Prices posted a fourth straight weekly gain as signs of a global demand recovery and supply discipline among producers encouraged investors. Futures in New York rose 1% last week. Strong US demand growth is being passed on to Europe and emerging markets, where India is also starting to show improvements.
Crude posted its third straight weekly rise on improving demand, with the International Energy Agency warning the market will need extra supply next year. New York futures rose 1.9% last week, extending their rally to the highest settlement since October 2018. The IEA said that OPEC and its allies would need to lift output to keep the market adequately supplied, though the agency predicted demand wouldn’t reach pre-virus levels until late 2022. Meanwhile, road traffic in the US and much of Europe is essentially back to levels seen before the pandemic.
Futures rose towards $72 a barrel on Friday, trading close to a two-year high as OPEC+ supply discipline and recovering demand countered concerns about the pace of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout around the globe. Brent crude settled at $71.89 a barrel after touching $72.17, its highest since May 2019. The session high for West Texas Intermediate was $69.76, its highest since October 2018. OPEC and allies said they would stick to agreed supply restraints. US crude oil inventory declines extended in the week ended May 28th amid rising refinery demand and lower production.
It was a historic week for the oil industry, potentially marking a turning point, at least for the corporate strategies of the oil majors. More curbs on the supply side added some bullish sentiment to the market, although the impacts on the fundamentals are not necessarily going to unfold in the near term. But in the wake of the enormous legal and corporate governance blows to the oil majors, more than a few analysts spoke about growing odds of a supply crunch in the years ahead. Royal Dutch Shell lost a landmark legal case in a Dutch court, which, if it stands, will require 45% cuts in GHG emissions by 2030. The case is seen as a warning sign for the rest of the oil industry, signaling legal exposure to emissions.