill, California. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2019

Oil rises on surprise draw in US stocks, prospect of OPEC action

  • OPEC, allies to mull deeper production cuts
  • Weak demand growth outlook weighs on sentiment

HOUSTON: Oil rose above $60 a barrel on Wednesday after government data showed a surprise draw in US crude stocks and as the prospect of deeper output cuts by OPEC and its allies offered support.
US crude stocks fell by 1.7 million barrels last week as refineries hiked crude runs by 429,000 barrels per day (bpd), the Energy Information Administration said. Analysts had expected an increase in US inventories of 2.2 million barrels.
Brent crude futures were up 44 cents, or 0.74%, to $60.14 a barrel at 10:13 a.m. CDT . West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for December delivery were up 48 cents, or 0.88%, to $54.96 per barrel.
Oil prices had fallen earlier in the session on data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showing US stocks rising more than analysts had expected, by 4.5 million barrels to 437 million barrels.
The US Energy Department’s report “has put some buyers in the market, but it will be interesting to see if it lasts. While this will distract from demand destruction, the market will eventually come back to it,” said Gene McGillian, vice president of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
The draw in US oil stocks appeared to have been caused by temporary market factors including higher refinery runs, rather than a fundamental firming of oil demand, and investors are still concerned about the global economy following reports of slowing growth in China and Europe, McGillian added.
A larger-than-expected decline in US gasoline stocks also supported prices, analysts said. Gasoline stocks fell by 3.1 million barrels, compared with analysts expectations of a 2.3 million-barrel drop.
“The continued decline in product inventory makes for a bullish report,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC in New York. “Gasoline numbers are summer-like; that’s endemic of a good economy (in the US) and people driving to work.”
Also helping to underpin prices, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is mulling whether to deepen production cuts amid concerns of weak demand growth next year.
OPEC and other oil producers including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, have pledged to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) until March 2020. OPEC and other non-members are scheduled to meet again Dec. 5-6.
“With the headwinds of strong US producer hedging and high freight rates fading, we expect stronger Brent timespreads and higher prices in coming weeks, with upside risk to our year-end $62 per barrel forecast,” Goldman Sachs said in a note.
The investment bank expects Brent prices to continue trading around $60 a barrel in 2020.


Oil giants’ production cuts come to 1m bpd as they post massive write-downs

Updated 10 August 2020

Oil giants’ production cuts come to 1m bpd as they post massive write-downs

  • Crude output worldwide dropped sharply after the market crashed in April

LONDON: The world’s five largest oil companies collectively cut the value of their assets by nearly $50 billion in the second quarter, and slashed production rates as the coronavirus pandemic caused a drastic fall in fuel prices and demand.

The dramatic reductions in asset valuations and decline in output show the depth of the pain in the second quarter. Fuel demand at one point was down by more than 30 percent worldwide.

Several executives said they took massive write-downs because they expect demand to remain impaired for several more quarters as people travel less and use less fuel due to the ongoing global pandemic.

Of those five companies, only Exxon Mobil did not book sizeable impairments. But an ongoing reevaluation of its plans could lead to a “significant portion” of its assets being impaired, it reported, and signal the elimination of 20 percent or 4.4 billion barrels of its oil and gas reserves.

By contrast, BP took a $17 billion hit. It said it plans to recenter its spending in coming years around renewables and less on oil and natural gas.

Weak demand means oil producers must revisit business plans, said Lee Maginniss, managing director at consultants Alarez & Marsal. He said the goal should be to pump only what generates cash in excess of overhead costs.

“It’s low-cost production mode through the end of 2021 for sure, and to 2022 to the extent there are new development plans being contemplated,” Maginniss said.

London-based BP has previously said it plans to cut its overall output by roughly 1 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOEPD) by the end of 2030 from its current 3.6 million BOEPD.

Of the five, Exxon is the largest producer, with daily output of 3.64 million BOEPD, but its production dropped 408,000 BOEPD between the first and second quarters. The five majors, which include Chevron Corp, Royal Dutch Shell and Total SA, also cut capital expenditures by a combined $25 billion between the quarters.

Crude output worldwide dropped sharply after the market crashed in April. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to cut output by nearly 10 million barrels a day to balance out supply and demand in the market.