OPEC and its allies considered deeper production cuts

Recap: Oil futures gave up earlier gains to finish with a loss on Tuesday, with U.S. prices below $50 a barrel for the first time in more than a year, as demand worries continue to plague the market. Prices fell even as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies considered deeper production cuts to stem a coronavirus-inspired tumble in the commodity that entered a bear market a day ago. Despite efforts by OPEC to prop up prices, the abrupt decrease in demand due to the coronavirus is playing a much bigger role than that of oversupply, making OPEC’s efforts seem insignificant. WTI for March delivery fell 50 cents, or 1%, to settle at $49.61 a barrel. Tuesday’s settlement was the lowest since Jan. 7, 2019. April Brent fell 49 cents, or 0.9%, to $53.96 a barrel, its lowest settlement since Dec. 31, 2018. March RBOB shed 2.1% to $1.4432 a gallon and March heating oil added 0.4% to $1.5839 a gallon. 

Technical Analysis: Based upon a weekly spot continuation chart, WTI has broken below a long standing trend line set at $50.46. Although the week is not yet complete, this is the level we would look out for. A settlement below this line sets up the possibility for a run at $48.05, the low for June of 2017. Support is set at $49.40 and below that at $48.50. Resistance is set at $50.46 and $51.65. 

Fundamental News: BP’s CFO, Brian Gilvary, said the economic slowdown brought on by the virus will reduce oil consumption for the entire year by 300,000 bpd to 500,000 bpd, about 0.5% of global demand. 

Valero Energy Corp’s Chief Executive, Joseph Gorder, said the coronavirus outbreak is a “black swan event” whose economic impacts are not yet clear, adding that the real questions are the length and severity of the outbreak. 

ConocoPhillips’ Chief Executive, Ryan Lance, said it expects demand growth to slow due to the coronavirus.  It expects demand growth in 2020 to be lower by 100,000 to 200,000 bpd from its earlier projection of 1 million bpd.  He expects build up in storage in the US and in non-OPEC countries, which will put some pressure on oil prices. 

Goldman Sachs said 2020 global growth will take a modest hit from the outbreak of the coronavirus.  It estimated that annual average global GDP growth will fall by 0.1 to 0.2%. Goldman Sachs also stated that the global oil market expects the coronavirus outbreak to create a large demand shock and keep volatility in spot prices elevated.  The market is pricing in a 500,000 bpd average year-on-year loss in oil demand for 2020.

Venezuela’s oil exports fell almost 14% in January compared with December, while crude inventories continued to decline.  PDVSA and its joint ventures exported 951,903 bpd of crude and refined products last month compared with 1.1 million bpd in December and 1.38 million bpd in January 2019. 

Russia’s Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, said he could not say for sure if it was time to tighten oil output cuts amid an outbreak of a new coronavirus and a fall in oil prices.  He said OPEC and its allies might convene before the meeting which is currently scheduled for early March.  Three OPEC+ sources and an industry source familiar with the discussions said on Monday that OPEC and its allies were considering cutting output by a further 500,000 bpd due to the impact on oil demand from the coronavirus.  The Joint Technical Committee of the OPEC+ weighed the impact on global oil demand and economic growth from the coronavirus on Tuesday.  Officials will continue meeting on Wednesday. 

Libya’s National Oil Corp reported that the country’s oil production fell to 187,337 bpd as of Tuesday due to a blockade. 

Early Market Call – as of 8:30 AM EDT

WTI – Mar $50.94, up $1.33

RBOB – Mar $1.4744, up 3.15 cents

HO – Mar $1.6305, up 4.65 cents

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