Top crude exporter Saudi Arabia's one million barrel per day (bpd) oil output cut is unlikely to underpin a "sustainable price increase" into the high $80s-low $90s with weak fundamentals pointing to lower prices by year-end, Citi analysts said in a note on Tuesday.
Brent gained as much as $2.60 on Monday after Saudi Arabia, OPEC's de facto leader, said its output would drop by 1 million bpd to 9 million bpd in July. However, oil prices came off those gains to edge lower on Tuesday.
"We see average quarterly prices fairly range-bound for the year, averaging $81 for Brent in both H1 and H2 but with the potential to range between $72 and $90," Citi said in the note.
Citi analysts cited factors such as weaker demand and stronger non-OPEC supply by year-end, potential recessions in the U.S. and Europe, and lower growth in China which could see prices end up lower rather than higher this year and in 2024.
OPEC+, which groups the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia, currently has cuts of 3.66 million bpd in place, amounting to 3.6% of global demand, to limit supply into 2024 as the group seeks to boost flagging oil prices.
But "it would take surprisingly better coordinated action among OPEC+ producers to tighten markets... The likelihood that Saudi Arabia would tackle this on its own on a sustained basis is quite low," Citi said.
Citi said if Saudi Arabia kept production at 9 million bpd throughout the third quarter of this year, the deficit during the period would widen to above 1 million bpd and leave global oil markets finely balanced in 2023 - however, markets would still face a large surplus in 2024.
Other analysts said a global shortfall in supply is set to deepen in the third quarter following the kingdom's output cuts and could push Brent towards $100 a barrel by year-end.
(Reporting by Kavya Guduru in Bengaluru; editing by Jason Neely)