Taking a view on the price of oil in the future takes a strong stomach.
Oil has crashed from highs of more than $100 per barrel in mid-2014 to as low as $27 in January, wiping out more than 70% of its value.
However, in the past month prices have started to recover, and this week, passed above $40 per barrel for the first time in 2016.
It is clear that the “current direction of travel is the correct one, although with a long way to go”, the Oil Market Report added.
Here’s the chart:
But analysts at Goldman Sachs, led by Damien Courvalin, aren’t so sure.
They argue that oil producers responding to rising prices with increased production will find the same low demand for the black stuff. There is no great global economic lift-off on the horizon. Inventories of oil would increase again, pushing prices down.
Here’s Goldman Sachs (emphasis ours) in a note published on Friday:
The well-flagged self-defeating rally: should the current rally extend to $50/bbl, we expect it to once again be self-defeating, keeping inventories high and potentially building again later this year. This would set the stage for a subsequent decline back to $35-45/bbl. This would be a repeat of the 2015 spring rally.
In the current supply-driven market, demand hasn’t really changed, and it takes sustained low prices to push and keep supply below demand to create a deficit. As a result, higher prices are much harder to sustain than in a demand driven market since supply is primed to return with higher prices.
Just a reminder, oil briefly poked its head up above $60 a barrel last year and then continued its downward slide. Here’s the chart:
So it’s reasonable to expect a repeat of that pattern until something fundamental changes in the demand for oil.
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