Oil prices are falling and analysts and market players are as eager as ever to explain the decline in accordance with their own bullish or bearish leanings. It’s a natural correction that was only to be expected after the buildup of long bets on crude oil and oil product futures, the bulls insist. It’s the start of a trend, thanks to the major jump in U.S. production, the bears counter. Now, data from physical oil markets has surfaced that supports the bears’ stance.
North Sea Forties, Russian Urals, WTI, and Atlantic diesel have all fallen to their lowest in several months, Reuters reports, citing commodity traders and analysts. These are physical markets — the markets where actual oil is taken from one place and shipped to another to be refined into fuel and other products, as opposed to the speculative futures market. If the physical market points down, chances are the price drop — 15 percent in three weeks — is not just a blip, as OPEC’s Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo said earlier this week.
Interestingly enough, Barkindo also said he had Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word that Russia will not flood the market with oil while the cut deal still holds. The reason this statement is interesting is that it is the latest example of OPEC’s tendency towards upbeat comments that have little substance, unlike the physical oil market data.
RBC Capital Markets’ Michael Tran told Reuters that, “Physical markets do not lie. If regional areas of oversupply cannot find pockets of demand, prices will decline. Atlantic Basin crudes are the barometer for the health of the global oil market since the region is the first to reflect looser fundamentals. Struggling North Sea physical crudes like Brent, Forties, and Ekofisk suggest that barrels are having difficulty finding buyers.”
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