Oil: Geopolitical instability returns to forefront

01/19/2022 | 06:17am

Oil markets are definitely in Olympic form. Brent and WTI are up by almost 11% in 2022. Brent crude oil is now close to USD 88 per barrel, a price that has not been reached since 2014.

While the fundamentals remain positive for the energy sector, the emergence of geopolitical frictions affecting producer countries has also been a bullish catalyst in recent weeks. First, the deadly riots in Kazakhstan, where a state of emergency was declared, kept traders on their toes, before the attack by Yemeni rebels, who targeted storage facilities in the United Arab Emirates with the help of drones. It is worth noting that these growing tensions come as markets are closely monitoring the potential impact of escalating friction between Russia and Ukraine.
 
On the production side, nothing has really changed compared to 2021. Supply remains constrained by OPEC+ production quotas, with the alliance struggling to increase production rates due to maintenance activities and underinvestment issues. On the other hand, demand remains dynamic despite a still anxious health context. As proof, US commercial inventories have once again declined and are now at their lowest level since October 2018.
 
As a result, the market remains tight today, but the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) sees an improvement starting in the second quarter thanks to increased U.S. production. The EIA estimates that U.S. oil production will average 11.8 million barrels per day (mbd) in 2022 and 12.41 mbd in 2023. This dynamic should be accompanied by a replenishment of stocks and put downward pressure on prices. For its part, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has revised upwards its forecast for global oil demand by 200,000 barrels per day for 2022. The institution points to the fact that global supply must follow the recovery of demand, at the risk of disturbing the market with new episodes of turbulence in oil prices. 
 
Technically, in weekly data, the price of Brent continues inexorably to move forward. The crossing of the USD 85 line illustrates the domination of bullish bets, which currently shows no sign of abating. The underlying trend remains bullish in all time frames. 
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