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THE global economy is gradually overcoming a Covid-induced recession and consumers’ pent-up demand is underpinning the recovery.
Coupled with the various unprecedented stimulus measures by governments in alleviating adverse effects from Covid-19, the world economy is quickly regaining its stance. This is seen with the strong performance during the second quarter of 2021.
In fact, consumer demand that re-emerged as with the easing of pandemic restrictions has been fuelling the market.
A surge in demand while supply is still struggling to cope due to movement restrictions to contain the virus spread has added pressure to the cost of production. This was further exacerbated by the ongoing supply chain crunch and energy shortage issues.
With both coal and natural gas prices ballooned to record levels as a result of the severe demand and supply mismatch dynamics in the energy market and under-investment in their production, some effects are starting to spill over into the crude oil market following its plummeting price in 2020.
Alongside a drawn-out supply constraint from Hurricane Ida, the unwillingness of Opec+ to step up its supply to cater to excess needs has resulted in a sharp jump in oil prices. Currently, Opec+ are sticking to the previously agreed deal of 400,000 barrels per day.
This has propelled the price of Brent per barrel by a whopping 65% over the last 10 months from US$51.80 (RM218.18) at the start of 2021 to US$85.80 (RM356.41) on Oct 20. It is a level we have not seen since 2018. Coal prices surged by 189% while natural gas spiked by 103% over the same period.
Expectations are that this bullish trend will last longer in parallel with the supply chain bottlenecks. Additionally, a colder winter in the northern hemisphere could mean added demand for heating oil. If the situation continues well into 2022, the full-year average price of Brent could surpass US$70 (RM290.78) per barrel.
Winners of surging prices
The surging prices of crude oil spell a flood of cash for oil exporters and producers, especially big players such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Canada. Oil and gas producers in the Arabian Gulf are bound to reap the advantages of higher oil prices this year.
For instance, both the UAE and Qatar are expected to see their net exports climbing more than 10% of gross domestic product compared with 2020, followed by Saudi Arabia.
Petroleum and commodity exporters can expect the gains to easily offset the losses they made in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak, obliterating demand for commodities.
According to estimates, a sizeable US$280bil (RM1.16 trillion) transfer from exporters to importers when prices shrank last year will be offset by as much as US$550bil (RM2.28 trillion) in 2021, about twice the size of the losses.