The OPEC Reference Basket rose for the second-consecutive month in August to average $49.60/b, representing a gain of $2.67/b or 6%. Year-to-date, the Basket was 30.9% higher at $49.73/b. Crude futures prices also saw gains with ICE Brent increasing 5.5% to $51.87/b and NYMEX WTI up 3.0% at $48.06/b. Year-to-date, crude futures prices were more than 20% higher. During the week of 29 August money managers cut WTI futures and options net long positions by 105,671 contracts to 147,303 lots, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said. Money managers slightly reduced Brent futures and options net length contracts by 1,296 to 416,551 lots during the same week.
World economic growth has been revised up for 2017 to 3.5% from 3.4%, while the growth forecast for 2018 remains unchanged at 3.4%. OECD growth has performed better-than-anticipated in the current year – particularly the Euro-zone and to some extent in the US – and is now forecast to grow by 2.2% in 2017 and 2.0% in 2018. India is expected to grow by 6.9% in 2017 and 7.5% in 2018. Brazil and Russia are both forecast to expand their recovery to 0.5% and 1.5% in 2017, respectively, followed by growth of 1.5% and 1.4% in 2018. China is expected to grow by 6.7% in 2017 and 6.3% in 2018.
World Oil Demand
World oil demand growth in 2017 is expected to rise by 1.42 mb/d after an upward revision of around 50 tb/d. The adjustment mainly reflects better-than-expected data from OECD region for the 2Q17, particularly OECD Americans and Europe, as well as China. In 2018, world oil demand is anticipated to grow by 1.35 mb/d, an increase of 70 tb/d from the previous report. This reflects higher growth expectations for OECD Europe and China.
World Oil Supply
Non-OPEC oil supply is expected to grow by 0.78 mb/d in 2017, unchanged from the last month due to offsetting revisions in Kazakhstan and US supply. In 2018, non-OPEC oil supply is forecast to grow by 1.0 mb/d, following a downward revision to Russia and Kazakhstan, totalling 0.1 mb/d. OPEC NGLs and non-conventional liquids production are seen averaging 6.49 mb/d in 2018, representing an increase of 0.18 mb/d, broadly in line with growth in the current year. In August, OPEC crude oil production decreased by 79 tb/d, according to secondary sources, to average 32.76 mb/d.
Product Markets and Refining Operations
Refinery margins in the Atlantic Basin strengthened in August. In the US, margins rose amid expectations for a product supply shortfall in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, coupled with already firm domestic demand, which supported product crack spreads. In Europe and Asia, product markets were supported by supply outages in the US, which encouraged higher arbitrage volumes, as well as healthy seasonal demand, which helped lift refinery margins.
Average spot freight rates in August followed the typical trend seen in the summer months, with a weakening on most reported routes. Dirty spot freight rates fell, influenced by high vessel availability, as new deliveries were reportedly added to the fleet, putting pressure on an already oversupplied tonnage market. Clean tanker rates declined on average, influenced by lower rates registered on the West of Suez, despite a temporary hike in rates in the US due to Hurricane Harvey.
Total OECD commercial oil stocks fell in July to stand at 3,002 mb. At this level, OECD commercial oil stocks were 195 mb above the latest five-year average. Crude and products stocks indicate surpluses of around 123 mb and 72 mb, respectively, above the seasonal norm. In terms of days of forward cover, OECD commercial stocks stood at 62.9 days in July, some 2.7 days higher than the latest five-year average.
Balance of Supply and Demand
Based on the current global oil supply/demand balance, OPEC crude in 2017 is estimated at 32.7 mb/d, around 0.5 mb/d higher than in 2016. Similarly, OPEC crude in 2018 is estimated at 32.8 mb/d, about 0.2 mb/d higher than in 2017.