Market Currents: OPEC’s losing battle?

Oil is rallying for a second consecutive day, with continued positive momentum from yesterday’s weekly inventory report, in combination with rising hopes of deeper and/or longer production cut commitments by OPEC. (OPEC cuts are starting to feel like QE at the turn of the decade: omnipresent). Hark, here are five things to consider in oil markets today.

1) Yesterday we discussed the impending restart to export flows of Nigeria’s Forcados crude, as an export pipeline gets back up and running after militant attacks last year. Nigeria has suffered outages to a number of key grades such as Qua Iboe, Brass River and Bonny Light in the last year or so, but as our ClipperData illustrate below, we are seeing flows of most of these grades getting back up to speed.

The loss of the Forcados crude stream – which averaged ~200,000 bpd of exports in 2015, dropping to ~50,000 bpd last year – has had a material impact on total exports. Similarly, Qua Iboe loadings dropped by about 110,000 bpd on the prior year to average 241,000 bpd in 2016, and have still not returned to 2015 levels.

Exports of these four grades averaged nearly 330,000 bpd lower last year than in 2015. All else being equal, a return to their former glory will lift Nigerian exports to within swinging distance of 2 million barrels per day.

Forcados and friends.jpg

2) Pemex announced late last week that Mexican crude exports hit a record low in March at just over 1 million barrels per day. We can see from our ClipperData that exports in April have ticked even lower. The drop in exports is led by falling production; oil production is said to have dropped to 2.02 million barrels per day in March. Output peaked in 2004 at 3.38mn bpd, and has been in structural decline ever since amid a lack of investment.

We can see in our ClipperData that exports to the U.S. have stabilized in the last year, with loadings bound for the U.S. up 3.5 percent through the first third of this year compared to year-ago levels. With the U.S. accounting for ~600,000 bpd of Mexican crude exports, Southern Europe and Asia account for the vast majority of the remaining volume, averaging over 400,000 bpd so far this year:

Mexico crude exports April 2017 ClipperData.jpg

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3) Today’s piece out on RBN Energy takes a look at U.S. distillate exports, using our ClipperData to highlight how flows are continuing to rise into Central and South America. Last month saw exports rise to the third highest month on our records – surpassed only by June and November of last year. This rise is coming at the expense of flows to Europe, which have been anchored below year-ago levels for the first four months of this year.

distillates to Latam ClipperData April 2017.jpg

4) OPEC’s monthly oil market report has been released, and hark, here are some key takeaways: the cartel has kept demand growth unchanged for this year at 1.27mn bpd – with non-OECD countries accounting for 1.04mn bpd of that – but has lifted last year’s demand growth by 65,000 bpd to +1.44mn bpd.

On the supply side, it has boosted its expectations for non-OPEC supply growth by 370,000 bpd from last month, up to 950,000 bpd, predominantly driven by U.S. shale production. It projects 820,000 bpd of supply growth from the U.S. this year.

non OPEC supply April 2017.jpg

The charts below are from the actual OPEC report, showing OPEC’s projection for the U.S., Canada and Brazil to lead supply growth higher this year, while Chinese output ebbs again:

OPEC non OPEC supply growth April 2017.jpg

5) Finally, the mighty Abudi Zein (aka, the Oracle of Oil) and myself will be presenting our proprietary semi-annual outlook at four events next month in New York, Houston, London and Geneva. Spaces are limited, but you can register here if you would like to attend…it is going to be a blast!

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