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Oil Climbs From One-Year Low With OPEC+ Split on Output Curbs


By Alex Longley and Sharon Cho

(Bloomberg) Oil rebounded back beyond $50 a barrel as OPEC+ entered a second day of discussions on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.Futures rose 3% in New York, reversing some of the dramatic collapse across the futures curve this week that saw the market fall into a bearish contango structure — indicating oversupply. The recovery reflects speculation that OPEC+ talks in Vienna may result in an emergency ministerial meeting on fresh output cuts, as well as reports of a possible coronavirus vaccine, which have lifted broader markets.

WTI heads for first gain in six sessions on Wednesday

Views differ on the potential impact of the deadly virus on demand, with BP Plc suggesting it could wipe out a third of global consumption growth this year, while OPEC’s own analysis indicates a modest drop of around 400,000 barrels a day for about six months.

“The short-term damage to oil demand from China has already occurred,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodities strategy at Saxo Bank A/S. “On that basis the upside potential may still depend on action from OPEC+.”

West Texas Intermediate for March delivery advanced $1.47, or 3%, to $51.08 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 8:38 a.m. local time. Brent for April settlement rose 2.8% to $55.45 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

In another bumpy day for the market’s structure the front of the Brent curve briefly flipped into backwardation, before sliding back into a bearish contango again.

Deeper Cuts

Saudi Arabia is pushing for a production cut of at least 500,000 barrels a day and even as much as twice that amount, according to some OPEC+ delegates. But the kingdom’s efforts have repeatedly run up against Russia’s reluctance to make deeper curbs.

Technical experts from the group meet again on Wednesday to analyze the impact of the crisis on oil demand, which may help determine whether the alliance convenes a ministerial meeting later this month.

Adding to demand concerns, a U.S. industry report showed an expansion in crude stockpiles last week. Figures from the American Petroleum Institute showed U.S. inventories rose by about 4.2 million barrels, according to people familiar with the data. Official government figures are due later on Wednesday.

Other oil-market news:
  • Oil traders and sellers are making more inquiries for supertankers to hoard crude at sea in the latest indication of the crushing impact the coronavirus is having on demand in the world’s biggest importer.
  • Technical gauges showed that Brent and WTI were the most oversold since 2018 at Tuesday’s close.
  • Greenpeace’s delivery today of 500 solar panels to BP’s London headquarters is a stark reminder of the climate challenges the company’s new boss Bernard Looney faces.


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