Will 2019 Be More Dangerous for the U.S. and China?

Another naval incident in the South China Sea has the U.S. claiming freedom of navigation and China claiming provocation. Military conflict remains unlikely, but relations between China and the U.S. are fraying beyond just the trade war. The continued economic clash with Washington coupled with a Chinese economic slowdown, policy uncertainty in Washington, and the possibility of provocative actions by Taiwan or Japan could precipitate more serious conflict.

OPEC Cuts and Hopes for Impact

The production allocations for OPEC/non-OPEC countries provide a bit more clarity than the December 7th Declaration of Cooperation. The document indicates a cut of 320,000 b/d for Saudi Arabia – smaller than the 450,000 b/d originally implied. On balance, we believe OPEC will get close to compliance. Non-OPEC participants to the deal, led by Russia, are unlikely to comply fully. For more on the market impact see our just-released Global Crude Oil Outlook.

Transport Fuel Demand Continues to Slow

In 2019, European demand for transport fuels will rise after increasing in 2017 and 2018. While this year’s demand growth deceleration was led by diesel, next year gasoline and jet fuel will be largely responsible. However, with demand for all three major fuels continuing to rise and regional throughput slated to fall, slowing demand growth will not prove too bearish.