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Commodity Trader Trafigura Sees Upside Risk For Oil Prices

Crude oil prices could be vulnerable to the upside as the market is still tight, Ben Luckock, Co-Head of Oil Trading at trading giant Trafigura, said on Monday.

“The markets are probably a bit too relaxed,” Luckock said at the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC) by S&P Global Commodity Insights, as carried by Reuters.    

The $72 to $88 per barrel range is the fair price for oil, he said, but added that the current supply tightness “leaves us vulnerable” to further rises in crude oil prices.

Early on Monday in Asia trade, both benchmarks were trading close to their Friday settlement at over $85 a barrel WTI Crude and more than $88.50 per barrel Brent Crude. These levels are close to the highest prices so far this year reached on September 1.

There could be “a little bit more to come” in terms of Fed rate hikes, but the U.S. economy has been “doing incredibly well” through the interest rate hikes so far, Trafigura’s Luckock told the APPEC event.

Trafigura and all other market participants and traders will be looking at Russia’s announcement this week on what the OPEC+ deal will be and whether Moscow will continue to cut supply to the market, according to Luckock.

The market expects that the Saudis will announce a further extension of the cuts into October. In addition, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said last week that Moscow would disclose this week the parameters of the OPEC+ deal.

The issue with Russian supply is the credibility of Russia’s pledges, considering that it is difficult to track Moscow’s exports, Trafigura’s Luckock said.

“I guess the issue a little bit with the Russians has always been the credibility of the cuts,” Luckock noted.

During the same APPEC event, Russell Hardy, CEO of the world’s biggest independent oil trader, Vitol, said that the tight oil market could see some reprieve in the next two months as refineries plan maintenance, but that sour crude supply would remain tight.    

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on September 04 2023 said:
    It is the fundamental of the global oil market and not OPEC+ or global oil traders that determine the direction of oil prices. And these fundamentals are pointing to higher prices with Brent crude soon breaking through $90 a barrel and probably even touching $100 before the end of this year.

    And while OPEC+ can always play a supporting role through their oil cutting production, it can never be able to set the price it wants.

    Other than the robust market fundamentals, the only bullish factor behind the surge of prices is China whose economy has grown most this year among the major economies of the world and which has been the driving force behind the global economy.

    The Saudi voluntary production cut of 1.0 million barrels a day (mbd) announced in June for July (later extended to August and September and could possibly be extended to October), has nothing to do with the market and everything to do with production difficulties, Saudi production is falling because of depletion and aging giant oilfields.

    And while Russia may decide to extend its production cut of 500,000 barrels a day (b/d) beyond September, its exports of crude and petroleum products have hardly declined simply because the cut was offset by rising taxes on domestic products thus reducing domestic consumption and enabling exports to remain virtually unchanged.

    Global oil traders are just bystanders in the market. Their role is limited to responding to changes in the market. They are unable to influence prices and supplies.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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