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2017 oil prices seen capped below $60/barrel by strong dollar, U.S. shale

Oil prices

A strong US dollar and recovering shale industry are expected to put pressure on oil prices in 2017.  Encana photo.

Oil prices expected to improve during each subsequent quarter

 By Vijaykumar Vedala

Jan. 3 (Reuters) – Oil prices will gradually rise toward $60 per barrel by the end of 2017, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday, with further upside capped by a strong dollar, a likely recovery in U.S. oil output and possible non-compliance by OPEC with agreed cuts.

Brent crude futures will average $57.43 a barrel in 2017, according to 29 analysts and economists polled by Reuters. The current forecast is marginally higher than the $57.01 forecast in the previous survey.

Average Brent prices are expected to improve with each subsequent quarter, starting with $53.88 in the first, to $56.61 in Q2, $58.79 in Q3 and $59.68 in the fourth quarter. Brent has averaged about $45 per barrel in 2016.

 “Crude prices should trade most of the time above their 2016 average. A stronger upside potential should become evident especially in the second half when the market fundamentals will record a significant improvement (under the assumption of strong compliance to the OPEC deal),” said Intesa SanPaolo analyst Daniela Corsini.

Earlier this month, OPEC and non-OPEC producers reached their first deal since 2001 to curtail oil output jointly and ease a global glut after more than two years of low prices that overstretched many budgets and spurred unrest in some countries.

While the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has agreed to reduce output by 1.2 million barrels per day from January 1, 2017, producers from outside the 13-country member group agreed to cut production by 558,000 barrels per day.

“We expect the deal to only be partly implemented, many of the non-OPEC countries are likely to renege as are many of the smaller OPEC members, but cuts should still be large enough to help rebalance the market,” said Capital Economics analyst Thomas Pugh.

An acceleration in the market rebalancing could be achieved and the process could be completed by mid-2017 if the oil producers group sticks to the terms of the historic agreement, analysts said.

However, an increase in U.S. shale production, a stronger dollar in the wake of expected interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve and easing of geo-political tensions in Libya and Nigeria could limit any major gains in oil prices, they added.

“A broad risk for the recovery of oil prices is the U.S. dollar, which has risen to multi-year high levels… The greenback will eventually mount pressure on oil prices and may curb any gains seen from tighter fundamentals,” said Giorgos Beleris, analyst at Thomson Reuters Oil Research and Forecasts.

The poll forecast U.S. light crude will average $55.71 a barrel in 2017. WTI has averaged about $43.47 in 2016.

Raymond James had the highest 2017 Brent forecast at $83 per barrel, while JBC Energy had the lowest at $49.81.

(Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru, editing by Louise Heavens)

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