March 1, 2021

WTI: Second wave of Covid instances to maintain oil costs in examine; WTI to hover round $36/barrel

Spike in new coronavirus instances within the US stoked fears of a second wave of the virus which in flip hit the crude oil demand, resulting in a fall in crude costs. Final week, the crude marked its first weekly fall since April. Going ahead, the mix of the US Fed forecasts and a second name for restrictions may set off one other plunge in crude oil costs.

Markets are as soon as once more nervous that pandemic could also be removed from over and this has introduced the rally to a halt. With about half a dozen US states reporting spikes in new infections, persons are driving much less and the demand for gasoline stays low.

Issues over future demand rose to the forefront after the US Federal Reserve mentioned US unemployment was set to achieve 9.3% on the finish of 2020 and mentioned it might take years to fall again, whereas the rates of interest have been anticipated to remain close to zero at the least by means of subsequent yr.

A reported spike in instances throughout half of the US weighs on sentiment, rekindling fears that potential slower easing of lockdowns may stall the oil demand restoration. Nashville, Tennessee, delayed its section three re-opening, whereas Houston, Texas, is seeing indicators of a second wave.

Markets noticed a steep sell-off after getting affirmation that OPEC+ would lengthen present cuts by means of till the tip of July because the markets bought disenchanted that OPEC+ has no technique to implement higher compliance from these members who’re lagging, together with reviews of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE to go for extra voluntary cuts of 1MMbbls/d will solely be for this month. This was sufficient to place downward strain in the marketplace.

In the meantime, an indicator of future provide, Baker Hughes reported that the variety of lively US rigs drilling for oil edged down by seven to 199 this week. The variety of oil rigs has seen a lot bigger weekly declines in latest weeks however have been falling on a weekly foundation since mid-March. The full lively US rig depend additionally fell by 5 to 279. In Venezuela, the nation with the world’s largest oil reserves has solely on Rig left, because of collapse in oil costs and the tightening US sanctions.


EIA knowledge confirmed that US business crude oil inventories grew by 5.72MMbbls, lower than what API reported. It was very completely different from the small inventory drawdown the market was anticipating. With this enhance, whole US business crude oil inventories stand at 538MMbbls, surpassing the degrees seen again in early 2017, and in reality the best stage going way back to 1982.

Whereas refiners elevated their run charges to the best ranges since early April, at 73.1%, it’s nonetheless properly under the 5-year common of round 94% for this stage of the yr. The principle purpose for enhance in imports was shipments booked throughout Saudi-Russia value warfare from March and April, when the dominion ramped up exports sending US costs to destructive -$40 a barrel. Refiners’ imports of Saudi barrels have averaged greater than 1.5 Mbpd for 3 consecutive weeks, which has not occurred since 2013.

Crude oil exports fell by 355Mbbls/d, to common 2.44MMbbls/d over the week, the bottom weekly export quantity since November. On the product entrance, gasoline inventories rose 866,000 barrels, in contrast with expectations of a 71,000-barrel rise. Distillate stockpiles elevated by 1.6 MB, exhibiting a sluggish restoration for product stocks.

Product provided, a proxy for demand, confirmed gasoline consumption rebounded to 7.9 Mbpd, nonetheless roughly 20% under year-ago interval, however an enchancment from latest weeks. Total gasoline demand is down 16% from a yr in the past.

Knowledge from India exhibits gasoline consumption within the nation continued to get well. The newest knowledge for Could present that gasoline consumption rose by a powerful 47% MoM, with the federal government enjoyable some features of nationwide lockdown over the month. Nevertheless, consumption nonetheless stays properly under regular, down 23% YoY for the month. The biggest declines have been seen in jet gasoline, gasoline and diesel.


US Power Info Administration raised its 2020 forecast for WTI and Brent crude oil costs and lowered its expectations for US crude-oil manufacturing. The EIA pegged its 2020 WTI oil value forecast at $35.14 a barrel, up 16.7% from its Could forecast. It additionally lifted its Brent crude value forecast by 11.4% to $38.02 for 2020.

EIA expects US crude manufacturing of 11.56 million barrels a day this yr, down 1% from the earlier view. Demand for international petroleum and liquid fuels will common 92.5 Mbpd this yr, down 8.Three MBpd from 2019. As a result of margins stay weak the world over, many refiners have regarded to inventories as a proxy for any restoration in demand.

refinery weak point, a bullish argument can nonetheless be made as manufacturing continues to say no with demand nonetheless exhibiting enchancment. The down pattern in output will start slowing noticeably whereas demand restoration could possibly be downsized if the coronavirus continues to ramp up. This market is at a crossroads. If demand continues to enhance, the oil markets have much more to go on the upside.


Worth motion suggests merchants are ready for a catalyst to set off the following main transfer. Trying on the second wave triggers, the markets will stay to the draw back with WTI buying and selling to the weak sides of ranges of $36-35. If we get right into a state of affairs the place we begin to take steps again with the coronavirus, the market goes to go down.

Markets have been already overbought with the bulls operating out of steam. On the provision aspect, ranges of $40 have pushed producers to activate the faucets, thus placing extra strain on OPEC+ efforts to stabilize the markets. In a extra constructive signal, knowledge confirmed that oil demand within the UK has been steadily recovering in latest weeks. Nonetheless, there’s nonetheless a large glut to be cleared globally, together with greater than 180 million barrels of crude saved at sea.

(The writer is VP – Analysis, Forex & Commodities, Motilal Oswal Monetary Providers.)