Rystad: With OPEC+ ready to unleash extra barrels, oil prices could fall into low $20s

Oil prices could fall into the low $20s for the global market to rebalance, as Rystad Energy expects an increase in global supplies in the next three months. OPEC+ countries are locked and loaded to add between 1.5 million and 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd), which Rystad estimates is their realistic short-term capability.

Illustration. Author: SP Mac

After the breakdown in OPEC+ negotiations and subsequent oil price free-fall, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have both signaled their intention to flood the market with additional oil production starting next month, Rystad said in a report released on Wednesday.

“Without OPEC+, the global oil market has lost its regulator and now only market mechanisms can dictate the balance between supply and demand,” said Espen Erlingsen, Rystad Energy’s Head of Upstream Research.

Rystad Energy estimates that global liquids demand was reduced by around 4 million bpd in February, primarily driven by the coronavirus. Over the next months, demand might be weakened by between 2 million to 4 million bpd due to the virus, Rystad said.

The cost of supply curves can be a good barometer to gauge how the market will react to various scenarios, says Erlingsen. Rystad Energy has updated its estimates of the short-run marginal (SRM) cost for the global liquids market.

For conventional fields, the SRM only includes transportation costs, effects of gross taxes and price differentials to Brent. All other costs, such as production cost and investments, are excluded, as Rystad Energy believes that these costs will not affect production levels from producing fields in the short term.

For tight oil assets, producing wells include the same costs as conventional fields, while the drilled uncompleted wells (DUC wells) also include the costs for completing the wells. For not yet drilled tight oil wells, both drilling and completion costs are included.

The shape of this curve is rather flat, as the SRM for the majority of the oil fields is below $5 per barrel. In fact, around 92 million bpd of production has an SRM below $5 per barrel. Total production with an SRM cost above $15 per barrel is around 4 million bpd.

Rystad Energy estimates that the total demand for liquids will be around 100 million bpd in June 2020, assuming no coronavirus impact.

The cost of supply curve moves to the right if OPEC+ increases production. The equilibrium price moves from around $25 per barrel (no additional OPEC+ supply) to $19 per barrel in the modest 1.5 million bpd increase scenario and $14 per barrel in the large 2 million bpd increase scenario.

If demand weakens by 2 million bpd in June (total demand of 98 million bpd), the equilibrium oil price moves from around $19 per barrel to around $11 per barrel in the modest OPEC+ increase scenario. If demand weakens by 4 million bpd in June (total demand of 96 million bpd), the equilibrium oil price moves down to around $9 per barrel in the modest OPEC+ increase scenario.

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