Crude advances as Opec+ set to open taps at next meeting

WTI, which settled just shy of $75 a barrel on Friday, is up by about 53% this year

In this Wednesday, May 19, 2021, photo, pump jacks extract oil from beneath the ground on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation east of New Town, North Dakota. On oil well pads carved from the wheat fields around Lake Sakakawea, hundreds of pump jacks slowly bob to extract 100 million barrels of crude annually from a reservation shared by three Native American tribes.  (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

Oil prices are expected to hold on to their gains, with crude benchmarks trading at multi-year highs before an Opec meeting scheduled for July 1

International benchmark Brent has gained 47 per cent since the start of the year as a rapid vaccine campaign to stop the spread of Covid-19 renewed prospects for economic growth.

West Texas Intermediate, the main US gauge, has gained 53 per cent since the beginning of the year and is currently inching closer to the $75 a barrel mark for the first time since 2018.

Brent settled 0.82 per cent higher at $76.18 a barrel on Friday while WTI closed 1.02 per cent higher at $74.05 a barrel.

"Following a small post-FOMC [Federal Open Mark Committee] correction, crude oil quickly resumed its move higher, with WTI and Brent both reaching levels last seen in 2018," said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.

"This is in the belief that Opec+ will, in the near-term, manage production increases in a manner that ensures continued price support as global demand continues to recover and, later on, due to increased concerns that a lack of capex spent on new production could leave the market undersupplied from late 2022 onwards," he said.

Opec+, the group led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, will convene a ministerial meeting on July 1.

The group will consider a potential increase in output of 500,000 barrels per day in line with growing global demand for crude.

Opec+, which came together to enforce historic production curbs last year at the height of the Covid-induced economic and demand slump, is planning to return 2 million bpd back to the markets by July.

Vandana Hari, founder and chief executive at Singapore-based Vanda Insights, likened the role of Opec+ in the oil markets to that of a central bank.

"The parallels are many. Opec+ is now mimicking the Fed in not only influencing the market through its own tapering, but it has also become adept at keeping the stakeholders guessing on its moves," she said in a note on Sunday.

Ms Hari expects crude to continue to continue to climb for the rest of the year "but not to $80 levels".

"We think Brent’s climb to $70 and above, which was unexpected this early in the world’s post-Covid recovery, may be sustained," she said.

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