WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Strong demand, despite ample supply

The logo of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) sits outside its headquarters in Vienna, Austria. (REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo)
Updated 17 November 2019

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Strong demand, despite ample supply

Brent crude rose above $63 for the first time in more than seven weeks despite a bearish International Energy Agency (IEA) 2019 outlook that was published shortly before the monthly report from the IEA.

As usual, that highlighted weak demand and rising non-OPEC supply of some 2.3 million bpd in 2020, which is higher than the 1.8 million bpd this year.

The Paris-based organization opined that this would eat from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) market share and lead to a decline in OPEC’s crude oil output by around 1 million bpd.

However the IEA neglected to report that the US oil and gas rig count continued to fall for the 12th time in the past 13 weeks. 

According to Baker Hughes data, the total oil and gas rig count dropped to 806. 

Still, Brent crude still continued to hover in a narrow range most of the year trading sideways at around $60 per barrel both prior to and after the Sept.14 attacks on Saudi Aramco oil facilities. 

Year to date, Brent crude rose above $70 per barrel only for a short time during April and May and never made it above $80 per barrel, unlike last year.

Oil prices managed to edge higher despite the 2.2 million barrels build in US crude oil inventories, which makes it the 9th rise in US crude inventories for 8 weeks, that added a total of more than 40 million barrels of oil to US commercial inventories, as reported by the US EIA.

The IEA continues to push the thesis that higher US output will shrink the market share of OPEC members and Russia in total oil production. 

The timing of this conclusion is very questionable ahead of OPEC’s early December 2019 meeting, as it is premature to conclude that OPEC+ producers will face a major challenge in 2020 as demand for their crude is expected to fall sharply.

The IEA also irrationally emphasized that the market is currently well supplied not only from the US, but also from relatively new growth prospects like Brazil’s offshore fields, and even from older, mature Norwegian fields in the North Sea.

The IEA completely ignores the market’s strong fundamentals. For instance, China’s refining capacity remains historically high at 13.68 million bpd, jumped 9.2 percent, or around 1.15 million bpd year on year, according to data from the China National Bureau of Statistics. 

Consequently, China’s crude oil imports surged 1 percent year-on-year to hit a historical high of 10.76 million bpd in October. 

Higher demand is further expected as refineries in China will strive to maximize petrochemical yields ahead of the Christmas manufacturing season. 

Another market positive downplayed by the IEA is the strength in the physical sour crude oil market, representing tighter supply fundamentals.

Such factors suggest the market may be in better shape than the IEA suggests.

 

Faisal Faeq is an energy and oil marketing adviser. He was formerly with OPEC and Saudi Aramco.  Twitter:@faisalfaeq

 

 

 

 


RDIF chief praises Saudi reforms, says Bezos hacking story is ‘Fake News’

Updated 25 January 2020

RDIF chief praises Saudi reforms, says Bezos hacking story is ‘Fake News’

  • Kirill Dmitriev: Investors interested in business opportunities presented by tourism, improved position of women and youth demographic in Kingdom

DAVOS: One of Saudi Arabia’s biggest investment partners has reassured the global community about doing business in the Kingdom and ridiculed the Jeff Bezos accusations of phone hacking.
Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), told Arab News that stories about the apparent hacking of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’ phone did “not look plausible at all.
“We in Russia have some experience of phone hacking and this has all the signs of being fake news put about by enemies of the Kingdom.”
Dmitriev, whose organization has channeled investment into Saudi Arabia and partnered with the Kingdom on billions of dollars-worth of joint ventures, said the people he had spoken to in Davos remained in favor of the opportunities presented by Riyadh’s Vision 2030 strategy.
“Lots of people here are positive about the changes going on in Saudi Arabia, both from the West and Asia. They are interested in the business opportunities presented by tourism, the improved position of women and the youth demographic. I’m surprised the Western press does not give the full picture about what is happening in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
While in Switzerland, the RDIF announced a deal to invest in an online tourism platform that would benefit from increased Russian tourism, especially by members of Russia’s big Muslim minority, as well as other potential visitors to Saudi Arabia.
The Bezos allegations, which have been dismissed by Saudi officials as “absolutely silly,” were a hot topic of conversation at the WEF meeting.
A Western executive at a leading Gulf energy company, who declined to be named, said: “Phone hacking and cyber-security is a growing problem in the business world and is not confined to any one country.
“You have to take it all with a pinch of salt. If you’re going to do business in Saudi Arabia you will look at all the pros and cons, and this (the Bezos allegation) is not likely to deter you.”