Energy Future

Prepare for $95 oil in 2015: HSBC

In the latest contribution to the heated debate over the price of oil, HSBC has trimmed its forecast for Brent crude next year by $5, but added that it was not convinced of persistent weakness throughout 2015.

HSBC cut its Brent crude price assumption for the full year next year to $90, down from $95, but predicted that short-term price pressure will "sow the seeds" for higher prices in the longer term.

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Oil traders on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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The bank has also lowered its Brent price forecast for the fourth quarter of this year from $92 to $85, and sees the oil price climbing $5 a quarter in 2015 to end the year at around $95.

The forecast comes at odds with a number of other market predictions, including that of the International Energy Agency, which said prices could fall further in 2015 after declining to their lowest levels since 2010 below $80 per barrel.

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"While there has been some speculation that the high cost of unconventional oil production might set a new equilibrium for Brent prices in the $80 to $90 range, supply/demand balances suggest that the price rout has yet to run its course," the IEA said last week in its monthly oil market report.

HSBC said significant risks remain that could cause the price of oil to rise and fall, describing the annual Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting next week as "pivotal".

"Without a production cut from OPEC, the market is set to remain materially oversupplied in 2015—potentially to the tune of over 1 million barrels per day," said HSBC analyst led by Gordon Gray.

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The oil price plunged below $80 last week on fears that members of the OPEC oil exporting countries, which control about 40 percent of world oil export, are not going to cut production.

But a "clear, convincing agreement" from OPEC to cut production would lead to a price recovery—potentially into the low to mid $90's, Gray said, but added that this move was not generally expected by the market.

Oil prices have fallen over 30 percent from the highs of mid-June. HSBC said the descent in the oil price was a result of a "perfect storm" of weakening global demand, surging supply from North America, rising OPEC output and a consistently strong U.S. dollar.

Capital Economics said the recent drop in oil prices looks set to tip euro zone CPI inflation into negative territory over the coming months, increasing the risk of a prolonged and damaging bout of deflation.

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The group's chief European economist Jonathan Loynes said it is "quite possible" that oil prices will fall further in the near-term, which could nudge inflation below zero.

"There is a very plausible downside scenario, in which oil prices drop back towards 2009 levels and core inflation eases further. That would produce a deeper and longer lasting bout of deflation, with potentially devastating effects on the currency union's economy," Loynes added.