Oil Prices Have Consolidated, Now What?

When news of how potentially devastating COVID-19 could be started spreading in February 2020, oil prices were at $53/barrel. This was prior to the OPEC+ price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia that occurred in March and resulted in Saudi Arabia drastically increasing oil production after Russia refused to reduce output. We all know that COVID-19 and the OPEC+ price war eventually ended up attributing to NYMEX crude oil prices trading negatively in April, but here we are back at $52.60/barrel at writing. Now what?

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Will the Oil Rally Lose its Luster?

As we near the end of May, we will put behind us one of the most bullish rallies for the WTI crude oil contract in history with crude jumping almost 75% this month alone. Of course, with WTI prices currently trading at $33.33/barrel, that’s not saying much, as it is widely perceived the breakeven price for domestic crude producers is $32/barrel. The question is: will this rally persist? Let’s review some components to watch out for this summer.

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Iranian General Killed, Cause for Oil Prices Sudden Increase

Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds military force and one of the most powerful figures in the Islamic Republic, was killed Thursday night in an airstrike in Baghdad, the U.S. Defense Department confirmed. The death of such a powerful figure in the Iranian landscape raises questions about instability in a region which supplies about 25 percent of the world’s oil. Brent Oil, the international benchmark of crude, surged to nearly $70 a barrel (an increase of 4 percent) whereas West Texas Intermediate, the American oil benchmark for crude, also rose about 4 percent, to nearly $64 a barrel. This is the largest price increase since the attack on a major Saudi oil processing plant back in September.

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Will the Oil Demand Continue?

According to a global energy industry forecast, oil growth will continue to soar until the 2030’s and climate-damaging emissions will keep climbing until at least 2040. The World Energy Outlook is not only closely watched by the oil industry but also the governments due to its relevance to climate policy. The International Energy Agency said that almost 20% of the growth in last year’s global energy use was “due to hotter summers pushing up demand for cooling and cold snaps leading to higher heating needs.” The Internation Energy Agency (IEA) forecast global oil demand to be 106.4 million barrels per day by 2040 (up from 96.9 million last year).

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Oil Prices Shrug Off Highs

Although prices are well off their highs, the complex trades higher today after OPEC+ looks to extend production cuts, the U.S. and Chinese declare a truce on the trade war, and Iran reported having higher levels of uranium than the 2015 signed nuclear deal allows.

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