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Thursday, 17 June 21
FITCH RATINGS RAISES SHORT-TERM OIL AND GAS PRICE ASSUMPTIONS
Fitch RatingFitch Ratings has increased its 2021 and 2022 oil price assumptions for the Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmarks due to stronger year-to-date prices, a deficit in the market caused by a recovery in demand, and constrained supply from OPEC+ countries and heightened US capital discipline.
 
We have also raised our 2021 and 2022 Title Transfer Facility (TTF) gas price assumptions. Increases in spot gas prices are being driven by low gas inventories in storage, strong demand in Asia, and recovering demand in Europe. All price assumptions from 2023 are unchanged.
 
Oil demand has been improving this year and is likely to continue to grow in 2H21 if vaccination rollouts are successful and pandemic-related restrictions are eased. New breakouts, particularly of new Covid-19 variants, remain the main risk for the sustained recovery in demand. Output policies of OPEC+ countries are key to managing oil supply. OPEC+’s planned production increases, originally agreed in April and confirmed in June, will help meet growing demand, but will be insufficient to balance the market in 2H21.
 
OPEC+ has spare capacity of about 7 million barrels per day (bpd), which should be sufficient to cover increasing demand in the short term. There is some uncertainty over how quickly production could ramp up relative to the pace of the recovery in demand, which may lead to price volatility. Furthermore, lifting of the sanctions against Iran could add about 1.5 million bpd of oil, although we believe that OPEC+ could mitigate the impact of additional output from Iran by slowing production increases.
 
Despite a rise recently, oil production in the US is still about 1 million bpd lower than in early 2020. US shale producers shifted capital allocation priorities towards debt reduction and measured shareholder returns over growth, which will moderate potential increases of US shale output, at least in the short term. The number of active US oil rigs is only half the pre-pandemic level, but is still about twice as many as in summer 2020.
 
TTF price rises are supported by strong demand in Asia and recovering demand in Europe (reinforced by cold weather and restocking after the winter), while supply increases have been insufficient to meet recovering demand, leading to low gas inventories in storage. Surging carbon prices in Europe have also contributed to gas price growth.
 
However, we believe the price rally in 1H21 is temporary. Once gas storage facilities are gradually filled during 2H21 and 2022 to their normal levels, demand should subside, leaving the market oversupplied.
Source: Fitch Ratings


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