Oil prices saw a modest increase on Monday amid pledges from major exporters to maintain significant production cuts, setting a scene of tighter supply. Investors also braced for potentially intensified U.S. sanctions on Iranian exports.
Saudi and Russian Commitments
Brent crude futures experienced a lift of 0.59% to $85.39 a barrel, with U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) following closely at a 0.75% rise to $81.11 a barrel. The upward trend came after Saudi Arabia’s confirmation of sustaining an additional voluntary cut, trimming 1 million barrels per day to cap their output at 9 million bpd. Russia mirrored this stance, upholding a 300,000 bpd cut from its exports.
Market Surplus Forecasts
Analysts from ING project a market surplus in the upcoming quarter, which may encourage the continuance of production restraints by Saudi Arabia and Russia. Despite this, both Brent and WTI notched a 6% decline the previous week, as geopolitical concerns seemed to ease, with U.S. diplomatic engagements aiming to diminish regional tensions.
Geopolitical Risks and Price Support
The oil market currently does not heavily factor in geopolitical risks, keeping this as a potential catalyst for price hikes. For the week ahead, attention turns to China for economic indicators, following their less-than-stellar October factory data. WTI is expected to sustain above $80, with potential fallback to August lows if breached, while Brent should remain buoyed between $80 and $85, supported by the supply cuts, anticipated cessation of interest rate hikes, and a softening U.S. dollar.
Potential Impact of U.S. Sanctions on Iran
On the geopolitical front, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill aiming to tighten sanctions on Iranian oil, targeting foreign entities processing Iranian petroleum. The impact of these potential sanctions on Iran’s oil exports remains to be seen, with factors like national security waivers and China’s import behavior playing significant roles. Domestically, the U.S. noted a decrease in active oil rigs, reaching the lowest count since January 2022, indicating a shift in production dynamics.
The short-term outlook remains cautious yet optimistic, as the market weighs supply constraints against geopolitical developments and economic data points.