FILE PHOTO: A pump jack operates at sunset in an oil field in Midland, Texas U.S. August 22, 2018. Picture taken August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo
The potential supply shortage is a a reversal of the glut seen in the oil market between 2015 to 2017. Photo: Reuters

Oil price could remain high for some time



Oil prices rose last week to more than $80 per barrel for the first time since November 2014. Rather than rising on the back of strong demand growth and a positive outlook for the global economy, the recent move in prices has been catalysed by growing market anxiety over supply.

In a reversal of the glut the market endured from 2015 to 2017, there is a real risk we could enter 2019 with not enough oil to go around, setting the stage for oil prices to remain high for some time.

The most immediate source of a supply risk is Iran. US sanctions that directly target Iran’s oil exports will come into effect in early November and estimates of how much oil could be taken off the markets vary from 750,000 barrels per day to as much as 1.5 million barrels per day.

Regardless of the scale of the decline, a sizeable drop from a significant oil exporter will tighten markets in the final months of 2018 and importers will need to scramble to find replacement barrels.

The spectre of sanctions has already led importers to move away from taking cargoes from Iran and recent market surveys point to a drop in Iranian exports of more than 400,000 barrels per day in August alone. The degree of compliance by major importers of Iranian crude already appears to be high, with South Korea, the European Union and India cutting back their purchases sharply in recent months.

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The Trump White House is showing no signs of easing the economic pressure on Iran and has so far been reticent to offer waivers on sanctions to importers. Considering the hostile rhetoric traded between the presidents of both the US and Iran at the UN this month, geopolitical risks will continue to exert an upward pull on oil.

While not relaxing the pressure on Iran, President Trump has publicly criticised Opec members several times for not raising production to dampen current prices, including declaring that Opec was “ripping the world off” in front of the UN General Assembly.

Opec members did agree to raise production at their June meeting to compensate for deteriorating production in Venezuela and to put an end to the ‘over-compliance’ with their 2017 production cut agreement with other countries, notably Russia.

But so far the increase has not been large enough to cap prices and Opec countries will be wary of increasing output too much and risk pushing the market back into surplus. Within Opec there are only a few countries that have the capacity to meaningfully raise production, most prominently Saudi Arabia, which has historically claimed an ability to raise production to 12 million barrels per day compared with current levels of around 10.4 million barrels per day. Saudi Arabia has not tested sustained production at that level, however, and there is likely to be a mismatch in terms of the quality of oil it holds in reserve compared with what is actually needed in the market.

While an increase in production now could help to limit the gains in prices it could end up causing more problems further down the road. Opec’s production is currently at around 90 per cent of its total capacity, leaving it little room to adjust production upward to compensate for more unanticipated supply outages or rapid increases in demand.

But it’s not just in Opec where supply risks are exerting upward pressure on prices. In the US the rapid pace of supply growth from shale oil producers is butting up against infrastructure constraints, and Canada is also facing similar takeaway capacity issues.

High oil prices will be welcome news for the GCC’s oil and gas producers as they help shore up fiscal and external balances. But for importers oil prices around $80 per barrel are only another economic headwind to overcome in the midst of rising trade tensions and deteriorating financial conditions in several large emerging markets. One way for oil prices to fall, albeit a gloomier one, would be if disruptions to global trade sank overall commodity demand.

After several years awash in a ‘glut’ of oil, markets need to be prepared to adjust to a sustained period of tightness and endure higher prices. While expectations of oil as high as $100 per barrel are more exclamatory than realistic, sentiment may help push oil prices up from their current levels before we see any downside correction.

Tim Fox is chief economist at Emirates NBD. With inputs from Edward Bell, the director of commodity research at the bank

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

if you go

The flights

Emirates offer flights to Buenos Aires from Dubai, via Rio De Janeiro from around Dh6,300. emirates.com

Seeing the games

Tangol sell experiences across South America and generally have good access to tickets for most of the big teams in Buenos Aires: Boca Juniors, River Plate, and Independiente. Prices from Dh550 and include pick up and drop off from your hotel in the city. tangol.com

 

Staying there

Tangol will pick up tourists from any hotel in Buenos Aires, but after the intensity of the game, the Faena makes for tranquil, upmarket accommodation. Doubles from Dh1,110. faena.com

 

Poacher

Director: Richie Mehta

Starring: Nimisha Sajayan, Roshan Mathew, Dibyendu Bhattacharya

Rating: 3/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

UFC FIGHT NIGHT: SAUDI ARABIA RESULTS

Main card
Middleweight:

Robert Whittaker defeated Ikram Aliskerov via knockout (Round 1)
Heavyweight:
Alexander Volkov def Sergei Pavlovich via unanimous decision
Middleweight:
Kelvin Gastelum def Daniel Rodriguez via unanimous decision
Middleweight:
Shara Magomedov def Antonio Trocoli via knockout (Round 3)
Light heavyweight:
Volkan Oezdemir def Johnny Walker via knockout (Round 1)
Preliminary Card
Lightweight:

Nasrat Haqparast def Jared Gordon via split decision
Featherweight:
Felipe Lima def Muhammad Naimov via submission (Round 3)
Welterweight:
Rinat Fakhretdinov defeats Nicolas Dalby via split decision
Bantamweight:
Muin Gafurov def Kang Kyung-ho via unanimous decision
Light heavyweight:
Magomed Gadzhiyasulov def Brendson Ribeiro via majority decision
Bantamweight:
Chang Ho Lee def Xiao Long via split decision


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