Oil and Gas

Oil shortages could push prices all the way to $80, commodities expert says

Key Points
  • "The fundamentals are changing and the market is rebalancing," Jodie Gunzberg said.
  • Brent closed as $59.02 per barrel on Monday, its highest since July 2015.
Hurricane Harvey a catalyst for refinery disruption: S&P Dow Jones Indices

A recent rise for the price of oil could be set to continue, according to one commodities analyst, who believes there is now a "real rebalancing" in the market.

"The fundamentals are changing and the market is rebalancing," Jodie Gunzberg, head of commodity and real asset indices at S&P Dow Jones Indices, told CNBC Wednesday.

This support is coming from several sources, including OPEC whose members are complying with production cuts and China where there is demand growth, according to Gunzberg.

"I think Hurricane Harvey really gave (oil) a boost, it was a catalyst for some of the disruptions in the refineries," she added. "We are seeing real rebalancing in the oil market."

"When we look at the index data, we can see the price could move even as high as $80 to $85 (a barrel). Not immediately, but with their structural backwardation and shortages in the market, you just can't replenish it overnight," she said.

A backwardation occurs when futures contracts expiring at later dates are trading lower than current prices.

Brent closed as $59.02 per barrel on Monday, its highest since July 2015 and Gunzberg noted that Brent had entered a technical bull market.

A pumpjack (oil derrick) and oil refinery in Seminole, West Texas.
David Sucsy | Getty Images

"It is now in a bull market, Brent is up about 30 percent since June and we also had WTI up 23 percent," she added.


Comments calling the oil market balanced are likely to be welcomed by OPEC. However, it is premature for the organization to declare victory, warns Spencer Welch, director of oil markets and downstream for research group IHS.

"The third quarter, which has highest demand, always makes oil market look healthiest. Lower demand in fourth and first quarters is still a risk, and some price weakness may return," he told CNBC via email.

"But there is no denying that supply cuts are finally having some effect and the oil market has the highest level of optimism in three years."

Gunzberg also addressed concerns that shale oil production may ramp up now prices are stronger, which would increase supply and once again drag on the price.

"We have seen some structural backwardation where there are shortages and once there are shortages it's really hard to replenish," she explained.

"Whether we can ramp up quick enough, that's a big question. Probably not so fast."

Oil prices pulled back on Wednesday. Brent crude was down 47 cents at $57.97 per barrel, while WTI crude was down 8 cents to $51.80. by around 1:00 p.m. London time.