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Oil Market Report - November 2021


Crude oil prices rallied in October 2021, mainly driven by worries about the supply turmoil in the Europe’s and Asia’s power sector ahead of the winter season, and soaring energy prices, particularly for gas and coal, to historically high levels in Europe and Asia. Investors’ sentiment turned bullish on higher oil demand growth in the winter months from gas to oil switching, particularly in power generation and the refining and petrochemical sectors. Industry sources estimated that surging natural gas prices could boost oil demand by 0.5 mln bbl / d on average from September 2021 through 1Q22. This came amid strong global oil supply and demand fundamentals and continued oil market rebalancing, while OECD commercial oil stocks fell further in September 2021 to below the 2016–2020 average level. The ICE Brent front-month futures contract rose by $8.87, or +11.8% MoM, in October 2021 to average $83.75 / bbl, and NYMEX WTI increased by $9.68, or +13.5% MoM, to average $81.22 / bbl. As for year-to-date dynamics, ICE Brent was $27.10, or +63.9%, higher at $69.52 / b, while NYMEX WTI was higher by $28.32, or +73.8%, at $66.67/b, compared to the same period a year earlier.

However, oil prices were capped by concerns about global economic growth with the IMF revising lower its forecast, while data showed US industrial output falling the most in seven months in September 2021. The strengthening US dollar value against a basket of other major currencies in October also contributed to limiting the oil price rise. Furthermore, official data showed lower China crude oil imports in September, and US crude oil stocks rose in October from September’s low levels, specifically in the Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts 3 (PADD 3). The resurgence of lockdowns in Eastern Europe and Russia due to rising COVID-19 cases, as well as soaring cases in Germany in November to their highest level raised further concerns about near-term oil demand and weighed on oil prices. As preliminary data and satellite observations of stock changes in November 2021 suggested the tide began to turn out, oil market drivers also had begun to shift and benchmark crude prices eased somewhat as a result, relative to their October highs. The buildup of a risk-off sentiment on financial markets in general, particularly after recent headlines of higher-than-expected US inflation number, in the middle of the month also weighed on oil prices. So, both ICE Brent and NYMEX WTI benchmarks ended the period under report lower. The ICE Brent front-month futures contract declined since October 20, 2021 by $3.78 / bbl, or -4.4%, and the NYMEX WTI nearest contract contracted by $4.27 / bbl, or -5.1% over the same period of time.

In October 2021, total crude oil output by the states participating in the OPEC continued to grow on a monthly basis, in accordance with the OPEC+ policy of gradual reduction of the COVID-related supply cuts, though at a slower pace. This time it increased by another 140 thsd bbl / d in comparison to the previous month, or +0.5% MoM, comparing to the agreed OPEC+ monthly adjustment of +400 thsd bbl / d. Total cartel’s oil production ramped up for consequent 2 quarters and, in October 2021, reached its new maximum level since April 2020 of 27.58 mln bbl / d. In annual terms, the growth of total OPEC crude oil production in October 2021, evidently, again was much more impressive than the expansion on a monthly basis. The output jumped by 2.93 mln bb/ d in contrast to one year ago level, or +11.9% YoY. The output of crude oil in the OPEC as a whole kept on to grow in yearly terms throughout the 6th consequent month. In absolute terms, the strongest rise of crude oil production in October 2021 was observed in Saudi Arabia. The output in the kingdom exhibited an expansion of 120 thsd bbl / d relative to the month prior, or +1.2% MoM. Moreover, it increased within 2 quarters in a row and in October 2021 came up its maximum volume since April 2020 equal to 9.81 mln bbl / d. On the other hand, the most considerable monthly drop of crude oil output in October was experienced in Angola, where the production went down by 70 thsd bbl / d as compared to September, or almost -6.0% MoM. Moreover, the production ran to its record low of just 1.10 mln bbl / d on record.

Notwithstanding hopes of some market participants regarding possible acceleration of OPEC+ upward production adjustment process due to tight situation on prompt oil and petroleum products markets, the 22nd OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting that was held on November 4, 2021, didn’t bring any news and was as nonevent as the previous two meeting. So, the Meeting reaffirmed its earlier decisions and reconfirmed the production adjustment plan and the monthly production adjustment mechanism, as well as the decision to adjust upward the monthly overall production by 0.4 mln bbl / d for the month of December 2021, as per the attached schedule. Also, the Meeting again reiterated the critical importance of adhering to full conformity and to the compensation mechanism taking advantage of the extension of the compensation period until the end of December 2021. The next 23rd OPEC+ meeting is scheduled for December 2, 2021.

