OPEC attributed the continued rise in international oil prices to the supportive oil market fundamentals deployed by the group to stem the earlier plunge in crude oil costs.
It disclosed this in the ‘Highlights of the OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report’ released on Tuesday and obtained by our correspondent in Abuja.
Commenting on crude oil price movements, the organisation said, “Spot crude prices rose for the fifth-consecutive month in March on the back of continuing supportive oil market fundamentals.
“The OPEC Reference Basket increased $3.51 or 5.7 per cent m-o-m (month-on-month) to average $64.56/barrel, the highest on monthly terms since January 2020.”
It added, “In the first three months of 2021, the ORB was up by $8.82, or 17.2 per cent to average $60.22/barrel. Crude oil futures prices were higher in March extending previous monthly gains.”
OPEC stated that the ICE Brent front month rose by $3.42 in March, or 5.5 per cent, to average $65.70/barrel, and NYMEX WTI increased by $3.30, or 5.6 per cent, to average $62.36/barrel.
It noted that consequently, the Brent WTI spread widened to $3.34/barrel on a monthly average.
Brent, against which Nigeria’s crude oil is priced, rose by $0.63 to $63.91 per barrel as of 9:50pm Nigerian time on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, OPEC has increased its oil demand outlook for 2021 just as the bloc and its allies plan to unleash more crude supplies over the next few months, according to S&P Global Platts.
In its closely watched monthly oil market report released April 13, OPEC raised its demand forecast by 190,000 barrels per day from its March estimate, expecting consumption to average 96.46 million bpd this year, citing economic stimulus programmes and a further easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures.
Year on year, global oil demand was projected to grow 5.95 million bpd in 2021, compared with the 5.89 million bpd forecast in March.
Only two weeks ago, OPEC cut its 2021 oil demand growth forecast by about five per cent to 5.6 million bpd after pressure by some members of an OPEC+ technical committee who favoured maintaining tight production quotas.
OPEC and its partners ended up abruptly agreeing April 1 to loosen their quotas and add more than 2 million bpd into the market by July, banking on a more robust recovery for the global economy.
The OPEC+ alliance will raise its collective output caps by 350,000 bpd in May, another 350,000 bpd in June, and 441,000 bpd in July.
At the same time, Saudi Arabia, which has been cutting an extra 1 million bpd on top of its quota to help bolster the market, will unwind it by 250,000 bpd in May, 350,000 bpd in June and 400,000 bpd in July.