The rise in crude oil prices from twelve-year lows seen in the first quarter of the year led many analysts to project a complete oil market rebalancing between 4Q 2016 and 3Q 2017. Investment bankers Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as well as the Saudi Arabian government, the world’s largest-volume oil exporter had earlier declared the crude oil glut over and announced the beginning of a market rebalancing. With oil (technically) entering a bear market on Monday, those projections may have been a little hasty. However, analysts at the Paris-based intergovernmental organization, International Energy Agency (IEA), as well as bankers Barclays Plc, Citigroup Inc. and Société Générale SA, have expressed confidence that the rebalancing is on track.
Contrary to declarations, that “rebalancing” of the oil market never really began. Global oil imbalance ― excess of supply over demand ― grew steadily from 1Q 2014 through 2Q 2015 even as demand was increasing.
The unplanned supply outages in Canada (wildfires), Nigeria (militancy), and Libya (factional discord) among others in the early part of the year sent about 3.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil supply offline. This led to a decline in imbalance, which was mistaken for the significant cut in supply deemed necessary for a rebalancing of the market. Most of that outage has since been brought back on-stream.
Crude oil demand fell by 510,000 bpd between 3Q 2015 and 1Q 2016 according to IEA data and is likely to continue in that trajectory over the next few months. Global crude oil and product storage facilities are currently bloated. In the U.S., crude oil inventories are well above the five-year average range while gasoline and other product stocks stand at multi-seasonal highs. Continue reading