Global Oil Prices Set for Weekly Gain Despite India Virus Surge
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Global Oil Prices Set for Weekly Gain Despite India Virus Surge

By the Al-Attiyah Foundation

Global Oil Prices Set for Weekly Gain Despite India Virus Surge

Oil edged up slightly on Friday even as the COVID-19 crisis in India worsened, and prices notched a second weekly gain against the backdrop of optimism over a global economic recovery. Brent crude futures ended the session last Friday at $68.28 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude settled at $64.90 a barrel, both up 19 cents, or 0.3%. For last week, both benchmark crudes rose by more than 1%, making this week the second consecutive weekly gain, as easing COVID-19 restrictions on movement in the United States and Europe, recovering factory operations, and coronavirus vaccinations pave the way for a revival in fuel demand.

Crude imports by the world's biggest buyer (China) still fell 0.2% in April from a year earlier to 9.82 million barrels per day (bpd), the lowest since December. The recovery in oil demand, however, has been uneven as surging COVID-19 cases in India reduce fuel consumption in the world's third-largest oil importer and consumer.

The resurgence of COVID-19 in countries such as India, Japan, and Thailand is hindering gasoline demand recovery, energy consultancy FGE said in a client note. However, some of the lost demand has been offset by other countries such as China, where recent Labour Day holiday travel surpassed 2019 levels. India, last Friday reported a record daily rise in coronavirus cases of 414,188, while deaths from COVID-19 swelled by 3,915, according to Health Ministry data.

Benchmark Oil Price

Global LNG: Asian LNG prices Soar to Nearly 4-month High on Firm Demand

Asian spot prices for LNG rose to a nearly four-month high this week as cargoes were pulled into Europe amid firm restocking demand and for power generation demand in summer, trade sources said on Friday. The average LNG price for June delivery into Northeast Asia was estimated at about $9.65 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), up 80 cents from the previous week. The price for a cargo delivered in July was estimated at about $9.75 per mmBtu, according to trade sources. 

Firm demand from Europe and China as buyers replenished diminished gas inventory was supporting prices, traders said. Ship tracking data from Refinitiv Eikon showed that China's April LNG imports, rose about 11% in April from the previous month to 6.48 million tonnes. 

Price gains are capped by the continued diversion of cargoes by buyers in India, as soaring coronavirus cases dented the country's gas demand from industrial sectors. A total of seven ships that had originally signaled India as their destination, were diverted away, said Rebecca Chia, an analyst with data intelligence firm Kpler. Analysts also reported that China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) offered three cargoes for delivery into Northeast Asia in June and July, on the Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange, while Russia's Sakhalin Energy offered a cargo for June 14 loading. 

In the U.S., natural gas futures rose on forecasts for cooler weather and higher heating demand next week than previously expected. The slight upward price movement came despite forecasts for milder weather in mid-May, a small decline in exports, and an even smaller increase in output so far this month. Front-month gas futures rose 3.0 cents, or 1.0%, to settle at $2.958 per million British thermal units. For the last week, the front month was up over 1%, putting the contract on track for its fourth week of gains in a row for the first time since February.

Buyers around the world continue to purchase near-record amounts of U.S. gas because prices in Europe and Asia remain high enough to justify the cost of buying and transporting the U.S. fuel across the ocean.

Benchmark Gas Price

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DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this insight piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of IndraStra Global.