【英语财经】影响石油价格走势五大因素 Five crucial factors will decide oil’s next move

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2016-4-7 22:48

小艾摘要: Oil’s volatile start to 2016 has continued, with prices back below $40. The following five factors are among those that could determine crude’s next move.Output freezeIt is less than two weeks until ...
Five crucial factors will decide oil’s next move
Oil’s volatile start to 2016 has continued, with prices back below $40. The following five factors are among those that could determine crude’s next move.

Output freeze

It is less than two weeks until a key meeting of large producers in Doha and the outcome is in doubt.

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said last week that it would only agree to a hold on output if joined by Iran, something that seems unlikely given that Tehran has vowed to lift exports as it emerges from years of sanctions.

Before his statement, Opec delegates indicated that Saudi Arabia would be prepared to allow Iran some leeway, despite their fierce rivalry.

While the prince’s comments may supersede those of the oil ministry, it is possible they fall short of an edict, and are partially aimed at a domestic audience used to tough talk against Iran. Equally, they may be a pre-meeting bargaining chip to try to extract more concessions from Iran, such as capping how much the country raises output before joining the freeze.

Either way, its seems unlikely the world’s largest producers would risk meeting in Doha without a deal already pencilled in.

“While a Doha deal might help to set a floor under oil prices, a sustained recovery will probably require outright cuts in global supply as well as further increases in demand to rebalance the market,” say analysts at Capital Economics.

US supply

The US shale oil boom bears at least some of the responsibility for the glut that has decimated prices since mid-2014, but slowing US output may also hold the key to an eventual recovery.

After proving more resilient to lower prices than many first assumed, US output is firmly on a downward trajectory, even as conventional production from areas such as the Gulf of Mexico continues to rise due to investments made when prices were above $100 a barrel.

From 2008 to April 2015, US crude production almost doubled from 5m barrels a day to a peak of 9.7m b/d. But in the past year it has slipped by at least 5 per cent, with the latest data indicating it was below 9.2m b/d in January.

The top 25 US oil and gas producers expect a further drop of 4 per cent on average this year. The US Energy Information Agency sees supply by 2017 averaging about 8.2m b/d for the year — a 1.5m b/d decline from its peak.

Others are sceptical. Energy Aspects, a consultancy, thinks the projected supply fall may be too high and reckons analysts are extrapolating data from smaller, cash-strapped producers that are likely to be less able to weather low prices than the oil majors.

Have hedge funds had their fill?

Hedge fund positioning has tracked the moves in oil prices so far this year. After establishing a near record bet against the price in early January, when crude fell below $30 a barrel for the first time in 13 years, funds have dramatically reversed course on hopes of a deal to freeze output. By the end of March, funds’ net long position — the difference between bets on rising and falling prices — was close to the highest level on record, totalling the equivalent of more than 0.5bn barrels of crude.

But the tide may be turning again. Last week traders reduced bets on higher prices and added to bets on another sell-off.

“Despite showing signs of improving, fundamentals are not yet strong enough to support a sustained recovery,” says Ole Hansen at Saxo Bank.

Production

Low prices can increase the risk of production stoppages. Baghdad’s long-running dispute with Iraqi Kurdistan over independent oil sales has curtailed output from the north of the country by about 150,000 b/d. In Nigeria, Shell has declared force majeure on about 250,000 b/d of exports after an explosion disrupted its Forcados export terminal. But ahead of the output “freeze” meeting all countries appear to be trying to maximise production. Russia’s output hit a post-Soviet high of 10.9m b/d in March, and Saudi Arabia and Kuwait may restart production at a field in the jointly controlled “neutral zone”.

Global demand

Demand is 2016’s wild card. Low prices helped propel demand growth in 2015, but the picture for this year is mixed. The International Energy Agency sees 1.2m b/d of growth — higher than the average over the previous five years. If that level is reached or exceeded, most analysts expect the market to start to balance towards the end of the year.

“Demand at these levels has been growing strongly,” says Henry Peabody at Eaton Vance, a fund manager. “Non-Opec production is in decline, and capital is not allocated to new projects. We should start to see the market rebalancing later this year or in 2017.

