2019 was a turbulent year for many markets, especially as the U.S-Sino trade war but traders on edge and called into question how global trade would develop. But despite concerns about a trade slowdown and a 1 percent decline on the last day of the trading year, 2019 ended the year with the biggest yearly rise in oil prices since 2016.
U.S. WTI gained 34 percent in 2019, and Brent crude ended the year up 23 percent, gains which were helped in no small part by the production cuts implemented by OPEC and its partners (which were extended until the end of Q1 2020 for the time being). U.S. WTI futures closed the year at $61.21 per barrel, and Brent crude futures ended the year at $66.03 per barrel. Reuters reports that analysts largely expect oil prices to stay in a similar range in 2020. CNBC puts the range for oil prices between $59 and $70 in the coming year. The U.S. Energy Information Administration has forecasted a decline in crude prices in 2020 as compared with 2019.
2019 gains were capped in part by record production in the U.S., a phenomenon which is not expected to be repeated in 2020. In October 2019, U.S. production peaked at a record 12.66 million barrels per day, before retreating towards the end of the year. OPEC’s cuts in 2020 will see a continuance of 2019’s cuts plus an additional cut of 500,000 barrels per day from OPEC and another 400,000 barrel per day from Saudi Arabia. However, some countries, such as Nigeria and Iraq may challenge OPEC’s efforts.
U.S. crude oil inventories declined in the last week of the year, falling 7.8 million barrels to 436 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute reported last week. U.S. crude imports also declined, falling by 447,000 barrels per day to 5.97 million barrels per day.