Bank of America: Oil Prices Could Hit $100 Next Year

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Strong global oil demand growth, quickly falling inventories, and geopolitical issues from Iran to Venezuela could push oil prices to as high as $100 a barrel in 2019, Bank of America Merrill Lynch says.

Brent Crude is expected to average $70 a barrel this year and $75 in 2019, BofA’s commodity strategists led by Francisco Blanch said in a note, as carried by Business Insider.

At 12:27 p.m. EDT on Thursday, oil prices were flat on the day, with Brent Crude at $77.17 and WTI Crude at $71.14.

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“We also introduce a 2Q $90/bbl Brent price target for 2019 and see a risk of $100/bbl oil next year, although we are concerned that these market dynamics could unfold over a shorter timeframe,” Blanch wrote in the note.

This year demand growth is expected at 1.5 million bpd, BofA says, and revised up its 2019 demand growth by 100,000 bpd to 1.4 million bpd.

Venezuela’s plunging production and the return of US sanctions on Iran could keep exports lower amid tighter market. BofA doesn’t expect Iran’s crude oil exports to change much in the coming months.

OPEC could start winding down the production cut pact next year, but increased production may not be sufficient to offset a fast inventory drop, according to Blanch.

In the United States, producers could scale back production because of a strained supply chain, BofA reckons.

“In short, the micro drivers of the oil market remain positive, as long as global demand does not suffer from the ongoing threats of trade wars and policy uncertainty,” Blanch said.

“With stocks falling quickly during the course of the next 18 months, we would expect continued upside pressure on crude oil prices and see Brent averaging $75/bbl in 2019 compared to $70/bbl this year,” BofA analysts noted, adding that a stronger dollar poses a risk to the high oil price forecast.

Goldman Sachs, for its part, said on Wednesday that increased geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, plunging Venezuelan production, and now the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal could push Brent Crude prices to $82.50 a barrel by the summer.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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