Crude Prices Drop Again As Experts Forecast a Gloomy 2020

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Monday June 10, 2019

Analysts who last week thought U.S. president Donald Trump reneging on imposing tariffs against Mexico would buoy oil prices were proven half-right on Monday: the truce between the two countries did indeed support prices - before the commodity fell 1.4 percent.

Brent dropped $1, or 1.6 percent, to settle at $62.29 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate crude lost 73 cents, or 1.4 percent, to end at $53.26 per barrel.

Monday's trading behaviour demonstrated that yet again, even good news on the geopolitical front is not enough to fundamentally change the trajectory of crude, with traders more worried than ever of a trade deal not being reached between the U.S. and China at a Group of 20 summit later this month.

Their concerns were exacerbated by customs data showing that China's crude imports slipped to around 40.23 million tonnes in May, from an all-time high of 43.73 million tonnes in April.

Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note, "As U.S.-China tariff concerns heighten, we see more downward adjustments to world oil demand both across this year and next in providing a limiter on occasional price advances."

Economists over the past week have revised down their GDP growth forecasts for the U.S., China, India, and Brazil, and Barclays noted that "The revisions imply a 300,000 barrel per day [bpd] reduction in our current global oil demand outlook of 1.3 million bpd year-on-year for this year."

Once again, the analytical and media communities viewed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as the vehicle that could help bring about market stability, as long as it extends its output cuts to the end of this year.

On Monday, Russia suggested that it too supports such an extension: Anton Siluanov, finance minister for the former Soviet Union, warned that if the cuts were terminated early, oil prices could fall as low as $30 per barrel, while Alexander Novak, energy minister for Russia, added that "As far as such a scenario is concerned, this is not ruled out; a lot depends, of course, on the market situation in the second half of the year, in the third quarter, on the supply and demand balance."

However, as far as many experts are concerned, the outlook for the crude market will remain grim even into 2020, thanks to a slowing global economy, rising U.S. shale production, and a potentially deepening trade war, according to Bloomberg.

The news agency quoted Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd., as saying, "The market is asking why it should bother going long for just three months when the future looks bleak."

Unable to disguise its political bias, Bloomberg blamed Trump "and his erratic policies, throwing wrench after wrench into the gears of the global economy," and it added that "The first tentative glances into 2020 by oil consultants are nearly unanimous about the prospect of oversupply - a view shared in private by major commodity trading houses; the surpluses are all the more remarkable because none is predicting a recovery in Iranian and Venezuelan output."