Investing.com - Saudi Arabia is truly “balancing” the oil market by preparing to ship full volumes required by its North Asian customers, notwithstanding its output cuts — an act that’s costing it in price-per-barrel.
Crude prices fell almost 3% on Wednesday, hanging on to just little of Monday’s 4% surge that came on the back of supply seizure fears related to the latest fighting in the Middle East.
New York-traded West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, crude for delivery in November settled down $2.48, or 2.9%, at $83.49 per barrel, after hitting a session low of $83.14. The drop adds to Tuesday’s 0.5% decline in the US crude benchmark.
“Going into the new trading day, moving below $82.35 would increase the bearish bias with the next support (being) at the low (of) last week, at $81.56,” markets’ analyst Greg Michalowski said in a posting on the ForexLive forum.
London-traded Brent crude for the most-active December contract settled down $1.83, or 2.1%, at $86.48 after an intraday bottom of $85.23. The global crude benchmark finished the previous session down 0.6%.
The market had been on weak footing since Tuesday on signs it may have run up too much, too fast without proof that the counterstrikes between Israeli and Palestine forces — ignited by Saturday’s initial attacks carried out by Palestine militant group Hamas — will materially impact oil shipped from the region.
While producer group OPEC+ had been quick to assure that its output cuts would continue — with Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman making that pledge on Sunday itself and Russian President Vladimir Putin reinforcing it on Wednesday — traders remained unconvinced of the need to send crude prices any higher.
Saudis assure full cargoes required by North Asia
Their resolve was strengthened after Reuters reported that state oil firm Saudi Aramco (TADAWUL:2222) told at least four refiners in North Asia that it would supply them with the full contractual volumes nominated for November.
That seemed to challenge the notion that Saudi priority was about keeping the market tight, not assuring that supplies were generously available as needed.
“The party line on this is that supply and demand for Saudi oil is stable despite the high prices now, given that Saudi OSP itself has been raised,” John Kilduff, partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital, said, referring to the kingdom’s official selling price for its Arab Light crude.
“What the market sees instead is Saudi oil readily available to anyone outside of the US who wants it. All the kingdom wants are higher OSPs. In the real market where oil is bought and sold, no one talks of export cuts or market balancing, not the Saudis especially, because if they don’t provide their customers with full cargoes, there’ll be Russian and even US supplies to fulfill that.”
Market participants are also on the lookout for US weekly oil inventory data, due after market settlement from the API, or the American Petroleum Institute.
The API will release at approximately 16:30 ET (21:30 GMT) a snapshot of closing balances on US crude, gasoline and distillates for the week ended Oct. 6. The numbers serve as a precursor to official inventory data on the same due from the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.
For last week, analysts tracked by Investing.com expect the EIA to report a crude stockpile drop of 0.37 million barrels, versus the 2.224-million barrel reduction reported during the week to Sept. 29.
On the gasoline inventory front, the consensus is for a draw of 1.5M barrels over the 6.481M-barrel jump in the previous week. Automotive fuel gasoline is the No. 1 U.S. fuel product.
With distillate stockpiles, the expectation is for a drop of 1.5M barrels versus the prior week’s drop of 1.269M. Distillates are refined into heating oil, diesel for trucks, buses, trains and ships and fuel for jets.