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Alex Kimani

Alex Kimani

Alex Kimani is a veteran finance writer, investor, engineer and researcher for Safehaven.com. 

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Will We See Another Oil Price Breakout Soon?

  • StanChart has now toned down its bullish outlook a bit,
  • Whereas sanctions against Russian oil are likely to remain at the top of the EU policy agenda in the coming months, a complete ban is unlikely.
  • Experts can't seem to agree on the Russian outlook

With Russia's invasion of Ukraine looking likely to transition into an extended war of attrition in the east of Ukraine, oil supply jitters in the market have cooled off considerably. Also, it appears that recent SPR releases--casually dismissed by many experts as a mere band-aid--are having the desired effect. The oil price bull run has hit the skids after President Biden announced that the U.S. would release 180M barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the next six months in the largest release in SPR history, while threatening to impose penalties on domestic drillers for failing to use federal oil permits. The International Energy Agency's 31 member nations plan to release 120 million barrels from their emergency oil reserves, including 60 million barrels from a previously announced drawdown from U.S. stockpiles, marking the second coordinated release of emergency oil from the IEA in just over a month.

Front-month Brent has failed to achieve a run of two successive days of higher settlements in the past three weeks and only managed a higher intra-day high on two days over the past two weeks. Front-month Brent settled at USD 98.48 per barrel on 11 April, a w/w fall of USD 9.05/bbl and just USD 1.64/bbl higher than on 23 February, the day before Russia invaded Ukraine while WTI fell USD 8.99/bbl w/w to settle at USD 94.29/bbl on 11 April.

Oil Sanctions Still Coming

In a previous oil price update issued a few weeks ago, commodity experts at Standard Chartered had warned that the market could soon face a 3mb/d supply deficit partly due to self-sanctioning and also due to the possibility of a ban on the importation of Russian oil. That certainly appeared within the realm of possibility considering the global outrage that ensued after grim images appeared from the town of Bucha near Kyiv, including a mass grave and bound bodies of people shot at close range.

Related: China And The U.S. Are Battling For Influence Over Iraqi Oil

But StanChart has now toned down its bullish outlook a bit. The experts are now saying that whereas sanctions against Russian oil are likely to remain at the top of the EU policy agenda in the coming months, a complete ban is unlikely.

Rather, StanChart says the EU is likely to consider various intermediate measures, including tariffs and the use of escrow funds in such a way that Russia is unable to access all its export revenues. 

Still, experts can't seem to agree on the Russian outlook.

StanChart has forecast a y/y decline in the annual average of 1.61mb/d, good for a 3mb/d sequential fall from pre-invasion levels; the IEA expects Russia's crude output to decline 1.65mb/d, the EIA expects growth of 56kb/d, OPEC Secretariat has revised Russian output lower by 530kb/d, although it still forecasts an increase of 433b/d, lower than the OPEC+ output cut unwinding schedule.

The latest EIA weekly data was mildly bullish. Crude oil inventories rose 2.42mb to 412.37mb, leaving them 85.94mb lower y/y and 66.24mb below the five-year average. The w/w change in the crude oil balance was 493kb/d in the direction of lower inventories, primarily due to a 705kb/d increase in crude oil exports; however, this was more than offset by a 1.332mb/d w/w swing in the crude oil adjustment term in the direction of higher inventories. The EIA's estimate of US crude oil supply rose 0.1mb/d w/w to 11.8mb/d. The EIA forecast is that crude oil output will average above 12mb/d in July 2022 and will move above 13mb/d in August 2023 to a new-all time high (the current monthly average high of 12.966mb/d was set in November 2019). Related: Russia Ready To Sell Oil At Any Price

The American Petroleum Institute (API) reported crude inventories rose 7.8mb, relative to the DOE expectation for a build of 0.9mb on the week. Crude inventories at Cushing rose 0.4mb on the week, according to the API. API reported gasoline inventories fell 5.1mb, relative to the DOE expectation for a draw of 0.4mb on the week. API reported diesel inventories fell 5.0mb, relative to the DOE expectation for a draw of 0.5mb on the week. In total, API showed a draw of 2.3mb in oil and oil products on the week, relative to the DOE expectation for flat week on week inventories. The API figures are bullish, relative to DOE expectations.

Meanwhile, drilling activity in the U.S. shale fields is gradually gathering momentum.

The U.S. oil rig count rose by 13 w/w to a two-year high of 546, according to the latest

Baker-Hughes survey. The oil rig count has added 51 over the past 10 weeks compared to 34 over the previous 10 weeks. Texas accounted for most of the latest w/w increase in oil drilling activity, with the state-wide oil rig count gaining 10 w/w to 305. Among the Permian sub-basins


Delaware Basin activity rose by two to 169 rigs, Midland Basin activity rose by six to 131 rigs, and other Permian activity rose by a single rig to 30 rigs. The U.S. gas rig count rose by three w/w to a 29-month high of 141, with gas rig count by the Haynesville field hitting a nine-year high of 70 rigs.

By Alex Kimani for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Dennis Basco on April 14 2022 said:
    as soon as bidens gone prices will go down
  • Mamdouh Salameh on April 14 2022 said:
    The fundamentals of the global oil market are still pointing to more surges in oil prices.

    And contrary to what the author is saying, the United States’ SPR release of 180 million barrels which are yet to reach the market will have a very little and short-lived impact on prices. The reason is that the market has already factored them in and moreover, the market also knows that they will have to be replaced at some point in time.

    There are indications that Western sanctions are hurting the economies of those who imposed them more than Russia’s. My reasoning is that Russia was far better prepared than in 2014 to face Western sanctions. Moreover, it is still virtually exporting the same pre-conflict volumes of gas and oil but at much higher prices. Furthermore, its other exports like wheat, fertilizers, processed uranium food materials and precious metals are fetching much higher prices than before the conflict. And since Russia is virtually self-sufficient in almost everything, it is saving a lot by hardly importing anything. Therefore, it is very possible that Russia’s economy might not contract this year. Furthermore, Russia has access to two of the world's largest markets: China and India. And while high oil and gas prices are ensuring that Russia’s budget is increasing its surplus, these very same prices are expanding the United States’ and the EU’s budget deficits.

    As for the continued hype about customers shunning Russian crude oil exports, oil prices are giving the lie to such hype. If it was true, Brent crude would have hit $140-$150 a barrel by now. Even if only 3.0 million barrels a day (mbd)of Russian oil exports are out of the market, they will plunge the world in a very serious oil crisis. Can anyone then imagine what would happen to the global economy if Russia’s 8.0-mbd exports were out of the market?

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

Leave a comment

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