Oil futures got a lift Tuesday as Hurricane Sally neared landfall, forcing the shutdown of around a quarter of offshore Gulf of Mexico crude production and a number of refineries, but rising worries over the demand output have limited the upside potential for prices.
“Oil producers will continue to have to align their output strategies with the hesitant recovery in demand well into 2021,” said Cailin Birch, global economist at The Economist Intelligence Unit, in emailed commentary.
West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery
rose 30 cents, or 0.8%, to $37.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while November Brent crude
the global benchmark, rose 31 cents, or 0.8%, to $39.92 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.
The center of Hurricane Sally is expected to pass near the coast of southeastern Louisiana Tuesday and make landfall late in the day or early Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said in a Tuesday morning update. “Historic flooding” is possible, with “extreme life-threatening flash flooding” likely through Wednesday along portions of the northern Gulf Coast.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement late Monday estimated that approximately 21.39% of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut in, along with around 25.28% of natural-gas production. Reuters reported that the Phillips 66
Alliance oil refinery, which processes 255,600 barrels a day of oil closed on Monday, while Shell
cut production to minimum rates at its 227,400 barrel-a-day refinery in Norco, Louisiana.
October natural gas
rose 1.9% to $2.354 per million British thermal units.
However, worries remain over the outlook for demand. The International Energy Agency on Tuesday, in its monthly report, said it now expects global demand to fall by 8.4 million barrels this year, a contraction of 300,000 barrels more from last month’s report.
Oil consumption had already been slowing considerably in the euro zone and Japan “prior to the onset of the pandemic, and in line with moderating GDP and greater energy efficiency,” said Birch.
“Major emerging markets, and particularly China, offer the only real bright spots for 2020,” she said. “China’s oil consumption rebounded in the second quarter, as its lockdown measures were lifted, bringing consumption back on a par with pre-coronavirus levels.”
“We still expect overall demand in China to fall by about 1.5% in the full-year compared with 2019. However, China will be the main source of demand growth in 2021,” said Birch.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, on Monday again cut its 2020 demand outlook and cut its 2021 demand-growth forecast, citing the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
OPEC and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, isn’t expected to make any changes when members of a joint committee meet Thursday to discuss its existing program of output cuts. Analysts see room for tension amid recent pressure on prices though.
“While Saudi Arabia is appealing for rigorous compliance with the quotas and is threatening rebel members with a price war, growing resentment is evident even among its traditional allies, the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Kuwait,” wrote analysts at Commerzbank.
“And if this is the case, what is the situation going to be like in countries such as Iraq, Angola or Nigeria, which are not as economically and financially solid as the Gulf states? Sentiment could hardly be worse ahead of Thursday’s meeting. Yet it is not only the status quo that needs to be maintained – actually more pronounced cuts will be needed from October, for demand is considerably weaker than anticipated, according to yesterday’s OPEC monthly report,” they said.
Weekly updates on U.S. petroleum supplies are due out from the American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday and from the Energy Information Administration early Wednesday.
Domestic crude-oil supplies for the week ended Sept. 11 are expected to show a climb of 2.4 million barrels, according to Marshall Steeves, energy markets analyst at IHS Markit. Gasoline supplies are forecast to fall by 200,000 barrels for the week, while distillates, which include heating oil, are seen climbing by 700,000 barrels.