Fuel & Oil Update – 19 May

Market News

Kicking off the week at $73.62 per barrel, Brent Crude hit a high of $77.24 on Wednesday, before slightly pulling back to $76.86—making it clear that breaking the $75 mark was not on the cards. This week ushered in the first upswing in crude oil prices since mid-April, a welcome change largely spurred by improved market sentiment surrounding future demand, along with encouraging progress in debt ceiling negotiations in Congress.

News of President Biden’s announcement of direct debt ceiling negotiations served as a shot in the arm for oil prices, with West Texas Intermediate following suit and climbing by 3%. Further adding to the momentum, the US Department of Energy unveiled plans to stockpile 3 million barrels of oil for the strategic petroleum reserve.

Amid these developments, G7 leaders convened in Japan to discuss potential sanctions against Russia. The US Treasury backed this diplomatic move by releasing a report endorsing a price cap aimed at curbing Russia’s oil revenues.

As we glance towards the future, the majority of Brent Crude Bank’s forecasts for late 2023 and 2024 hover between $90-$100 a barrel. This sets an advantageous stage for those looking to lock in forward rates and stabilize prices for petroleum-based products like Diesel and Gas Oil, as we sail into 2024.

Eyes in the market remained trained on the production and export numbers emerging from Saudi Arabia and Russia in April and May. Shipping data unveiled a hike in exports from both countries in April, followed by production cuts implemented on May 1st. Fresh off the press, recent data from the Joint Organisations Data Initiative (JODI) showed a mild increase in Saudi oil exports from 7.45 million bpd to 7.52 million bpd in February. Ahead of an unexpected production cut announced in early April, Saudi production also nudged upwards to 10.46 million bpd.

China’s oil demand demonstrated notable growth, with an increase of 1.6 million bpd in total product demand and a 1.37 million bpd spike in crude imports. However, in the Shandong province, Chinese authorities tightened the screws on safety checks for aging oil tankers at the Qingdao port, leading to delays for vessels over 20 years old.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is scrutinizing senior supermarket executives as part of its investigation into road fuel prices. There are growing concerns about the widening gap between retailers’ costs and the selling prices of petrol and diesel. Addressing this issue, Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, commented: “With the cost-of-living crisis continuing, drivers are acutely aware of prices at the pumps and would welcome some reassurance that what they are being charged is fair… The wholesale prices have been very similar for several months – in fact diesel is now cheaper to buy at the refinery gate than petrol – but the price premium on the forecourt, though down from last year’s high of 25p per litre, still seems stuck at around 10p per litre.”

Market Calendar:

  • 24th May : UK CPI Data Report / U.S Federal Reserve Open Market Committee
  • 24th May : U.S CPI Figures / Crude Oil Imports Report

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