Oil prices fall as markets await Opec+ action

Prices are trading nearly 50% higher so far this year

Oil prices fell on Monday as markets remained uncertain about the future course of supply from Opec+, which abandoned a meeting at the beginning of July.

Crude commodity benchmarks paused their rally beyond $75 per barrel from earlier this month, when they traded at multi-year highs.

Brent, the international benchmark for crude, fell 1.27 per cent to trade at $74.59 per barrel at 5.53pm UAE time. West Texas Intermediate, the main US crude index, also fell 1.49 per cent to trade at $73.45 per barrel.

"The excitement in oil prices that led Brent close to reaching $78 per barrel has all but dissipated as the Opec+ discord takes a back seat to market worries over the resurgence of Covid-19 cases globally and the impact on oil demand in the near term," said Louise Dickson, oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy.

"The softening of the prompt backwardation [a term for lower future oil prices] in both the Brent and WTI futures curve is a reflection of the market’s unease of making a big bet on Opec+ again saving the day and keeping the oil market in balance."

Opec+, which is led by Russia and Saudi Arabia, has yet to decide on a new date for reconvening, after postponing its ministerial meeting three times earlier this month.

The group is facing deadlock as the UAE, Opec's third-largest producer, appealed for a review of baseline guides used to allot quotas.

The UAE has called on fellow producers to update the baselines used to calculate production curbs to reflect production capacities reached in April 2020, rather than the levels of October 2018.

The rising number of Covid-19 cases also has the potential to derail demand, which has picked up since the beginning of the year owing to vaccination campaigns and the slow easing of restrictions.

Prices are trading almost 50 per cent higher so far this year.

However, the rapid spread of the highly virulent Delta variant that first surfaced in India has the potential to reverse much of the gains in the oil markets so far this year.

Updated: July 12th 2021, 4:07 PM