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Tom Kool

Tom Kool

Tom majored in International Business at Amsterdam’s Higher School of Economics, he is Oilprice.com's Head of Operations

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The Calm Before The Storm In Oil Markets

  • U.S. Gulf of Mexico sees burst of drilling activity.
  • Shale drillers focus on investor returns.
  • Heatwave in India sends power demand soaring to unprecedented levels.

The first week of May could have brought us a much-awaited paradigm shift, however the markets still appraise the impact of China’s COVID lockdowns amidst the mass-testing taking place in Beijing and the probability of a comprehensive European embargo on Russian oil. With no clear way out for either of those, Brent futures remained range bound, closing Tuesday around $106 per barrel.

Amid Faltering Demand Prospects

- Whilst OPEC+ is widely expected to agree to another monthly increase of 432,000 b/d, the widening gap between the oil group’s stated objectives and reality is becoming too glaring to ignore.

- For March, the last month for which official OPEC+ data is available, the discrepancy added up to 1.45 million b/d and is set to only increase in April as Russia’s production went downhill. 

- Africa has been a source of headache of its own, with Libya’s key infrastructure blockade trimming some 550,000 b/d from global supply, whilst Nigeria and Angola continue to slide lowed amidst force majeures and terminal declines.

- The IEA’s release of 240 million barrels over the next months and China’s demand falling by as much as 1 million b/d on the heels of its COVID lockdowns have both mitigated demand-side issues, however should demand bounce back in the summer, tightness could be worsening again.

Market Movers

- French energy major TotalEnergies (NYSE:TTE) stated that it will continue shipping LNG from the 17.5 mtpa Yamal LNG project in which it has a 20% stake, protecting its core interests in Russia.

- US oil major Chevron (NYSE:CVX) raised its production target for the Permian by 15% vs 2021 levels, starting expecting to produce 725,000 b/d, whilst keeping the $10 billion buyback pledge unchanged.

- Portugal’s Galp Energia (ELI:GALP) is reportedly considering the sale of its upstream operations in Angola, one of its key areas of production areas, signaling that its drive towards renewables is becoming ever more timely.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Germany Drops Opposition to Russian Oil Embargo. Top officials from the German government confirmed that Berlin would be ready to back an immediate European Union ban on Russian oil imports, although yesterday’s EU summit failed to overcome the bloc-wide disagreements on the embargo.

Libya Blockade Squeezes Inventories. Libya’s NOC has warned the country’s warring two governments that the risks of storing some of Libyan grades have long-term consequences – the likes of Bu Attifel require continuous heating, otherwise they solidify in tanks and pipelines because of their high wax content.

Rocket Attacks Rock Kurdish Refining. In a missile attack that was claimed by nobody, a string of rockets targeted two refineries in the Kurdish capital city of Erbil, damaging oil storage capacities at the premises, only two months after Iran’s IRGC carried out a missile strike in the area.

U.S. Gulf of Mexico to See Burst of New Activity. The upcoming months will see the commissioning of BP’s (NYSE:BP) Argos and Shell’s (NYSE:SHEL) Vito floating production rigs, coming on the back of Murphy Oil’s recently started King Quay rig, adding some 280,000 b/d of new output capacity. Related: The U.S. Shale Patch Is Facing A Plethora Of Problems

Shale Pioneers Stick With Payouts. Shale drillers Diamondback Energy (NASDAQ:FANG) and Devon Energy (NYSE:DVN) have boosted their dividend payments whilst keeping production essentially flat, with the former going as far as to quintuple its quarterly payout, despite pressure coming from the Biden administration to ramp up production.

Unprecedented Heat Sends India’s Power Demand Soaring. Seeing the hottest spring months in decades, India’s power demand rose to its highest on record last month at 135 billion KWh, concurrently triggering widespread power cuts across the country as supply fell short of demand by 2.4 billion units.

Russia Wants to Build Latest African Gas Pipe Deal. Nigeria’s petroleum minister Timipre Sylva stated that Russia has expressed interest in investing in the long-mulled Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline that has been discussed since 2016, without specifying if the route will be offshore or onshore.

South African Coal Miners Struggling with Logistics. Mining companies in South Africa have resorted to trucking coal to ports amidst widespread disruptions across the country’s railway network - with Newcastle coal trading at $320 per metric ton the cost is palatable, despite rail being four times cheaper.


US Gas Futures Rise Again Amidst LNG Pull. US natural gas prices have been on the rise again, with the front-month June ‘22 delivery contract edging above $8 per mmBtu amidst an ever-increasing export pull on domestic gas production, with output marginally dropping to 92-93 bcfd.

PEMEX Surprises with Q1 Profit. Mexico’s national oil company PEMEX reported $6.17 billion in Q1 2022 net profit, reversing a $2 billion loss in the year-ago period, as growing output and higher crude prices have allowed it to lower total financial debt to $108 billion from $109 billion.

UK Government Asks Oil Industry to Reinvest. The UK business minister Kwasi Kwarteng has written to companies active in the UK North Sea to set out a clear plan to reinvest their profits into the North Sea, with increasing swaths of the opposition advocating a windfall tax on oil and gas producers.

Mauritania Attracts Investors for Offshore Licensing. Wielding several world-class offshore gas discoveries like BP’s (NYSE:BP) 13 TCf Bir-Allah, Mauritania has opened bids for 28 new offshore blocks surrounding the existing acreage, also seeking to lure in investments for green hydrogen for low-cost reliable power supply.

Ukraine Confronts Storage Tightness. According to media reports, Ukraine is set to face a significant shortage of storage facilities as grain and oilseeds stocks already reached an all-time high of 21 million tons amidst limited export opportunities, weighing on agriculture prices across the globe.

By Tom Kool for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Mamdouh Salameh on May 03 2022 said:
    It could indeed be the calm before the storm in the global oil market or it could alternatively lead to extended calm in the market but more divisions within the EU and its eventual fracturing.

    Slovakia and Hungary have already declared their opposition to a Russian oil ban. Slovakia says it needs up to six years to be able to replace Russian oil while Hungary says it cannot support an oil embargo at all.

    A veto by either one of them could sink the EU plans to ban Russian oil.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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