Bunker prices may turn into irregular phase in the lead-up to OPEC’s meeting

MABUX World Bunker Index (consists of a range of prices for 380 HSFO, 180 HSFO and MGO at the main world hubs) slightly increased in the period of Nov. 16 – Nov. 23:

380 HSFO – up from 355.79 to 360.50 USD/MT (+4.71)
180 HSFO – up from 398.07 to 401.79 USD/MT (+3.72)
MGO -up from 585.14 to 590.00 USD/MT (+4.86)

An agreement by OPEC and other producers such as Russia to limit oil production has supported prices in recent months, with the deal expected to be extended at the group’s next meeting on Nov. 30.

But fears of hesitation on Russia’s part weighed on prices in the beginning of the week. Reports emerged that Russia is considering a delay on the decision to extend the cut. That’s after Energy Minister Alexander Novak hinted more than once that from Moscow’s perspective, this decision is far from urgent (taking into consideration that RF budget is based on Brent at US$40). Russian oil firms are arguing that their production restrictions are only benefiting others while Russian companies have to cut back from new projects in which they have heavily invested. As a result, on Nov.21 Russian oil producers met with the energy ministry to discuss only a six-month extension, as opposed to the nine months originally offered by President Vladimir Putin. Besides, to some extent, lower oil prices could be more beneficial for the Russian economy. Russia prefers to keep the ruble cheaper as this stimulates exports, curbs imports, and boosts competitiveness. Traditionally, the Russian currency has followed Brent’s moves closely. If, however, Brent goes high enough, there may be a spike in speculative interest in rubles, which will cause the currency to rise, too.

At the same time, top crude exporter Saudi Arabia is lobbying oil ministers to agree next week on a nine-month extension to OPEC-led supply cuts. Energy minister Khalid al-Falih said, that targets to reduce global oil surplus would not be reached to March 2018. This also suggests, that oil cut agreement needs to be extended.

Venezuela struggles to pump enough crude oil to meet the country’s OPEC output target. Meantime, country’s oil output hit a 28-year low in October as state-owned PDVSA tries to find the funds to drill wells, maintain oilfields and keep pipelines and ports working. Venezuela’s oil production is to fall by at least 250,000 bpd in 2017, as U.S. sanctions and a lack of capital obstruct operations. Some OPEC members expect the fall to accelerate in 2018, reaching at least 300,000 bpd. At a recent internal OPEC meeting, Venezuelan officials were asked to give a clearer picture of the country’s declining output. Saudi Arabia would not increase production in order to compensate for falling Venezuelan output. However, rising heavy oil production from Iraq, Canada and Brazil are offsetting the losses. As en example, Iraq has increased shipments of crude and condensate to India by 80,000 bpd this year as Venezuelan deliveries fell by 84,000 bpd. The second largest OPEC producer also has exported 201,000 bpd more oil to the United States this year through October as Venezuelan shipments dropped about 90,000 bpd.

The bunker indexes rose due to drop in crude supplies from Canada to the United States. TransCanada Corp’s 590,000 (bpd) Keystone pipeline, which links Alberta’s oil sands to U.S. refineries, remained shut after a 5,000-barrel leak in South Dakota last week. It seems, that the shut-in would support the prices due to fewer barrels going into Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point of the WTI contract. TransCanada Corp said it will cut deliveries by at least 85 percent Keystone crude pipeline through to the end of November.

U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 1.9 million barrels – 457.1 million barrels last week. U.S. crude oil imports averaged 7.9 million barrels per day last week, down by 25,000 barrels per day from the previous week. At the same time U.S. crude oil production was up last week by 13,000 bpd to 9.648 million bpd. The number of active oil rigs increased this week by 9. This happens as rising prices stimulate investments into oil production in the U.S. and it levels OPEC efforts to decrease oil glut.

OPEC’s meeting on November 30 and the deal extension expected as the single most important driver for fuel prices, as the effect of tensions in the Middle East begins to subside in the absence of any escalation. We expect bunker prices may have high volatility and change irregular next week. Further trend will be formed after OPEC’s meeting on November 30.

All prices stated in USD / Mton
All time high Brent = $147.50 (July 11, 2008)
All time high Light crude (WTI) = $147.27 (July 11, 2008)

Source: Port News

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