In Citigroup’s report, Edward Morse – the firm’s global head of commodity research – said that Brazil and Russia are continuing to produce oil at record levels, while Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran are fighting to maintain their market share by slashing prices to Asia.
According to Morse, the oil market is oversupplied and inventory looks likely to build up to the point that storage tanks will top out.
Morse says that a pullback in oil production probably isn’t likely until the third quarter and that West Texas Intermediate Crude (WTI), which currently trades at around $52 a barrel, could fall to the $20 range “for a while.”
The oil market should bottom sometime between the end of Q1 and beginning of Q2 at a significantly lower price level in the $40 range — after which markets should start to balance, first with an end to inventory builds and later on with a period of sustained inventory draws. It’s impossible to call a bottom point, which could, as a result of oversupply and the economics of storage, fall well below $40 a barrel for WTI, perhaps as low as the $20 range for a while.
“It looks exceedingly unlikely for OPEC to return to its old way of doing business,” Morse wrote in the Report.
“While many analysts have seen in past market crises ‘the end of OPEC,’ this time around might well be different,” Morse said in the report.
In the report, Citigroup cut its forecast for 2015 WTI oil prices to $46 a barrel – from a previous estimate of $55 – and cut its 2015 estimate for Brent crude to $54 a barrel – from a previous estimate of $63.