• The OPEC Reference Basket in November fell below $105/b for the first time since July. A key factor behind the decline in the crude oil prices was reduced refinery crude intake due to scheduled turnarounds, as well as dismal margins. All Basket component values saw losses in November, but at varying levels. Crude futures prices also declined in November for the second month in a row. High crude inventories and rising supply in the US weighed heavily on Nymex WTI. The positive outcome at the Iran-P5+1 talks in Geneva also impacted the market. The Basket began to improve at the end of the month and into December to stand at $107.72/b on 9 December.
• World economic growth for 2013 and 2014 remains unchanged at 2.9% and 3.5% respectively.
The forecast for the major OECD economies assumes a continued recovery, leading to higher growth in 2014 at 1.9%, compared to 1.2% in the current year, both unchanged from the previous report. China’s recent stimulus efforts and rising exports confirm this year’s forecast of 7.8%; growth is expected to continue at this level in 2014. While recent indicators point at some improvement, the forecast for India remains at 4.7% for 2013 and at 5.6% in 2014. Most recent advances in the OECD and China confirm the on-going recovery in the global economy.
• World oil demand growth in 2013 has been left broadly unchanged at 0.9 mb/d, while the forecast for 2014 remains at 1.0 mb/d. The bulk of next year’s growth is expected to come from the non-OECD, which is seen increasing by 1.2 mb/d, while OECD demand is projected to contract by 0.2 mb/d, which represents an improvement from the current year. China’s demand growth in 2014 is expected at 0.3 mb/d, in line with growth in 2013. Demand growth in OECD Americas is expected at 0.1 mb/d, while OECD Asia Pacific consumption is projected to contract by 0.1 mb/d.
• Non-OPEC oil supply is expected to increase by 1.2 mb/d in 2013, up slightly from the last report. In 2014, non-OPEC oil supply is forecast to grow by 1.2 mb/d. Output growth is expected to come mainly from the US, Canada, the Sudans, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Colombia, while oil supply from Norway, Syria, the UK, and Mexico is seen declining. In 2014, OPEC NGLs and non-conventional oils are forecast to grow by 0.15 mb/d over the current year to average 5.95 mb/d. OPEC crude oil production averaged 29.63 mb/d in November, a decrease of 193 tb/d from the previous month, according to secondary sources.
• Oil product markets remained relatively weak worldwide in November. The top of the barrel continued to show a poor performance, despite some positive signs of increasing seasonal demand for naphtha. However, tightening market sentiment fuelled by some refinery outages and run cuts helped to limit potential declines in margins in Asia and Europe. Meanwhile, falling US middle distillate inventories, amid increasing seasonal requirements and lower US crude prices, allowed US margins to show a healthy recovery.
• In the tanker market, spot freight rates for dirty vessels saw gains across various classes with VLCC rates encountering the strongest growth. VLCC, Suezmax and Aframax spot freight rates increased by 40%, 18%, and 5%, respectively, over the previous month. The improvements were driven by winter demand, higher Asian requirements, and increased delays in the Turkish straits. Clean tanker freight rates were mixed in November, with West of Suez freight rates increasing by 10%, while East of Suez freight rates remained weak, dropping by 9% from a month earlier.
• Preliminary data showed total OECD commercial oil stocks declined by 2.5 mb in October, indicating a deficit of around 10.1 mb compared to the five-year average. Crude inventories reached 26.4 mb above the seasonal norm, while products fell to 36.5 mb below the five-year average. In terms of days of forward cover, OECD commercial stocks stood at 58.5 days, 0.7 days more than the five-year average. Preliminary data for November shows that US total commercial oil stocks fell by 26.4 mb, but still indicated a surplus of 9.2 mb above the five-year average. Crude inventories indicated a surplus of 40.8 mb, while products showed deficit of 31.6 mb.
• Demand for OPEC crude in 2013 is estimated to average 29.9 mb/d, unchanged from the previous report and 0.6 mb/d lower than the 2012 level. Demand for OPEC crude in 2014 is also unchanged from the previous report at 29.6 mb/d, representing a decline of 0.3 mb/d compared to 2013.