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Melbourne — Oil prices fell for a third day consecutive day on Wednesday on the growing expectation that supply growth will outpace demand growth in 2022, even though the Omicron coronavirus variant is not seen curbing mobility as sharply as earlier Covid-19 variants.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 82c, or 1.2%, to $69.91 a barrel at 0413 GMT, after losing 56c in the previous session.
Brent crude futures fell 71c, or 1%, to $72.99 a barrel, after losing 69c on Tuesday.
Both contracts slipped more than $1 earlier in the session while Brent’s prompt monthly spread flipped into contango briefly on Tuesday.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Tuesday said a surge in Covid-19 cases with the emergence of the Omicron variant will dent global demand for oil at the same time that crude output is set to increase, especially in the US, with supply set to exceed demand through at least the end of next year.
In contrast, oil cartel Opec on Monday raised its world oil demand forecast for the first quarter of 2022.
“The IEA’s bearish view on the market was in stark contrast to Opec’s more positive view when it released its monthly outlook earlier this week. The divide suggests volatility is likely to remain high in the short term,” ANZ commodity analysts said in a note.
Energy consultancy FGE said it has a more optimistic outlook than the IEA as the consultancy expects a smaller surplus of 400,000 barrels a day, based on a comparatively lower demand risk from Omicron, against IEA’s forecast of 1.7-million barrels a day in the first quarter.
Also weighing on the market is a firming dollar, which makes commodities priced in the greenback more expensive for other countries. Markets are awaiting the outcome of a key US Federal Reserve policy meeting on Wednesday for signs of when the central bank may raise interest rates.
In another bearish indicator, industry data showed that US crude inventories last week did not decline as much as expected.
American Petroleum Institute (API) data showed US crude stocks fell by 815,000 barrels in the week ended December 10, according to market sources, compared with a 2.1-million barrel drop that 10 analysts polled by Reuters had expected.
However, distillate stocks fell by 1-million barrels, compared with analysts’ forecasts for an increase of 700,000 barrels, and petrol stocks rose by 426,000 barrels, which was a smaller build than expected.
Weekly data from the US Energy Information Administration is due later on Wednesday.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.