Singapore/London: Rising OPEC and U.S. oil supply, coupled with stalled economic and crude demand recovery, have pushed the futures market structure back to indicating a surplus, last observed during oil’s collapse in April and May amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The development is a headache for OPEC, which had been hoping demand would recover quicker after a round of record global output cuts. The group will either have to consider further production cuts or tolerate lower oil prices for longer.
The surplus market structure, when prompt prices are weaker than future prices, is also a boon for traders, as they can store crude in the hope to resell it later at a profit. Royal Dutch/Shell, Total, Eni and Norway’s Equinor have all reported bumper trading profits over the past week.
Front-month September Brent futures in the past week have been trading at a discount of $2 per barrel to March 2021, the steepest discount since May, when lockdown measures against the virus outbreak cut global oil demand by a third.