The chief executive officer of globally reputed trading company, Vitol, Russel Hardy has said global demand for crude oil could hit record highs this year – potentially driving prices back up to $100 a barrel

In an interview with Bloomberg yesterday, Russel said demand is expected to hit record levels in the second half of the year. “The prospect of higher prices in the second half of the year, in the sort of $90-$100 range, is a real possibility,” Mr. Hardy said

The view factors in a jump in demand due to the reopening of China’s economy, as well as an expected drop in inventories over the coming months. Hardy said demand for most oil products is surpassing pre-pandemic levels, while gasoline is “fairly flat” and jet fuel lingers “in catch-up mode” as travel gradually picks up.

Also Read: ‘If Market Changes, OPEC+ Would Adjust Output Policy’

Brent crude, the international benchmark, has had a choppy start to the year, declining by about 5% so far in 2023 as high inflation, rising interest rates and recession fears all weighed on demand.

Yesterday, Brent crude fell 1.4% to trade around $81.75 a barrel. The last time it traded within the $90-$100 range was in November.
Incidentally, Hardy’s forecast has been echoed by other oil experts, including Saxo Bank’s head of commodity strategy, Ole Hansen. “We do not claim to be smarter than one of the world’s biggest shippers and with the OPEC and IEA pointing toward the same trajectory – anything but a deepening economic slowdown or a peace deal in Ukraine would in our view support higher prices later in the year,” Hansen told Insider.

“Not least supported by OPEC+ being in no hurry to add barrels into higher prices and Russia increasingly being challenged to maintain current production levels,” he continued, and echoed Hardy’s call that crude prices could reach $100 later this year.

Also Read: Natural Gas Futures Contracts Suggest Europe’s Energy Crisis Isn’t Over

OPEC+, or the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies — including Russia, began cutting oil output last year in a bid to shore up declining prices.

Last December, the group said it would stick to its production cut target set last October, which is to slash output by 2 million barrels a day till the end of 2023.

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