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High Gasoline Prices Are Starting To Hurt Demand

1. OPEC Exports Underwhelm Despite High Prices

Source: Kpler.

- The Russia-Ukraine war has taken OPEC heavyweights out of the public limelight, somewhat concealing the fact that the 400,000 b/d monthly increments of OPEC+ routinely end up underproduced.

- Saudi Arabia is the only major OPEC producer to pull off a tangible export hike over the past months – in February outflows jumped to 7.15 million b/d – however with Iraq and Kuwait faltering, the net effect has been lower than assumed.

- Hence, OPEC producers could enjoy high prices with a limited effort to boost production, not risking their spare production capacity – arguably the reason why OPEC told the EU not to ban Russian oil from the markets.

- Iraq is a peculiar case in point, with its exports stagnating for four months already at 3.2 million b/d and production set to decline this month, coming on the back of a previous month-on-month drop in February.

2. COVID-19 Reappearance Puts Chinese Rebound into Question

- China’s daily COVID-19 count reached almost 5,000 cases on Friday as the rapid spread of the Omicron variant has triggered movement restrictions in cities across 20 provinces.

- Most of the cases have been reported in Shanghai, Shandong, and Guangdong, accounting for 27% of China’s oil consumption last year, meaning China should see weaker demand than expected in 2022.

- S&P Platts expects movement restrictions…

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