MABUX World Bunker Index (consists of a range of prices for 380 HSFO, VLSFO and MGO (Gasoil) in the main world hubs) changed insignificant and irregular on Mar.25:
380 HSFO – USD/MT – 258.46 (-0.49)
VLSFO – USD/MT – 330.00 (+1.00)
MGO – USD/MT – 417.93 (+1.10)
Meantime, world oil indexes rose slightly on Mar.25, bolstered by progress on a massive pending U.S. economic stimulus package.
Brent for May settlement increased by $0.24 to $27.39 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. West Texas Intermediate for May rose by $0.48 to $24.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The Brent benchmark traded at the premium of $2.90 to WTI. Gasoil for April delivery gained $2.75.
Today morning global oil indexes do not have any firm trend so far.
U.S. senators and Trump administration officials have reached an agreement on a $2 trillion stimulus bill helping to boost markets.
Over the weekend, Bank of America told clients the US was heading towards a recession because of the spread of the coronavirus. In addition, oil-producing countries continue to increase production at record levels amidst a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia after OPEC+ (OPEC and Russia) failed to reach an agreement earlier this month over how much further to cut production to offset the virus outbreak-induced decline in demand. Some oil producers recently reduced selling prices by up to 20 percent.
Two main scenarios are under discussion at the moment: the best-case scenario includes effective control measures against the pandemic and successful stimulus packages that could halt the secondary effects on the economy while a resolution to end the oil price war is also required. This scenario does not mean oil will return to $60 plus levels, and $45 plus level looks more reasonable. The worst-case scenario assumes that the global economy will be impacted by a wave of bankruptcies.
With the Saudis holding out and flooding the market with oil, the oil glut could reach a staggering 1 billion barrels in a matter of months and $10 oil is suddenly looking like a distinct possibility. Even though the American government plans to purchase a total of 77 million barrels of oil for its strategic reserves, this can only be done at a 2 million barrels per day clip, thus leaving a massive excess of nearly 20 million barrels per day as the coronavirus continues to crush global demand.
Barclays slashed by $12 a barrel its estimates for average WTI Crude price this year to $28 per barrel and cut by the same amount–$12 a barrel–its outlook for the average Brent Crude price for 2020. Barclays now sees Brent Crude averaging just $31 a barrel this year, largely in line with other major banks that have already slashed their forecasts for Brent to the low $30s. The price outlook was slashed due to the spreading of the coronavirus and estimates of massive demand destruction across the world as many countries are now under lockdown, and thousands of flights are grounded. Last week, Morgan Stanley further cut its oil price forecast, expecting Brent Crude to average $30 a barrel during the second quarter, from $35 a barrel earlier.
The U.S. is today showing signs of increased desperation as oil prices sink to levels that may pose a threat to the energy independence of the United States by kicking U.S. shale out of the market. Several recent actions taken by the United States indicate that it may be attempting to change the current trajectory of the global oil market, including by showing interest in stepping up negotiations with Saudi Arabia. The move comes after intense pressure from U.S. lawmakers and others in the industry in recent weeks, some of whom have urged President Trump to take the extreme stance of embargoing Russian and Saudi Arabian oil. Other calls to action include the Texas Railroad Commission’s suggestion to use pro-rationing that would force Texas producers to curb production.
U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 1.6 million barrels from the previous week. At 455.4 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are about 3% below the five-year average for this time of year. This comes after two consecutive weekly inventory build, the first of 7.7 million barrels, for the first week of March, and another, of 2 million barrels, for the second week of the month. Distillate fuel stockpiles last week shed 700,000 million barrels after, during the previous two weeks, they declined by a combined 9.3 million barrels.
Credit risk in the bunker market is intensifying amid the coronavirus outbreak, even as dropping bunker fuel costs following the recent collapse in oil prices offer some relief to shipowners. This comes as industry estimates a negative outlook for global bunker demand this year as shipping feels the heat and countries worldwide struggle to contain the pandemic. Despite that, some shipowners are considering locking in longer-term contracts, but also volumes for April, as bunker fuel prices have dropped. On the other hand, some shipowners have already started taking steps to trim their capital expenditure to cope with tough markets.
We expect bunker prices may rise slightly today in a range of plus 1-5 USD.