Optimistic Citi predicts oil at $60 per barrel in 2021

The forecast is among the most optimistic for oil prices as they recover from the most volatile period in the industry’s history

  
A worker inspects oil barrels at Pertamina's storage depot in Jakarta May 25, 2010. Image used for illustrative purposes.

A worker inspects oil barrels at Pertamina's storage depot in Jakarta May 25, 2010. Image used for illustrative purposes.

REUTERS/Beawiharta Beawiharta

DUBAI: The price of Brent crude is forecast to reach $60 per barrel by analysts at Citi, the big US bank, as global economic demand recovers and high stock levels are used up.

Max Layton, Citi’s head of regional commodity research, said that the $60 figure was made more likely by a “collapse” in capital expenditure in the oil industry. “No new oil projects are incentivized at $40,” he told the bank’s global media summit.

The Citi forecast is among the most optimistic for oil prices as they recover from the most volatile period in the industry’s history. Brent began the year above $60, but fell below $20 in early April. It was trading Thursday above $42 per barrel.

Layton also ruled out the possibility of a new “price war” in oil markets while prices remained around present levels. “At current price levels and with the future structure of the industry we are not anticipating further price wars.

“But at $55-$60 that could be the case. Higher prices increase the possibility of Russia breaking away from the Opec+ deal.” Citi’s longer term forecast for the oil price remained at the lower end of a range from $45-$60, he added.

Grant Carson, head of Citi’s business in several Central Asian countries, said that even with oil at $20 per barrel, Russia could cover its national budget for more than two years. Lower oil prices could speed diversification away from energy sector dependency, he added.

Atiq Rehman, head of Citi emerging markets, said that Gulf Cooperation Council countries had low debt-to-GDP ratios and high levels of sovereign wealth, and had the capacity to deal with the challenges presented by relatively low oil prices.

“They have big public sectors where the governments own a lot of assets,” he said.

Mike Corbat, Citigroup CEO, said the economic recovery from the pandemic lockdowns would be uneven, and would depend to a great extent on the response from governments. “There have been some truly extraordinary actions by financial authorities around the world, not least the US.”

He said that US financial markets had responded and were “encouraged by the resilience” of government policy.

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