Saudi prince says oil’s disconnect may force Opec+ action
LONDON: Saudi Arabian Energy Minister prince Abdulaziz bin Salman says “extreme” volatility and lack of liquidity mean the futures market is increasingly disconnected from fundamentals and Opec+ may be forced to cut production.
“The paper and physical markets have become increasingly more disconnected,” he said in response to written questions from Bloomberg News.
Prince Abdulaziz represents the largest oil producer in Opec+ and is arguably the most important player in the 23-nation alliance.
He said futures prices don’t reflect the underlying fundamentals of supply and demand, which may require the group to tighten production when it meets next month to consider output targets.
“Witnessing this recent harmful volatility disturb the basic functions of the market and undermine the stability of oil markets will only strengthen our resolve,” he said.
Benchmark crude oil futures have fallen more than 20% since early June on concern about the outlook for the global economy and the possibility of more Iranian oil coming onto the market.
Brent futures pared losses after the prince’s comments to trade near US$96 (RM431) a barrel, having earlier sunk to almost US$92 (RM413).,
Still, open interest and trading volumes remain well below historical levels as the price swings caused by the war in Ukraine scare investors away. The lack of trading is making the market more volatile as the pool of active buyers and sellers shrinks, according to some market participants.
Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Opec+ group have steadily increased production this year, reversing all of the cuts made during the coronavirus pandemic as demand recovered and Russian supply dropped.
Below is a transcript of Prince Abdulaziz’s responses to written questions:
Are you concerned about the current state of the market?The paper oil market has fallen into a self-perpetuating vicious circle of very thin liquidity and extreme volatility undermining the market’s essential function of efficient price discovery, and have made the cost of hedging and managing risks for physical users prohibitive.
This has a negative impact on the smooth and efficient operation of oil markets, energy commodities and other commodities creating new types of risks and insecurities.
This vicious circle is amplified by the flow of unsubstantiated stories about demand destruction, recurring news about the return of large volumes of supply, and ambiguity and uncertainty about the potential impacts of price caps, embargoes, and sanctions.
In your view, how is the current volatility impacting the functioning of markets?This is detrimental because without sufficient liquidity, markets can’t reflect the realities of the physical fundamentals in a meaningful way and can give a false sense of security at times when spare capacity is severely limited and the risk of severe disruptions remains high.