Analysts have projected that the global oil market is likely to be in balance in the second half of 2021, though European coronavirus lockdowns and U.S. winter storms caused disruptions in March, crude and petroleum products market price structures showed.
After sharp declines of oil inventories this year, the pace of destocking slowed in recent weeks, prompting OPEC and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, to lower its 2021 demand growth forecast by 300,000 barrels per day (bpd). The group now sees demand rising by 5.6 million bpd.
Brent’s front month spread is back in contango, a situation where the futures price of a commodity is higher than the spot price. This structure of the market encourages storage of oil according to Reuters.
The spread of Brent for May delivery versus June delivery was as low as minus $0.11 on Wednesday, compared to almost $1 in positive territory at the start of the month.
UBS oil analyst Giovanni Staunovo said March inventory data from the United States, Europe, Japan, Singapore and Fujairah showing stock building up helped explain why the front month spread had weakened.
“The sum of all petroleum inventories for crude and oil products in those locations has seen a build in March, a big change from January and February with large inventory declines,” he said.
The build seemed to be the result of renewed lockdown restrictions in Europe and a winter storm that hit parts of the southern United States in February.
Despite weaker-than-expected demand in recent weeks, analysts said demand was expected to start outstripping supply in the second half of the year.