The price of oil had the best start of the year in more than three decades. Since the crude oil futures settled below zero in 2020, the market reversed sharply, fueled by hopes of a return to pre-crisis demand levels.
If one considers the move from negative $40 to positive $60, the hundred dollar’s move in the price of oil is the largest one ever recorded. The market, however, found strong resistance at the $60 level, despite optimism about vaccines’ efficacy and, thus, the end of the pandemic.
What next for the price of oil?
Fossil Fuels Use Expected to Decline Dramatically
The world shifts away from fossil fuels. It has no other choice, as pointed by rising temperatures and extreme meteorological phenomena.
Yet, oil still represents a big part of the current energy mix. Nations around the world promised to reduce their CO2 emissions in the next decades, and big action was already taken. As seen in the European Union, join efforts do pay off, as the CO2 levels in the European Union declined in the last decade.
However, the world as we know it today remains dependent on oil. The price of oil dictates inflation expectations, and there is literally no other alternative to oil’s use at such scale.
The period ahead looks extremely interesting for the price of oil and oil traders. On the one hand, the world’s economies are opening up as vaccination campaigns are ongoing. This means more demand for oil, thus bullish for prices. On the other hand, OPEC may intervene, as it did so many times in the past, trying to influence the price of oil.
Despite the general public’s belief, OPEC’s main interest is not higher oil prices – but stable ones. Just like a central bank, OPEC aims at “price stability,” and it uses its tools at hand to make sure it gets the price it targets.
So far, the $60 level seems to be that price. Everyone is happy with oil at $60 – central banks like to see some stability so that inflation expectations remain anchored, and OPEC is delighted with the move from negative $40 to positive $60.
While governments will push for greener policies in the near future, oil will still have its role in the energy mix. As long as it consolidates around $60, the bias is that it will push for even higher levels.