Fuels: towards a rise in prices at the pump by this summer?

Fuels: towards a rise in prices at the pump by this summer?

2023-06-04 22:18:11

Nothing is forever. And especially not the stability of prices at the pump. Brent crude, Europe’s benchmark, is currently trading at $76 a barrel. When its American equivalent, the WTI (West Texas Intermediate), emerges for its part at 71 dollars, a far cry from the peaks recorded in March 2022 at the start of the conflict in Ukraine (where prices had risen to more than 140 dollars). Enough to delight all fuel consumers, starting with the 1.4 billion motorists (private and commercial) in the world. But black gold producers see this current trend with a very negative eye. And they hope to be able to reverse it quickly.

On the occasion of a meeting this Sunday in Vienna (Austria) of OPEC + ministers, bringing together the thirteen permanent oil-exporting member countries and ten others led by Russia, Saudi Arabia, the heavyweight of the sector (seven million barrels per day, or bpd) announced a further cut in production, hoping to boost prices. This measure will apply from July and “may be extended”, said Saudi Prince Abdelaziz bin Salman.

A sluggish market and rising rates

“Not sure, however, that this new measure will quickly produce the desired effect, wonders Benjamin Louvet, director of commodity management at OFI Invest AM. OPEC + had already announced cuts in production last April, bringing the total volume of the reduction to 3.66 bpd. And that hasn’t stopped prices from continuing to plummet. »

The fault of a market permanently depressed by fears of a global economic recession. But also to the repeated hikes in the rates of the main central banks, the American Federal Reserve (Fed) and the European Central Bank (ECB) in the lead, as well as the laborious recovery of demand in China, after the end of its zero Covid policy.

The “driving season” soon to be launched

Initially, however, Russia was very reluctant to further tighten the floodgates of its black gold. This manna continues to serve him to finance his military offensive against Ukraine, despite the various European embargoes. To the point that signs of discord between Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, and Moscow, had appeared in recent weeks and even threatened to disrupt the meeting this Sunday. But in the end, OPEC+ showed a united front by deciding to stay on course set a few weeks earlier.

Especially since some indicators also seem to point to a recovery in the crude oil markets in the weeks to come. “On the one hand, the economic recovery of China, and therefore of its demand for oil, will eventually be felt, continues Benjamin Louvet. Then, the summer period traditionally launches the “driving season”, that is to say the time when all motorists, starting with the Americans, take the wheel to go on vacation. »

A record year

Another factor: the heat of summer is also conducive to increased oil consumption to supply energy to air conditioning systems in the Middle East. “All of this could therefore result in the coming weeks in a rebound in the markets, and in fine at the pump”, analyzes Benjamin Louvet.

In his latest monthly report on the global oil market, the International Energy Agency (IEA) is also forecasting a record year in terms of production, and therefore oil consumption: 102 million barrels per day for the whole of 2023. A historic figure. “Already last year, 82% of the primary energy consumed in the world still came from fossil fuels”, recalls Benjamin Louvet. The real energy transition will therefore have to wait a little longer.

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