2016: VERY UNCERTAIN PRICES
Brent crude oil spot prices increased by $6/b in March to a monthly average of $38/b. Declines in the U.S. rig count and some improvement in global economic indicators contributed to higher oil prices in March. However, market expectations of ongoing growth in global oil inventories contributed to falling prices at the end of March, with Brent prices ending the month below $37/b.
With global oil inventory builds expected to average 1.4 million b/d in 2016, oil prices are forecast to remain near current levels. Forecast Brent prices average $35/b in 2016.
Global oil inventories are expected to grow by 0.4 million b/d in 2017. Lower forecast inventory builds contribute to a moderate price recovery in 2017, with Brent prices forecast to average $41/b. Forecast Brent prices reach an average of $46/b in the fourth quarter of 2017, as the global oil market is expected be relatively balanced late in 2017, with the potential for significant inventory draws beyond the forecast period.
Forecast West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices average the same as Brent crude oil prices through the forecast period. The price parity of WTI with Brent in the forecast period is based on the assumption of competition between the two crudes in the U.S. Gulf Coast refinery market, as transportation differentials are similar to move the crudes from their respective pricing points to that market.
The expectation of continuing large inventory builds is a major source of uncertainty in the price forecast, as the capacity of global oil storage to absorb such builds is unknown. If global storage capacity becomes stressed, the cost of storage will rise to reflect more expensive marginal storage options such as floating inventories on crude oil tankers. The higher storage costs would lower near-month crude oil prices. Additional uncertainty stems from the pace of global economic growth and its contribution to oil demand growth and from the responsiveness of oil producers to sustained low oil prices.
The current values of futures and options contracts highlight the heightened volatility and high uncertainty in the price outlook. WTI futures contracts for July 2016 delivery that were traded during the five-day period ending April 7 averaged $39/b, and implied volatility averaged 44%. These levels established the lower and upper limits of the 95% confidence interval for the market's expectations of monthly average WTI prices in July 2016 at $27/b and $57/b, respectively. The 95% confidence interval for market expectations widens over time, with lower and upper limits of $22/b and $78/b for prices in December 2016. At this time last year, WTI for July 2015 delivery averaged $52/b, and implied volatility averaged 46%, with the corresponding lower and upper limits of the 95% confidence interval at $35/b and $78/b.
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WNA - Apart from adding capacity, utilisation of existing plants has improved markedly since 2000. In the 1990s capacity factors averaged around 60%, but they have steadily improved since and in 2010, 2011 and 2014 were above 81%. Balakovo was the best plant in 2011 with 92.5%, and again in 2014 with 85.1%.
WNA - India has a flourishing and largely indigenous nuclear power programme and expects to have 14.6 GWe nuclear capacity on line by 2024 and 63 GWe by 2032. It aims to supply 25% of electricity from nuclear power by 2050.
WNA - Mainland China has 38 nuclear power reactors in operation, about 20 under construction, and more about to start construction. The reactors under construction include some of the world's most advanced, to give a 70% increase of nuclear capacity to 58 GWe by 2020-21. Plans are for up to 150 GWe by 2030, and much more by 2050.
PLATTS - "The domestic uranium mining industry needs US government assistance to survive the foreign onslaught -- particularly from Russia and Kazakhstan -- that has undermined the US uranium industry while new players -- particularly China -- will soon make the situation worse," Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy said in a petition they jointly filed with the department.