OPEC Warns That Second Wave Of COVID Will Derail Demand Recovery

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By Irina Slav

A resurgence in Covid-19 cases in some countries could further dampen oil demand and interfere with a decline in oil inventories, Reuters has reported, citing an internal document of the OPEC+ technical panel.

Cases have been rising in many European countries, total infections in India have passed 5 million, and new cases are on the rise in some U.S. states.

Meanwhile, OPEC itself, as well as the International Energy Agency, earlier this week revised their oil demand outlook for the year. Both are now expecting a bigger contraction than they anticipated a month ago.

The IEA now expects 2020 oil demand to be 8.4 million bpd lower than it was a year ago, and OPEC sees it contracting by 9.5 million bpd. That’s up from 8.1 million bpd and 9.1 million bpd, respectively, that was forecast just a month ago.

At the same time, according to the document, global oil inventories are falling. Commodity trading giant Vitol recently chimed in with this opinion, seeing a strong reduction in oil inventories in the next three months, between 250 and 300 million barrels. Not everyone in the industry agrees, however, with Trafigura, who noted a “supply-heavy market” through the end of the year.

Meanwhile, OPEC+ has dramatically improved its compliance with the production cuts agreed in April to restore balance on the oil market. In August, sources from the cartel told Reuters, compliance hit 101 percent. The improvement followed Saudi Arabia’s threat to laggards, which include Iraq and Nigeria, with a reversal of its own cuts if they failed to fall in line and compensate for their overproduction in May and June.

Later today, OPEC+ ministers are meeting to discuss compliance levels and oil’s fundamentals amid yet another negative trend in oil prices, driven by the growing worry about demand. Iraq could complicate matters, with recent reports suggesting OPEC’s number-two may have plans to increase production the first chance it gets to boost vital oil revenues.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com


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