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Oil Update—January 2020

My last month’s forecast of $55 to $65 a barrel was violated on both ends. The upper end was pierced during the US-Iran conflict. And, as we are currently experiencing, oil prices have fallen through the lower end because of the coronavirus, 2019-nCoV.

Offsetting the coronavirus is the Libyan situation where oil exports have fallen tremendously. But the coronavirus situation is affecting economic activity, especially in China, and therefore adversely affecting confidence in oil prices. OPEC+ may be moving its early March meeting to sometime in February to address the coronavirus concerns.

My forecast is for West Texas Intermediate to range between $50 and $60 a barrel. Because of these strong crosscurrents, I do not have a strong opinion on oil prices. Assuming OPEC+ meets in February, I anticipate that it will adopt measures to prevent a larger glut of oil and therefore oil prices from falling too far. At the higher end, the coronavirus will keep a lid on prices—baring any exogeneous events—until it is brought under control.

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