Even as traders and investors continue to speculate over whether the world’s major oil exporters would cut output to shore up oil prices, analysts cited by Bloomberg are now projecting that prices may rise by up to 50 percent by the end of the year. According to a median of 17 estimates compiled by Bloomberg, Brent crude — the international oil benchmark — would trade at $48 a barrel in London by the end of 2016, up from the current $32.
By the fourth quarter of the year, the price of a barrel of New York crude oil, currently at $30, is forecast to reach $46.
A massive global oversupply of oil, caused primarily by the refusal of Russia and members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to trim output, has pushed oil prices to near 12-year lows. However, according to an earlier estimate by the Goldman Sachs Group, oil is expected to turn into a bull market in the second half of the year — tipping global oil markets into a deficit from the current surplus — as shale production in the U.S. slumps by up to 575,000 barrels a day.
A separate forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration also sees domestic oil production tapering off to about 8.49 million barrels a day in the fourth quarter of 2016. The agency estimates 9.11 million barrels a day in the first three months of the year.
“U.S. shale should take the hit, that’s where you will see cuts and supply should start to taper off,” Daniel Ang, an investment analyst at Phillip Futures, told Bloomberg. “On top of that, there are bullish demand forecasts for the second half.”
The steep fall in crude prices over the past year, which has failed to translate into a big uptick in consumer spending, has not only sent global stock markets tumbling, but has also affected the quarterly profits and outlook of oil giants like Exxon Mobil and BP. Additionally, the oil glut, coupled with growing concerns about the state of emerging market economies, has hit industrial production in the U.S. — raising fears that the world’s largest economy may be heading toward another recession.
“Lower oil prices have clearly not been the economic boon many had previously assumed,” Morgan Stanley analysts wrote, in a note. “But it is also important to recognize that many 'broad' measures of economic health, such as U.S. industrial production, can be significantly affected by weakness in oil.”