The new OPEC Reference Basket of Crudes (ORB) is made up of the following: Saharan Blend (Algeria), Girassol (Angola), Oriente (Ecuador), Minas (Indonesia), Iran Heavy (Islamic Republic of Iran), Basra Light (Iraq), Kuwait Export (Kuwait), Es Sider (Libya), Bonny Light (Nigeria), Qatar Marine (Qatar), Arab Light (Saudi Arabia), Murban (UAE) and Merey (Venezuela).
Meanwhile Market Watch reports that crude oil prices lost ground early Tuesday as traders took profit following the overnight surge, underscoring the growing mixed views that key oil producers could agree on a production freeze this Sunday.
The U.S. oil benchmark settled above $40 a barrel for the first time in three weeks and the global Brent benchmark touched a four-month high Monday, thanks to a weaker dollar and higher anticipation that major oil players, such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, would reach a coordinated production freeze to revive prices.
Although U.S. oil CLK6, 0.35% held on by staying above the $40 mark, it lost 30 cents at $40.23 on the New York Mercantile Exchange in the Globex electronic session, while the Brent June contract LCOM6, 0.37% was 15 cents, or 0.35%, lower at $42.68 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.
“Expectations for something to be done in the upcoming Doha talks is likely mounting, given that no news of a cancellation has been made and it remains to be ground knowledge that higher oil prices through the Doha talks would primarily benefit the oil producers and alleviate fiscal concerns,” said Barnabas Gan, an economist at the Singapore-based OCBC.
For nearly two months, oil prices have been volatile as the market tried to gauge the likelihood of a concerted effort by the oil majors to tighten supply. The initial mention of a meeting back in February stoked a buying spree but prices dove when Saudi Arabia, one of the original initiators of the pact, later showed reluctance to participate in the agreement unless Iran pledges to do the same.
However, Tehran has repeatedly showed zero interest in a production freeze at the current level, saying it would keep pumping until productions reaches the pre-sanction level of around 4 million barrels a day.
Goldman Sachs forecasts the Sunday meeting won’t yield any “bullish surprise” and said arresting output at the current level could be “self-defeating” because any moves to push prices up would entice more producers to turn the taps wider, introducing more barrels into the market.
“We find ourselves more persuaded by the broader market arithmetic that recognizes that freezing output at a high level leaves a surplus in place, with rising Iranian output still likely to dictate a further increase in total OPEC supply to 33 million barrels a day, with the global market remaining in surplus until the second half of 2017 as a result,” said Tim Evans, an analyst at Citi Futures.
Analysts at Societe Generale estimate a 50% probability that the meeting would result in a general production freeze.
“A freeze excluding Iran is all about market psychology. It will have little to no impact on real crude production. However, the impact of market psychology could still be quite large,” said in an analysts note.
For this week, market watchers will be taking cues from the weekly U.S. crude inventories and production data scheduled for release on Wednesday. In a survey of analysts conducted by pricing agency Platts, U.S. crude stockpiles likely added 1 million barrels in the week ended April 8, driven by stronger imports due to stronger refining margin and sagging U.S. crude output. U.S. gasoline stocks is expected to have contracted by 1.9 million barrels in the same period.
Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock for May — the benchmark gasoline contract — fell 80 points to $1.4997 a gallon, while May diesel traded at $1.2130, 17 points lower.