油价延续了年初以来的动荡局面,目前再度跌破每桶40美元。以下五个因素可能决定原油的未来行情。

产量冻结

石油输出国组织(OPEC,简称:欧佩克)成员和其他大型产油国的一场关键会议还有不到两周时间就要在多哈召开了,会议结果非常不确定。

上周,沙特副王储穆罕默德?本?萨勒曼(Mohammed bin Salman)表示,唯有在伊朗也同意的情况下,沙特才会同意冻结产量——而伊朗似乎不太可能同意,因为该国在摆脱多年的制裁之后,已发誓要增加出口。

在他如此表态之前,欧佩克的代表曾暗示,尽管沙特和伊朗激烈对抗,但沙特会愿意给伊朗留有一些余地。

尽管这位副王储的话或许推翻了沙特石油部官员的话,但副王储的话可能不会落实为法令,在一定程度上可能是说给习惯于听到对伊朗强硬言论的沙特国内民众听的。同样,这些话或许是会议召开前的一块谈判筹码,试图使伊朗做出更多让步,比如设定伊朗加入产量冻结前的增产上限。

无论是哪种情况,世界上最大产油国手中还没有一份谈妥的协议就贸然去参加多哈会议,似乎是不太可能的。

“尽管一份多哈协议或许有助于为油价托底,但油价持续复苏将很可能有赖于全球供应的真正削减以及需求的进一步增加使得市场实现再平衡,”凯投宏观(Capital Economics)的分析师表示。

美国供应

美国页岩油繁荣对供应过剩承担至少部分责任,但美国产量放缓或许也对油价最终复苏起到关键作用。自2014年年中以来,油价一直受到供应过剩的严重打压。

此前的事实显示,美国的石油产量对价格的降低比许多人一开始假定的更不敏感,如今美国的产量稳步进入了下降通道——即便由于在油价高于每桶100美元时进行的投资,墨西哥湾等地区的传统方式石油产量还在持续增加。

从2008年到2015年4月,美国原油日产量几乎翻了一番,从500万桶增加至970万桶的峰值。但在过去一年里,美国原油日产量降低了至少5%——最新数据显示,1月的这个数字不到920万桶。

美国最大的25家油气生产商预计,今年产量平均将进一步降低4%。美国能源信息署(EIA)认为,2017年全年平均日供应量将约为820万桶,较峰值下降150万桶。

其他人表示怀疑。咨询公司Energy Aspects认为,预测的供应量减幅或许太高了,并猜想,分析师的数据是根据资金紧张的中小生产商的情况推出的。这些生产商抵御低价影响的能力可能不如大型油企。

对冲基金满足了吗?

今年迄今,对冲基金一直在根据油价行情调整头寸。1月初,原油价格13年来首次跌破每桶30美元时,对冲基金持有的押注油价下跌的头寸达到了近乎创纪录的水平。现在,由于寄望于产量冻结协议的达成,对冲基金又大幅逆转了押注方向。到3月底,对冲基金的净做多头寸——即押注油价上涨和下跌的头寸之差——已接近历史最高水平,总量相当于超过5亿桶原油。

但风向或许会再次变化。上周,交易员们降低了押注油价上涨的头寸,增加了押注原油再遭抛售的头寸。

“尽管已出现改善迹象,但基本面尚未强到足以支撑油价持续复苏的地步,”盛宝银行(Saxo Bank)的奥勒?汉森(Ole Hansen)称。

产量

低价可能会增加生产中断的风险。巴格达方面与伊拉克库尔德斯坦地区(Iraqi Kurdistan)在后者独立出售石油问题上的长期纠纷,已使该国北部的日产量减少了约15万桶。在尼日利亚,一次爆炸破坏了壳牌(Shell)在福卡多斯(Forcados)的出口终端,该公司随后宣布,受不可抗力影响,停止每日约25万桶的出口。但在产量“冻结”会议前,所有国家似乎都在努力把产量提到最高。俄罗斯3月的日产量达到1090万桶的后苏联时代高点,沙特和科威特或许会重启位于两国共同控制的“中立区”的一处油田的生产。

全球需求

2016年局势的变数在于需求。2015年,低价帮助推高了需求增长,但今年的局面是复杂的。国际能源署(IEA)认为,今年日需求量将增加120万桶,增幅高于过去5年的平均水平。如果增幅达到或超过这一水平,大多数分析师预计,到年底市场会开始达成平衡。

“当前价格水平上的需求一直增长强劲,”基金管理公司亿廷繁世(Eaton Vance)的亨利?皮博迪(Henry Peabody)表示,“欧佩克以外国家的产量在下降,没有资本被配置到新项目中去。在今年晚些时候或2017年,我们应会开始看到市场再平衡。”

译者/邢嵬

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