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Oil jumps most since June on Canada output cuts, Opec+ pact
OIL was jolted higher by efforts across the globe to support prices as Saudi Arabia and Russia extended their pact to manage the market and Canada's largest producing province ordered unprecedented output curbs. Prices retreated slightly after Qatar said it was leaving Opec.
After their worst month in a decade, futures in New York and London advanced more than 5 per cent on Monday. Although Moscow and Riyadh have yet to confirm any fresh cuts, the agreement by the Russian and Saudi leaders over the weekend opens the door for a deal at the Opec meeting this week in Vienna. Alberta's decision to curtail production by 325,000 barrels a day put a rocket under oil's rally before Qatar's surprise announcement that it was leaving the producer group to focus on gas.
Prices got a further boost as Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping called a truce in their trade dispute, with the US president agreeing to postpone a planned tariff hike on Chinese goods for three months in return for greater purchases of American products. The pact prompted a rally in riskier assets, including oil, as fears over the economic fallout of the trade war ease.
Bullish investors are taking heart that the world's biggest producers are ready to take action after crude collapsed into a bear market on fears of a glut. Speculation over whether the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners will curb output has gripped the market in recent weeks, causing volatility to spike. While Opec delegates said the Saudi and Russian leaders have given political blessing for an agreement, questions remain, including the size of any potential cut.
"We may see prices recovering to US$60 a barrel this month and depending on how much and until when Opec's output curbs will continue, we might be heading towards US$70," Sungchil Will Yun, Seoul-based commodity analyst at HI Investment & Futures, said by phone. "Canada's production cuts are adding to the bullish sentiment in the oil market, removing concerns of oversupply that has so far been dampening prices."
West Texas Intermediate for January delivery climbed as much as US$2.92, or 5.7 per cent, to US$53.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its biggest intraday gain since June. The contract traded at US$53.51 at 3.37pm in Seoul, after losing 22 per cent last month. Total volume traded was more than triple the 100-day average.
Brent for February settlement rose as much as 5.3 per cent to US$62.60 a barrel on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark crude was at an US$8.59 premium to WTI for the same month. The January contract expired on Friday after declining 1.3 per cent.
Opec's president and the United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei said he was optimistic Opec+ will reach an agreement in Vienna over a cut in production for 2019. Technical teams are working on the level of the cuts necessary and the reference baseline for the reduction, he said.
Alberta's unprecedented curbs, announced on Sunday, are an effort to ease a crisis in the nation's energy industry. The province will reduce production of raw crude and bitumen by 8.7 per cent starting in January until the levels of excess oil in storage are drawn down. The reduction would then drop to 95,000 barrels a day until the end of next year at the latest.
The amount being cut is more than the total production of each of Opec's three smallest members: Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of Congo.
"It's always more impactful when everyone joins the fray," said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at Oanda Corp. "It definitely highlights just how critical a supply cut at this juncture is needed to stop oil prices for plummeting. It's a bullish set up all around."
Alberta's producers have been particularly battered by crude's slump amid surging oil-sands output, a shortage of pipeline space and heavy US refinery maintenance. The province is following the advice of companies like Cenovus Energy and Canadian Natural Resources, which have been hammered by record low prices for heavy Canadian crude.
Meanwhile, Qatar's energy minister said the country, which accounted for less than 2 per cent of Opec's production in October, would leave from January and thereafter would not be committed to any agreements by the group. BLOOMBERG