By Udeme Akpan
THE Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, has stressed that the estimated 4.8 per cent global growth will culminate in oil market stability this year.
This is even as the price of Bonny Light, Nigeria’s premium oil grade, dropped from $65.70 to $63.11, while OPEC Basket, and other crudes also dropped marginally over uncertainty about the outcome on the ongoing 49th Meeting of the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) (Videoconference).
However, speaking at the meeting, monitored by Vanguard, HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo,Secretary General, OPEC, stated: “The economic recovery is gaining momentum. This is reflected in our latest global growth estimate of 4.8% for 2021, up from the 4.4% projection we shared at our last meeting. This is a major turnaround from the grim conditions of 2020, with our most recent estimates showing the global economy plummeting by 3.9%.
“2021 is the Year of the Ox in China, a fitting symbol for this sturdy economy. China, which emerged from last year as the only major economy to remain in positive growth territory, continues to exceed expectations and is forecast to grow by 7.4% this year.
“India’s economy, which fell 8.2% in 2020, is now expected to expand by 7.5% in 2021. We had earlier expected these key economies to expand by just under 7% this year. Globally, historic levels of fiscal and momentary support continue to lubricate the economic engines and keep us in forwarding gear.
“Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell put to rest any idea of an immediate course reversal when it comes to supporting the US economy. This welcome news was followed by the G20 finance ministers and central bankers announcing on Friday [26 February] that they will continue to support a strong global recovery, and they lent support to the idea of boosting the International Monetary Fund’s firepower so it can further assist developing countries.”
The Secretary General, who noted that the actions of the United States will also impact positively on the market, stated: “The Biden Administration’s massive fiscal stimulus package, which passed its first legislative hurdle by winning US House approval last Saturday, continues to kindle hope for a sustained rebound. Against the backdrop of encouraging developments, oil demand remains on course to grow by 5.8 mb/d to just around 96 mb/d.
“The encouraging global economic developments and resilient demand in Asia are upside factors, especially beyond this quarter. Initial data from January this year show that crude oil processing in India rose to its highest level since November 2019, fuelled by rising economic and industrial activity. This positive regional outlook is underscored by the comments of Dharmendra Pradhan, India’s Minister of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Steel, at the recent IEA-IEF-OPEC Symposium on Energy Outlooks. Minister Pradham stated that his country’s energy demand is expected to rise by 3% per annum through to 2040, around three times the anticipated global demand increase.
“Our capable OPEC analysts will go into more detail about inventory levels in a moment. For now, let me say that the outlook continues to move in the right direction, and the data we have before us reflects improvements over last month’s report to this Committee. Preliminary data for January shows that OECD commercial stocks declined by around 11 mb. At 3 billion barrels, they were around 140 mb higher than the same time one year ago and about 126 mb above the average for 2015 to 2019.
“Turning to the latest figures on days of forwarding cover, OECD commercial stocks fell by 1.4 days from December to January, to 69.2 days, which is slightly lower than a year earlier, but 7.4 days above the pre-pandemic five-year average.
“The oil storage situation also appears to be aided by a refocus in the US tight oil sector from production to generating cash flow and rewarding investors. US crude production fell by more than 10% in mid-February following extreme winter in key producing states like Texas, helping to offset the rise in US crude stocks due to the significant drop in refinery utilization rates. Also regarding inventories, global short-term floating storage has fallen every month since October and stood at 142 mb in January this year, significantly less than the 250 mb reached in mid2020.”
He, however, added: “In a further sign of light on the horizon, the key benchmarks have risen steadily so far this year along with other commodities, in particular metals, and traders continue to take a strong positive position in oil. Since January, the futures price structure of all three key markets has been in sustained backwardation, an indication that the market is tightening and the rebalancing process is gaining speed. We have come a long way from a year ago. The days of GDP and oil demand figures being in the red because of the pandemic-induced shock appear to be behind us.”