Global production of oil continued its growth in October 2021 on a monthly basis for the 2nd month in a row and expanded by another 1.77 mln bbl / d relative to the volume of September, or +1.8% MoM. The volume of the output rose to its highest mark since April 2020 and went close to the level of 99.0 mln bbl / d. In annual terms, global oil production also demonstrated a healthy growth within the month under review. Comparing to the level of October 2020, it built up by more than 7.0 mln bbl / d, or impressive +7.7% YoY. October 2021 was the 7th consequent month of global oil production expansion on an annual basis. Nevertheless, the global output still was approximately lower in the month under review than it was before the start of the pandemic, though the gap narrowed to just 1.5 mln bbl / d. In contrast to the pandemic through, recorded in May-June of 2020, the production around the globe was higher in October 2021 by 10.2 mln bbl / d, or +11.6%. The strongest monthly growth of oil production in October 2021 was recorded in the USA. The output of oil in the country jumped by 967 thsd / d in comparison with the volume of September 2021, or impressive +5.2% MoM, as weather-related disruptions were finally fixed. The production came up its maximum value since March 2020 equal to 19.42 mln bbl / d. However, even more overwhelming monthly output growth in October 2021 was achieved in Norway. The extraction of oil in this country went up by 145 thsd bbl / d, or +7.1% MoM. Moreover, the production in Norway skyrocketed to the highest score throughout preceding 10 years, equal to nearly 2.2 mln bbl / d. Canada also exhibited a strong rise of its oil production in October 2021 pound for pound the volume of September 2021. To be more precise, the production in Canada built up by 252 thsd bbl / d, or +4.6% MoM. On the other hand, the most significant fall of oil production in the month under review was recorded in Brazil. The oil output slid down by 3.6% MoM, or -155 thsd bbl / d, the worst monthly performance among all non-OPEC oil-producing states, although it was contributed mainly to the seasonal factor.

According to the weekly US DOE data, the primary oil production, measured as the sum of crude oil output and NGLs production, also skyrocketed in the USA in October 2021 by a sizeable amount of 906 thsd bbl / d in contrast to the month prior, or impressive +5.7% MoM. The monthly expansion rate of the output during the month exceeded the threshold of +2.0 SD of growth rates on record and was equal to +2.37 SD. The main reason behind this explosive growth of the output was trivial, as weather-related disruptions were repaired as no more hurricanes hit the Gulf of Mexico during the month under review. So, the primary oil production in the USA just returned in October 2021 back to its two-month ago level, when the figure reached its highest mark over preceding 16 months. Nevertheless, the volume of the primary oil production in the USA in October 2021 was 1.65 mln bbl / d, or 12.7%, lower comparing to the pre-pandemic level of February 2020. On a year-over-year basis, the primary oil production in the USA also grew up considerably comparing to one year ago. The annual expansion was equal to 961 thsd bbl / d, or +6.1% YoY. The output in the USA continued to grow annually in the course of consequent 6 months.

Total shale oil output continued to increase in the USA in October 2021 on a monthly basis, for the 8th consequent month. This time, it grew up by 77 thsd bbl / d in contrast to September 2021, or +0.9% MoM, and reached the new maximum since March 2020 of 8.6 mln bbl / d. It is worthwhile to remind that shale oil production in the USA wasn’t affected by poor weather conditions during the month of September, so it proceeded to expand in September 2021 as well, contrarily to the overall primary oil output in the country. As for a yearly basis, total production of shale oil in the USA again showed a more robust growth and expanded by 633 thsd bbl / d, or +7.9% YoY, the 6th month of expansion in annual terms in a row. The major growth of shale oil production in the USA in October 2021 was attributed mainly to the expansion of output in just two shale oil deposits, namely Permian and Niobrara. The output on the deposit of Permian experienced an increase of 1.2% MoM, or +58 thsd bbl / d relative to the month prior. On a month-over-month basis, the output on Permian field kept on to go up throughout consequent 8 months and grew to its maximum mark of slightly above 5.0 mln bbl / d over the whole history of observations. But in relative terms, the more considerable expansion of shale oil output in the month under review was recorded in Niobrara. The production on the field showed a monthly rise of 16 thsd bbl / d, or +2.6% MoM. The output of shale oil in Niobrara increased for consequent 4 months and expanded to its maximum score of 637 thsd bbl / d since August 2020.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) didn’t release new quarterly data on demand for crude oil and petroleum product around the world. However, according to the most recent IEA monthly report, global oil demand is continued strengthening due to robust gasoline consumption and increasing international travel as more countries re-open their borders. Refinery activity is picking up after autumn maintenance, while end-user demand is on track to strengthen further as more countries open up to international travel, mobility levels increase and vaccination campaigns gather pace. Nevertheless, new Northern Hemisphere COVID-19 outbreaks, slightly weaker industrial activity and higher oil prices will temper gains in the foreseeable future, leaving IEA forecast for oil demand growth largely unchanged from its last month report at 5.5 mln bbl / d for 2021 and 3.4 mln bbl / d in 2022.

