Brent crude could still drop to $10 a barrel and stay there in Q2: IHS Markit

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KEY POINTS
  • Oil prices rallied Thursday on the possibility of a deal to cut production, but Victor Shum of IHS Markit said there’s “little chance” that any OPEC+ deal could save the market.
  • Oil futures have fallen more than 50% since the beginning of the year amid a Saudi-Russia price war and demand destruction because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Shum said he considers it “highly unlikely that Saudi Arabia will agree to a unilateral massive cut or even a bilateral cut with Russia,” but free market forces will compel producers to reduce output when the world runs out of crude oil storage.

Little chance that an OPEC+ deal will save oil from the virus attack: IHS Markit
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Oil prices on Thursday rallied more than 20% following reports of a possible deal to cut production by an enormous 10 million barrels per day, but one analyst is still predicting that Brent crude will sink to $10 a barrel.

The benchmark Brent crude was trading up 9.92% at $32.91 on Friday afternoon in Asia, while West Texas Intermediate gained 4.82% at $26.54.

“We are projecting that Brent is going to drop to around $10 a barrel in April and will likely stay at that level in the second quarter,” said Victor Shum, vice president of energy consulting at IHS Markit.

“There is little chance of any OPEC+ deal that’s going to save the crude oil market from the attack of the COVID-19,” he told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Friday. “I think any talk of big cuts is probably too little, too late.”

Oil futures have fallen more than 50% since the beginning of the year amid a Saudi-Russia price war and demand destruction because of the coronavirus pandemic.

CH 20200402_oil_volatility_since_march_6.png

U.S. President Donald Trump attempted to play “moderator” between Saudi Arabia and Russia, and said on Thursday that he was expecting a cut of 10 million bpd to 15 million bpd. Riyadh called for an emergency meeting of OPEC and its allies, which was supported by Iraq, according to Reuters reports.

Still, Shum said, given that both sides produce around 10 million bpd to 11 million bpd, he considers it “highly unlikely that Saudi Arabia will agree to a unilateral massive cut or even a bilateral cut with Russia.”

“Are we talking about asking Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut 50% or more of their production? That seems incredible,” he said. Trump told reporters that he has not offered to lower American oil output.

Chart: World oil market share 200401 Asia

Riyadh could, however, as the G-20 chair for the year, try to put together a coordinated cut that includes other oil-producing countries such as Canada.

“We need every producer to come in to agree to a cut and have the cuts enforced,” Shum said. “That is a tall order in the limited time we have before the world runs out of crude oil storage.”

Analysts have predicted the ceiling will be reached in May or June. That’s when market forces will compel producers to lower output, he said.

With “no real signs” that Saudi Arabia and Russia have agreed to put aside their differences, it’s going to be “tough,” he added. “I imagine it will be a brutal, unadulterated market fight and the weak producers will have to shut in their production, in particular in the U.S. shale oil sector.”

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