for Oil Prices
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OPEC’s strategy centers around restricting supply to the Atlantic basin since inventory data in the U.S. is the most timely and visible in the world. From February to early April, U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia have plummeted by about 462,000 b/d.
Big merchant traders like Vitol, Trafigura, and Glencore are expected to aggressively explore opportunities to grow in order to diversify their asset and customer bases and mitigate risk.
The growing confidence among hedge funds for higher prices and the expectation of a tighter market during the second half of the year make it more likely than not OPEC will continue to manipulate output.
If fundamentals weaken and oil market sentiment shifts, a sharp price correction is likely once investors liquidate their long positions.
While U.S. crude production hasn’t fully recovered, it has increased by more than 300,000 b/d since September to average just under 9 million barrels per day. As a result, the OPEC-fueled boom in prices has stalled for the time being.
The group has been adamant about putting together a united front to show that it will follow through with production cuts and counter critics who doubt its willingness or capability to do so.
The OPEC commission would examine whether the cartel’s behavior is designed to disadvantage U.S. oil producers and secure market power through anti-competitive behavior.
There are already signs that OPEC is committed to following through with pledges, even if indicators are contradictory and vague at the moment. The oil market has stabilized in the low-to-mid $50s, indicating the group has indeed put a floor under prices for the time being.
OPEC has certainly put a floor under the market, but it’s not yet clear how high members can push prices. Oil may simply trade in a range of $45-$60, with shale capping prices on the upside and the cartel's production cuts limiting the downside.