QNB expects oil price to average around $60 per barrel in 2018

 09 Dec 2017 - 15:37

QNB expects oil price to average around $60 per barrel in 2018


Doha: Qatar National Bank (QNB) forecasted an average oil price around $60 per barrel in 2018. In its weekly analysis, QNB said that the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its major non-OPEC partners, including Russia, announced on November 30 an extension of the production freeze agreed last year, aiming to keep 1.8 million barrels per day off the market until December 2018. The group’s compliance in 2017 with the agreement has been exceptional, averaging over 80%, which has helped oil prices average $54 per barrel through eleven months of the year, which has supported QNB long-time view that the group was likely to extend the cuts in 2018.

With global demand and US production evolving in line with expectations, QNB expects an average oil price of around $60 per barrel in 2018.

The global oil market underwent a major rebalancing this year having gone from being oversupplied by 0.9 million barrel per day in 2016 to undersupplied by 0.3 million barrel per day. This was due to OPECs initial production cut and higher-than-expected global demand on the back of strong global economic growth and in response to lower prices. Together, the production cuts and demand growth more than compensated for increases in US supply. The improvement in global supply-demand conditions, along with heightened geopolitical tensions, pushed prices to a nearly 20% average rise from 2016 levels and to above $60 per barrel currently, their highest levels in two years, QNB said.

In 2018, QNB expects the market to move from being undersupplied to balanced as supply growth exceeds demand growth. The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects demand growth to moderate to 1.3 million barrel per day from 1.5 million barrel per day in 2017 in line with marginally slower global GDP growth and as higher prices temper demand.

Although OPEC production should remain flat, global supply is expected to increase by 1.6 million barrel per day as US output is expected to ramp up by around 1 million barrel per day. The projected acceleration in US oil output reflects producers taking advantage of the current high price environment.

According to QNB, numerous reports suggest that US oil producers are aggressively hedging their future production at current prices which are above their breakeven prices. The same dynamic is playing out in other countries as well, such as Brazil and Canada, which account for the majority of the remainder of the supply increase.

Hence, it appears the market will depend on OPEC and its major partners ability to sustain a high compliance rate once again in 2018 in order to tighten supply. Assuming a repeat of same level of compliance as 2017, the global oil market should be balanced in 2018 and oil inventories should decline to their five year average by the third quarter of 2018.

Based upon QNB modelled historical relationship between the supply and demand balance and prices, this results in an average price forecast around $60 per barrel in 2018.

Although oil prices are currently higher than this, QNB expects regional geopolitical tensions to fade, reducing some of the political risk premia embedded in current prices.