Vitol, the world’s biggest independent oil trader, expects oil prices to weaken in the fourth quarter this year, although prices are unlikely to be below $50 a barrel for a sustained period of time, Vitol’s chief executive officer Russell Hardy told Reuters on Thursday.
“I expect a softer price in Q4 but it is unlikely to be sustained below $50 a barrel because that means $45 for shale, which would result in capex being cut,” the manager noted.
Last month, Hardy said that Vitol had been revising down its global oil demand growth estimates and now sees growth at just 600,000 bpd-650,000 bpd this year. Next year, demand growth is set to pick up to around 800,000 bpd, according to Vitol.
“The market seems to be putting its weight behind economic slowdown and trade wars and slightly under-pricing risk that supply could be interrupted,” Hardy told Bloomberg TV in August.
For next year, Hardy expects oil prices to be around $60 a barrel because more supply from Brazil, Canada, Norway’s Johan Sverdrup oil project, and from U.S. shale thanks to more pipelines, would keep a lid on prices.
On Thursday morning, before the release of EIA’s report on U.S. inventories, WTI Crude was up 0.3 percent at US$56.43 and Brent Crude was trading up 0.44 percent at US$60.97. Oil prices jumped 4 percent mid-day on Wednesday, following encouraging economic data from China.
The protracted U.S.-China trade dispute and slowing economies and oil demand growth caused analysts to slash their forecasts for WTI Crude and Brent Crude prices this year to the lowest outlook since 2018, the monthly Reuters poll showed last week. According to 51 analysts and economists, WTI Crude will average US$57.90 a barrel this year, down from the US$59.29 per barrel forecast in the previous survey. Experts now see Brent Crude averaging US$65.02 per barrel this year, down from the US$67.47 forecast in the previous month’s poll.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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