The minimal impact on oil prices from a global deal for record output cuts showed that oil producers have a mountain to climb if they are to restore market balance as the coronavirus shreds demand and sends stockpiles soaring, industry watchers said.
After several days of discussions, oil producing and consuming countries aim to remove nearly 20 million barrels per day or 20% of global supply from the market, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Monday.
The oil market has barely shrugged, however: Brent crude gained 1.5% on Monday, while U.S. crude ended the day lower. The move underscores what both investors and producers already understand – that the monumental deal to cut supply in face of a 30% drop in demand could only accomplish so much initially.
The Saudi energy minister downplayed the move in oil prices on Monday, saying anticipation of the cuts was the reason for a rally in oil prices before the meeting. Since dipping below $22 a barrel two weeks ago, Brent has rebounded by roughly 48%.
The minister added on Monday that effective global oil supply cuts would amount to around 19.5 million barrels per day, taking into account the reduction pact agreed by OPEC+, pledges by other G20 nations and oil purchases into reserves. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies including Russia, known as OPEC+, are cutting 9.7 million bpd in supply.
Other major producers like the United States and Canada gave indirect commitments to cuts as well, playing up forecasts for drastic production declines in coming months due to the free-fall in prices.
He said that G20 nations had pledged to cut about 3.7 million bpd and that strategic reserves purchases would reach roughly 200 million barrels over the next couple of months.
The cut by OPEC+ may be more than four times deeper than the previous record set in 2008 and overall oil supply may shrink by twice that with other measures. Yet the reduction remains dwarfed by a demand drop predicted by some forecasters to be as much as 30 million bpd in April.