Rumours of $100 oil return as crude recovers from Covid grip

While the oil price collapse is still fresh in our minds, rumours are starting to emerge that by the end of next year prices could once again top $100 a barrel.

Bloomberg quoted Azerbaijan’s Socar which predicted that global benchmark Brent could hit triple digits in the next 18 to 24 months.

Bank of America also sees potential spikes above $100 over the next few years on improving fundamentals and global stimulus.

Bloomberg added that speculators were also getting in on the action, increasing bets in the options market that oil would reach the vaunted level by December 2022.

The views are ultra-bullish, but they highlight increased confidence in the oil market after Brent rallied more than 200 per cent after hitting an 18-year low during the pandemic.

Demand has bounced back in key Asian markets, while OPEC+ is withholding barrels and a lack of investment is keeping shale supplies at bay. Goldman Sachs this week lifted its third-quarter forecast by $10 to $75 a barrel.

Option bets on oil prices rising above $100 for the December 2022 Brent contract have jumped in recent days, with open interest on the calls rising from 500 to 3,950 in the past week.

The $100 mark occupies a special place in the mind of many traders, as oil hovered around that level for several years in the early part of last decade as strong demand from emerging markets enticed drillers into ever more expensive locales, from deep ocean beds to Canada’s remote tar sands.

$100

That era ended in 2014 when U.S. shale firms proved they could pump massive amounts at far lower costs. But it was just a little more than two years ago that major trading houses made $100 projections that ended up falling far short.

Forecasts for $100 are far from the current consensus. The median analyst forecast compiled by Bloomberg has Brent staying below $65 a barrel through 2025. And there are plenty of reasons to be sceptical of such a resurgence.

For one, the OPEC cuts that have limited supply are artificial and the cartel has enough spare capacity to meet any shortfall should demand rocket following a worldwide recovery from the pandemic, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

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