Total commercial stocks of crude oil and petroleum products in the OECD proceeded to deplete in August 2021 as against the previous month for the 3rd month in a row and this time contracted by 26.0 mln bbl / d, or -0.9% MoM. The inventories dropped to their new lowest level since June 2018 and, therefore, sank even deeper relative their pre-pandemic levels of early 2020. In annual terms, the volume of total commercial stocks of crude oil and petroleum products in OECD states as a whole obviously again was much lower comparing to August 2021. The drop was equal to sizeable 396.0 mln bbl, or -12.3% YoY, a marginally slower decline than in the previous month. According the preliminary IEA assessments, OECD total crude oil and petroleum products stocks continued to go down in September 2021 as well and plunged by another 51 mln bbl, with crude oil and middle distillate holdings accounting for most of the declines. In terms of regions, Europe led the draw-down. At 2.762 bn bbl, total OECD industry stocks stood 250 mln bbl below the five-year average and at their lowest level since the start of 2015. However, early data for October 2021 point to a marginal stock build.

Total stockpiles of crude oil and petroleum products in the USA barely changed in October 2021 as compared to the month prior after 6 months of decline in row. To be more precise, the volume of the stocks marginally increased within the month by 0.5 mln bbl in contrast to September 2021, or insignificant +0.1% MoM. Roughly speaking, as of the end of the month under review, the stockpiles remained at their lowest level over recent 3 years, slightly above 770 mln bbl. But, in annual terms, total inventories of crude oil and petroleum products in the USA in October 2021 again were much lower than they were one year ago, in October 2020. This time, the yearly drop was equal to 98.3 mln bbl, or -12.7% YoY. The inventories continued to narrow in yearly terms for 7 months in a row. Recall that total inventories of crude oil and oil products in the USA reached their all-time high in May-June of 2020, when the volume of the stocks was equal to 964 mln bbl. Relative to that level the inventories were lower in October 2021by nearly 194 mln bbl, or more than 20%.

Crude oil inventories in the Cushing storage in Oklahoma (the basis for NYMEX WTI crude oil futures) continued its downward movement in October 2021 for the 12th consequent month. The decline accelerated within the month. So, the volume of the stocks dropped in October 2021 by as much as 7.6 mln bbl, or dangerous -22.2% MoM, and fell to its new lowest level since September 2018 equal to 26.4 mln bbl. It was the first time since the start of the pandemic, when the volume of crude oil inventories in Cushing sank below the lower border of the range for this month of a year over last 5 years. If the tendency is intact for some more months, soon there will be a mirror situation to one that was observed in April 2020, when negative settle prices for WTI crude oil futures were observed. On an annual basis, crude oil inventories in Cushing obviously delivered a much steeper drop and crumbled by 34.5 mln bbl relative to one year ago level, or astonishing -56.6% YoY. It has become the new deepest yearly drop of the inventories throughout recent 3 years. Also, October 2021 was the 7th month in a row of Cushing stocks depletion in yearly terms.

The volume of total floating inventories of crude oil around the globe continued to expand on a monthly basis in October 2021 for the 4th month in a row. This time, the growth was lower than in preceding months equal to 1.2 mln bbl in contrast to September 2021, or +1.3% MoM. Nevertheless, the stockpiles climbed to its new highest level over last 5 months. The volume of the stocks remained well above the average level for the month of a year over last 5 years for the 3rd consequent month. Meanwhile, global floating inventories of crude oil again were much lower in October 2021 in annual terms. The yearly drop was equal to 42.3 mln bbl, comparing to the level of October 2020, or solid -31.7% YoY. October was the 7th month of decline in yearly terms in a row. Despite to the minor monthly change of the overall figure, dynamics of crude oil floating inventories in different regions in October 2021 was more volatile. Thus, the most significant increase of crude oil stockpiles on an absolute basis during the month under review was registered in Asia, where the inventories in the region ramped up by 2.5 mln bbl comparing to one month ago level, or +4.1% MoM. The most formidable decline of floating stockpiles of crude oil in October 2021 was observed in the Middle East Gulf, where the stocks demonstrated a decrease of 3.1 mln bbl as against the previous month, or -35.9% MoM.

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