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Uncertainty grips oil market this month as global over-supply continues to dent prices

The International Energy Agency says it expects non-OPEC supply to rise by 2.3 million barrels a day this year

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This month oil prices have fallen to the lowest level this year

Volatility and uncertainty gripped the market in November and prices fell to the lowest this year.

Over-supply on the global market continues to dampen sentiment and in Friday trading, Brent Crude was priced around US$61 with WTI hovering just above US$52 a barrel.

Supply is plentiful from many producers in the world and while OPEC may contemplate cuts, this action seems to be built into the current trading price.

Trump tweets

The US continues to add supply and the American president, Donald Trump insists on publishing encouraging tweets to Saudi Arabia to do likewise.

Saudi Arabia reported increased supply this month compared to last and the oil minister Khalid Al Falih, told reporters this week that the country would "not sell oil that customers don’t need".

The International Energy Agency says it expects non-OPEC supply to rise by 2.3 million barrels a day this year.

In its review earlier in the year, the IEA was expecting an increase of 1.8 million barrels a day.

The consensus for global energy demand seems to be a growth of around 1.3 million barrels a day for this year, lower than expected earlier in the year.

In response to this situation, OPEC and colleagues have made it clear that it is willing to adjust output to help “balance the market,” with many members looking for a reduction in supply by more than a million barrels a day.

Adjusted forecasts..

Many of the major investment banks have adjusted forecasts with JP Morgan expecting an average for Brent Crude at around US$73 a barrel in 2019.

That’s down more than US$10 from its previous estimate, thanks in part to a glut of production from the US market, but the industry should view US$73 as a healthy enough number.

The concern will come with their 2020 projections, that fall to US$64 a barrel for Brent, but as we see on a daily basis, two years is a long and uncertain time in the oil market.

The bank says a minimum cut of 1.2 million barrels a day for all of 2019, will be needed from OPEC to help balance the market.

The US sanctions against Iran are in place as are the agreed waivers, with little impact on the market.

Expectations of an oil shortage occupied the headlines all year, but the reality is very different.

The wider world is managing without Iranian barrels with all concerns now firmly on the supply side.

The plateau that was expected in American production seems to have disappeared as new pipeline routes are almost complete.

Permian basin shipments active

Oil shipments from The Permian in Texas remain active and the major trading houses expect a re-acceleration of well completions by mid-2019.

The US Energy Information Administration predicts that by the end of 2019, total US oil production, including natural-gas liquids, will rise to 17.4 million barrels a day.

November has been a particularly harsh month for oil producers and with OPEC’s final meeting of the year only two weeks away, the main focus will be on restoring stability to the market.

While President Trump may tweet to Saudi Arabia for a lower price, few key players in the industry are eager to name the ideal price.

All producers want to see that comfortable level where their income level is acceptable, where wider economic growth is not eroded and where investment remains attractive.

Finding that balance is bound to be one of the biggest dilemmas facing the OPEC December meeting.

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