Resurgent pandemic brings new headwinds for the oil market

With India the world’s third-biggest oil market, the economic slowdown driven by the pandemic will hit oil prices.

A slowing Indian economy is a new headwind for oil prices. The country is the world’s third-biggest oil market, importing more than $100bn of the fuel in 2019. Before Covid-19, world oil consumption was around 100 million barrels per day (mbpd). That figure tumbled by 8.7mbpd last year, according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA thinks global demand will recover by 5.7mbpd this year, says Robert Perkins of S&P Global. The agency has raised its forecasts because of strong rebounds in China and the US. 

Oil prices have enjoyed a strong start to 2021, with Brent crude rising by about 27% so far to trade at $66 a barrel this week. That is thanks in large part to supply curbs agreed by the Opec+ cartel of producers, of which Saudi Arabia and Russia are the key members. 

Opec+ has been curbing its output by millions of barrels a day in order to bolster prices. The stronger demand outlook had enabled the group to relax output curbs gradually, says Julian Lee on Bloomberg. The group had been planning to add an extra 2.14mbpd to global markets by July. 

Now India could put a spanner in the works. With the streets of New Delhi and Mumbai falling “eerily quiet” once more, local diesel and petrol consumption looks poised to fall by as much as 20% month-on-month. Japan, the world’s fourth-biggest oil importer, has also declared a state of emergency in the face of rising Covid-19 cases.  

 Mobility data shows that the recovery in oil demand is “uneven”, say Martijn Rats and Amy Sergeant in a Morgan Stanley note. Strength in the US, the UK and Israel is offset by weakness in Europe, India and Brazil. Nevertheless, the investment bank still thinks that oil demand will pick up over the summer. Brent crude looks likely to trade in the $65-$70 a barrel range until the end of the year.

Recommended

Will the government’s green plans hit the price of your home?
House prices

Will the government’s green plans hit the price of your home?

UK house prices are still rising fast. But the government’s plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions could halt that – for some of us, at least. John S…
21 Oct 2021
If you want to get exposure to bitcoin, I have this great idea for you
Bitcoin & crypto

If you want to get exposure to bitcoin, I have this great idea for you

As bitcoin climbs to new highs, you can now buy a bitcoin ETF. But if you really want to get some exposure to bitcoin, there’s a much better way, says…
20 Oct 2021
Too embarrassed to ask: what is a dividend yield?
Too embarrassed to ask

Too embarrassed to ask: what is a dividend yield?

Learn what a dividend yield is and what it can tell investors about a company in MoneyWeek's latest “too embarrassed to ask” video.
19 Oct 2021
Index tracker funds won't shield your wealth from inflation – here's why
Investment strategy

Index tracker funds won't shield your wealth from inflation – here's why

If you want your portfolio to survive in an inflationary world, a broad index-tracker fund won’t cut it. You need to be a lot more selective than that…
19 Oct 2021

Most Popular

How to invest as we move to a hydrogen economy
Energy

How to invest as we move to a hydrogen economy

The government has started to roll out its plans for switching us over from fossil fuels to hydrogen and renewable energy. Should investors buy in? St…
8 Oct 2021
How to invest in SMRs – the future of green energy
Energy

How to invest in SMRs – the future of green energy

The UK’s electricity supply needs to be more robust for days when the wind doesn’t blow. We need nuclear power, says Dominic Frisby. And the future of…
6 Oct 2021
Why the world’s most important economic data release has unnerved markets
US Economy

Why the world’s most important economic data release has unnerved markets

The US added only 194,000 jobs in September, far shorter than the 500,000 that were expected. John Stepek explains why markets didn't react as they no…
11 Oct 2021