Supply Chain

Moody’s Slashes 2016 Forecast For Oil Prices

Moody's lowers its price assumptions for next year for crude oil benchmarks.
Katie Kuehner-HebertDecember 15, 2015

Moody’s on Tuesday slashed its 2016 forecast for oil prices, as OPEC continues to exacerbate oversupply by pumping oil.

Moody’s has lowered its price assumption in 2016 for Brent crude oil, the international benchmark, to $43 from $53 per barrel and for West Texas Intermediate crude, the North American benchmark, to $40 from $48 per barrel. The rating agency expects both prices to rise $5 per barrel in 2017 and 2018, according to the report “Oil and Natural Gas Industry — Global: Threat of Prolonged Oversupply Drives Prices Lower.”

“OPEC oil producers continue to produce without restraint as they compete for market share, exacerbating the currently saturated markets,” Moody’s senior vice president Terry Marshall said in a press release. “Russia has also greatly increased production, and the possibility that sanctions will be lifted on Iran in 2016 could flood the market with even more supply.”

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Moody’s has also significantly reduced its medium-term price assumptions for Brent and WTI, to $63 per barrel and $60 per barrel, respectively.

The ratings agency forecasts that global oil demand will rise by roughly 1.3 million barrels per day in 2016, an increase from its previous assumptions, as oil consumption picks up in countries such as the United States, China, India, and Russia.

In a separate report, Moody’s said that it was maintaining its negative outlook on the integrated oil and gas, exploration and production, and drilling and oilfield services sectors, due to the prolonged period of oversupply keeping oil prices lower for longer.

“Low commodities prices and uncertainty about the pace of their recovery will continue to limit exploration and production activity in 2016, leading to spending cuts, stalled production growth, and volume declines,” said Steve Wood, Moody’s Managing Director of the oil and gas team. “And these cuts will in turn lead to lower revenue for drilling and oilfield services companies, which will face persistent equipment overcapacity and need to minimize capital expenditures just to operate near break-even cost levels.”

The integrated oil and gas sector will also need to further cut capital expenditures in 2016 despite a 20% cut in 2015, as the sector will have negative free cash flow through the next year, according to “Oil and Gas — Global: 2016 Outlook — All Regions and Sectors Facing Lower-for-Longer Environment.”