Oil declines as market surplus forecast counters Libya worries
Oil prices eased on Wednesday, extending declines as the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast a market surplus in the first half, helping ease concerns about disruptions that have slashed Libya’s crude output.
Brent crude LCOc1 was down 24 cents, or 0.4%, at $64.35 a barrel at 0309 GMT, after dropping 0.3% on Tuesday. U.S. oil CLc1 fell 29 cents, or 0.5%, to $58.09 a barrel, having declined 0.3% the day before.
The head of the IEA, Fatih Birol, said on Tuesday he expects the market to be in surplus by a million barrels per day (bpd) in the first half of this year.
“I see an abundance of energy supply in terms of oil and gas,” Birol told the Reuters Global Markets Forum, while he was attending World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
“It’s the reason that recent incidents we have seen – with the Iranian general killed, Libya unrest – didn’t boost international oil prices,” Birol said, referring to the U.S. killing of an Iranian commander and retaliation by Tehran that sent prices briefly soaring earlier this month.
Libya’s National Oil Corp on Monday declared force majeure on the loading of oil from two major oil fields after the latest development in a long-running military conflict.
“Market participants are already starting to fade this story – believing that this is a transitory outage,” said Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.
However, Croft warned that the “multi-year proxy war leaves Libyan production at high risk for extended outages and there are no indications that the country is close to turning the corner.”
Unless oil facilities quickly return to operation Libya’s oil output will be reduced from about 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to just 72,000 bpd.
Still, U.S. crude production in large shale deposits is expected to rise to record highs in February, although the pace of increase is likely to be the lowest in about year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday.
Away from oil fundamentals, markets have been roiled by the emergence of a new strain of a coronavirus out of China amid concern about the impact of a possible pandemic on economic growth.