Investors’ long wait: A rebound in oil prices appears distant
- November 1, 2020: Vol. 7, Number 10

Investors’ long wait: A rebound in oil prices appears distant

by Mike Consol

If you’re waiting for the big rebound in oil prices, you might just need the patience of a tree. Oil prices are going to be dragging the bottom of the barrel for some time, if the September IEA Oil Market Report from the International Energy Agency is to be believed.

New data from the agency show global oil demand from January to July was 10.5 million barrels per day below the same period of 2019. As national lockdowns eased there was an initial sharp recovery in demand led by gasoline, but the curve has flattened out and it is becoming increasingly apparent COVID-19 will stay with us for some time.

India is but one example of a country with a continuing upsurge in COVID-19 cases, which the IEA attributes to that nation’s August drop in oil demand, the biggest month-on-month fall since April. Meanwhile, Chinese consumption, which had provided price support since April, slowed dramatically during September and October, leaving unsold barrels piling up, according to IEA.

As a result of the continuing effects of the virus, the IEA reduced its estimate for global demand growth in the second half of this year by 400,000 barrels per day. For 2020 as a whole, it forecasts oil consumption of 91.7 million barrels of oil per day, which sets the oil business back to its 2013 level and represents an 8.4 million-barrel-per-day decline when compared with 2019.

OPEC also revised its forecast for the year, estimating 2020 average demand will sink to 90.2 million barrels per day, while making downward revisions to its 2021 estimate.

Compounding the oil industry’s problems has been persistently weak refinery margins that have dampened the incentive to boost crude purchases. Increasing stockpiles of oil have forced producers to store their excess production on rented oil tankers.


Mike Consol ( is editor of Real Assets Adviser. Follow him on Twitter @mikeconsol to read his latest postings.

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