Oil rebounded after the U.S. Energy Department said it has no plans “at this time” to tap into the nation’s oil reserves to help quell rising gasoline prices.
Futures in New York rose 0.8% after earlier falling as much as 3.2% on Thursday. The department’s statements followed a Financial Times report on Wednesday that Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm had raised the prospect of releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
“They key to remember is that the Biden administration is very keen on having low gasoline prices for consumers,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd., in a Bloomberg Television interview. “So if prices continue to go up and overheat, then they will be putting pressure on OPEC.”
Crude has increased about 15% since mid-August following an increase in consumption as countries emerge from the worst of the pandemic. The energy crunch from Europe to Asia also raised the prospect of greater demand for oil ahead of winter at a time when OPEC+ producers decided to only gradually add back oil supplies to the market.
It is “only a matter of time” before OPEC+ accelerates supply increases, especially if oil remains over $80/bbl, according to Citigroup Inc.
The group’s decision to stick with an increase of only 400,000 barrels a day for next month was clearly an effort to maximize short-term revenues as demand escalates and inventories drop, analysts said in a note on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments earlier this week on European gas supplies were a deliberate attempt to calm an increasingly unstable market, said two people with knowledge of the country’s energy policy.
There were some strings attached to the potential offer of record Russian gas export volumes this year, perhaps the quick approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. But the people said the overriding motivation behind Putin’s statement was to bring down prices that had run too high.
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–With assistance from Sharon Cho, Jack Wittels, Alex Longley and Jessica Summers.