WTI falls back under $100 with Russo-Ukraine peace talk optimism, crude oil reserve releases in focus

WTI falls back under $100 with Russo-Ukraine peace talk optimism, crude oil reserve releases in focus
  • Oil was trading with a bearish bias on Friday amid Russo-Ukraine peace talk optimism and crude oil reserve release focus.
  • WTI dipped below $100 per barrel and hit fresh weekly lows sub-$98.00, with bears eyeing March lows in the $93.00s.

Oil prices have continued to trade with a bearish bias on Friday, with front-month WTI futures dipping to fresh weekly lows under $98.00 as traders digest the recent announcement of a major crude oil reserve release in the US (1M barrels per day for six months) and a further tightening of lockdown measures in major Chinese economic zone Shanghai. Recent positive commentary from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov regarding progress in Russo-Ukraine peace talks is also weighing on oil as geopolitical risk premia is further unwound. Having found resistance at its 21-Day Moving Average (DMA) in the $108 area earlier in the week, WTI is now probing its 50DMA to the downside in $98.00s.

International Energy Agency member nations recently commenced a meeting and the speculation is that other major oil consumer nations might also announce crude oil reserve releases alongside the US. US President Joe Biden said this could amount to a further 30-50M barrels of immediate supply. If confirmed, further newsflow pertaining to crude oil reserve releases could inject further bearishness into crude oil markets, with a test of March lows in the $93.00s on the cards.

But as was the case back in March, any dip into the mid or low $90s may well be seen by the longer-term bulls as a good buying opportunity. Commodity strategists noted that US crude oil reserve releases over the coming months will not be enough to make up for the loss of as much as 3M barrels per day in Russian supply as a result of sanctions. Meanwhile, OPEC+ this week resisted calls to increase output at a faster pace than the usual 400K barrels per day per month, suggesting the group is not eager to ease the global supply squeeze.

Meanwhile, OPEC+'s struggles to lift output in line with its own output quota hikes was on display again on Friday after a Reuters survey revealed output rose just 90K barrel per day MoM in March, well below the 400K target. That meant that the group’s compliance to its own supply cut pact rose to over 150% from 136% one month earlier. Commodity strategists will argue that against the backdrop of OPEC+ output struggles and sanction-caused Russian supply shut-ins, global oil markets will remain exceedingly tight for the foreseeable future, suggesting a structurally higher WTI (i.e. near or above $100 per barrel) continues to make sense.

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