Analysts Confident that Oil Rally Will Continue Despite More Price Losses

Wednesday March 27, 2019

Wednesday saw more assurances from the normally skittish analytical community that the oil price rally will continue well into 2019 - despite crude slipping due to an unexpectedly sharp increase in U.S. stockpiles.

Brent Crude on Wednesday dipped 14 cents to $67.83 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate declined 53 cents to $59.41.

The losses were the result of widespread expectations of a drop in U.S. inventories of 1.2 million barrels being obliterated by news from the American Petroleum Institute that inventories had in fact jumped by 1.9 million barrels for the week ending March 22.

But perhaps in recognition that for the year to date Brent is up 24 percent and WTI by 27 percent, some analysts brushed of Wednesday's losses - as well as losses incurred over the past few weeks as a temporary annoyance.

Edward Bell, director of commodities research at Emirates NBD, told CNBC, "We expect the rally in Brent prices will continue over Q2-Q3 this year as the market tightens further on the back of OPEC [the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries] production cuts and deteriorating output in Venezuela."

Robin Mills, CEO of Qamar Energy, contributed to this sentiment by stating, "Demand continues to be fairly good, OPEC+ compliance is high, the production cuts deal is planned to continue, output in Venezuela will keep deteriorating and Iranian exports are still under pressure.

"If prices go too high, likely the U.S. will grant more Iran waivers, and if they don't then, with a lag, the Saudis will respond by increasing production within their overall cap."

Mills went on to state that "Demand continues to be fairly good, OPEC+ compliance is high, the production cuts deal is planned to continue, output in Venezuela will keep deteriorating and Iranian exports are still under pressure."

Ben Lockock, co-head of oil at Trafigura, declared himself to be "gently bullish" on the strength of predictions that the market would stay in the range of $65 to $70 per barrel.

While taking the recent price declines in stride, Bob Iaccino, chief market strategist at Path Trading Partners, voiced his concern that the price trajectory appearing to stall in the $60s is dissuading speculators from entering the market: "Speculators are afraid that the demand weakness story is real, that potentially a global recession is real, and if that's the case it doesn't really matter whether the [OPEC] production cuts are extended, because demand can fall off a cliff much to the effect of not being able to boost prices with those productions cuts, if you're getting 10- 20- 30 percent less demand due to economic weakness."

Iaccino noted that the only way to truly ensure a less volatile crude market is to "get the engine of global trade greased" by successfully ending the U.S. China trade dispute and other global issues - but he warned that even if those deals were to happen overnight, it would take at least two quarters to have their positive effects felt in the economy.