Futures & Commodities

Brent crude will need to work through oversupply issues despite the OPEC+ output cut, says analyst

Key Points
  • Brent crude still needs to work through its oversupply issues before it can break above its current price range between $40 and $50 per barrel, argues Westwood Global Energy Group's Thom Payne.
  • Payne's comments came after a recent agreement by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its oil-producing allies to extend a historic oil production cut.
  • Oil prices have seen a partial recovery since seeing a plunge in April due to several concerns — ranging from uncertainty over demand due to the coronavirus pandemic that was spreading rapidly, to issues with crude oversupply.
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Oil storage glut could ease by mid-2021 at the earliest: Westwood Global Energy

Brent crude needs to work through its oversupply issues before it can punch through its current price range of between $40 and $50 per barrel, according to Thom Payne, director at Westwood Global Energy Group.

That's despite the latest agreement by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its oil-producing allies to extend a historic oil production cut until the end of July. 

The alliance cut production by 9.7 million barrels per day at the start of May 1, and the cuts — which have helped push up crude prices in the last two months — was initially set to decline on July 1.

"If you take February to May, you've got an average built position, oversupply of 14 million barrels a day. So we've effectively built about 2 billion barrels of additional storage," Payne told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Monday.

"We definitely need to drain that before we can see prices move materially above that kind of ($40 to $50) price structure," Payne said.

His comments came after the group, known collectively as OPEC+, on Saturday agreed to extend its record oil production cut for another month as it seeks to balance the global oil market.

Commenting on the recent OPEC+ agreement, JPMorgan's Head of Asia Pacific Commodities Research, Scott Darling, said: "I'd take some positives out of this — you've got compliance."

"I think you've also got now monitoring on a month-by-month basis and it also feels there's not just near-term views on oil but gradually a sort of longer-term vision around where they want oil to go," he added.

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JPMorgan sees Brent crude at $40 per barrel this year

Oil prices have seen a partial recovery since seeing a plunge in April due to several concerns — ranging from uncertainty over demand due to the coronavirus pandemic that was spreading rapidly, to issues with crude oversupply.

In the afternoon of Asian trading hours on Monday, international benchmark Brent rose 1.49% to trade at $42.93 per barrel. Similarly, U.S. crude futures gained 1.34% to trade at $40.08 per barrel.

Looking ahead, Payne from Westwood Global said: "What's likely to happen is that the oil markets move to a net draw or undersupply position by around July, August of this year." This would be "very supportive" of the current $40-50 per barrel price range for Brent, he added. That's assuming that the demand scenario plays out in line with the general consensus and OPEC achieves 100% compliance — a feat Payne admits is "probably a little bit optimistic."

For his part, Darling said that JPMorgan sees Brent at $40 dollar per barrel this year and $47 per barrel for next year.

— CNBC's Pippa Stevens contributed to this report.

Correction: This article was updated to reflect that Thom Payne said there was an average oversupply of 14 million barrels a day from February to May. An earlier version of the story misstated the number.