It is that time of year again where we try to forecast what the oil price will do over the coming 12 months. Last year I forecast $60 / bbl for Brent year ending 2017 and with Brent trading on $66.50 as I write I can conclude that I got lucky this year. My friend wagered on $78 and our bet this year was too close to call. My forecasting effort is based on trying to understand the supply, demand, storage, price dynamic and since this seemed to work pretty well this year I will repeat the exercise with some slight modifications.
I have some reservations about the methodology stemming from 1) US LTO production has unpredictable impact on supply elasticity and 2) OPEC + Russia et al are withholding ~ 1.8 M bpd from the market. In effect this group will determine the oil price in 2018. If the price goes too high they may open the taps a little to maintain the price they want, whatever that may be.
[The inset image shows “shale” fracking pads in the USA.]
No one has ever been able to confidently forecast the oil price that is subject to a vast array of socio-economic, geo-political and technology variables. The best we can do is to assemble some of the key data and to try and use our experience to draw some inferences about what may happen. Readers act upon the information presented here at their own risk.
Oil Price Narrative for 2018
- The oil market is now subject to production constraint amounting to ~1.7 Mbpd. This has led to rebalancing of supply and demand by the end of 2017. The Brent oil price has recovered strongly since the summer to close the year at around $66.50. Last year I forecast $60 / bbl for December 2017 and therefore came close.
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