Why Oil Prices Will Fall In 2019 And Beyond
The decision by the U.S. to grant waivers to eight countries, allowing them to continue to import oil from Iran, has helped ease the tension in the oil market. No longer are oil traders talking about $100 oil.
Iran’s oil exports stood at 1.7 million barrels per day in October and won’t fall to zero anytime soon. But that may not be the end of the story. “While consistent with our expectations, the granting of waivers does not imply that Iran exports will stabilize near current levels,” Goldman Sachs said in a research note on November 1. As more Iranian supply goes offline, the market will continue to tighten. Iran could lose nearly 600,000 bpd of exports by the end of the year, relative to October levels, the bank predicts.
“As a result, we still expect that the global oil market will be in deficit in 4Q18, leading to a strengthening in Brent timespreads,” Goldman said.
In fact, while everyone focuses on the short-term movements in oil prices, Goldman says it’s important to look at the futures curve.
“In our view, the most interesting takeaway from today’s oil price sell-off is the parallel shift in the crude forward curve. This is consistent with a move down on the oil cost curve as recent supply news (less Iran losses, more US and Saudi production) point to fewer high-cost marginal barrels needed in 2019,” the bank said.
That’s a bit of financial jargon, but the gist is that traders are suddenly less concerned that high-cost producers will be needed to supply the marginal barrel. Earlier this year, when Iran sanctions were announced and fears about Permian bottlenecks permeated into the market, oil futures prices rose sharply, with Brent five-year prices rising from $57 per barrel in May to $68 per barrel in September. This can be boiled down to investors believing that the oil market will need high-cost production in the years ahead to supply the marginal barrel, as low-cost producers are at their maximum levels.
However, over the last few weeks, the five-year Brent price fell back.