Oil futures little changed despite record output cut by Opec+

In early trade Brent crude futures rose 6 cents to US$31.54 a barrel by 2211 GMT. — Reuters pic
In early trade Brent crude futures rose 6 cents to US$31.54 a barrel by 2211 GMT. — Reuters pic

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NEW YORK, April 13 ― Oil futures were little changed yesterday even after major oil producers reached a deal for a record 10 million bpd output cut, with analysts saying the agreement is insufficient to head off oversupply as the coronavirus hammers demand.

Total global oil supply cuts could come to 20 million barrels per day, around 20 per cent of global supply, Kuwait's oil minister said. After four days of wrangling, Opec, Russia and other oil-producing nations, a group known as Opec+, agreed yesterday to cut output by a record amount of 9.7 million barrels per day, representing around 10 per cent of global supply to support oil prices amid the pandemic, sources said.

“If G20 adds about another 10 mln bpd, then the world is meeting the total imbalance from May and this would be a massive relief,” Rystad Energy said. “Still storage will be filled to nearly the top in April, but the market will stabilize.”

In early trade Brent crude futures rose 6 cents to US$31.54 (RM135.91) a barrel by 2211 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 22 cents to US$22.54 a barrel.

Morgan Stanley yesterday raised its second-quarter oil price forecasts to US$25 a barrel for Brent and US$22.50 a barrel for WTI. However, the bank said the 9.7 million bpd cut would not prevent sharp inventory build-ups in the coming months, keeping prices under pressure.

Leaders of the world's top three oil producers, Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's King Salman, all supported the Opec+ deal to cut global crude output, the Kremlin said on Sunday.

Trump praised the deal, saying it would save jobs in the US energy industry.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE volunteered to make cuts even deeper than those agreed, which would effectively bring the Opec+ supply down by 12.5 million bpd from current supply levels, the Saudi energy minister said.

Worldwide fuel consumption is down roughly 30 per cent, due to the Covid-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 100,000 people worldwide and kept businesses and governments on lockdown.

“What this deal does is enable the global oil industry and the national economies and other industries that depend upon it to avoid a very deep crisis,” said IHS Markit Vice Chairman Daniel Yergin. “This restrains the build-up of inventories, which will reduce the pressure on prices when normality returns ― whenever that is.”

On Thursday, Opec+ outlined plans to cut output by more than a fifth, or by 10 million barrels per day (bpd), but Mexico balked at the production cuts it was asked to make, delaying the signing of a final deal. The group met on Sunday to hammer out a deal.

Opec+ has also said it wanted producers outside the group, such as the United States, Canada, Brazil and Norway, to cut a further 5 per cent or 5 million bpd.

Canada and Norway signaled a willingness to cut. The United States, where antitrust legislation makes it hard to act in tandem with cartels such as Opec, has said its output would fall by as much as 2 million bpd by itself this year because of low prices.

“We're going to see a significant drop in production anyway from producers who can't make money producing,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures group.

Speaking ahead of the Opec+ meeting, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said the United States was ready to cut its oil output by 2 million to 3 million barrels per day, Interfax news agency reported, although it was unclear if he was referring to market-based cuts.

More than 1.7 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 109,519 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Governments have ordered residents to stay home to curb the spread, roiling markets and disrupting daily life. ― Reuters

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