Publishing the December monthly oil report this week, OPEC reiterated its optimism for 2024 oil demand growth of 2.46 million b/d and blamed the recent drop in oil prices on exaggerated demand concerns impacting market sentiment. 

As the price of Brent rose toward $77 per barrel, the oil markets are on course for the first week-on-week increase in eight weeks. Despite continuous attacks on tankers in the Red Sea, it was the United States that provided most of the bullish sentiment. First, the Federal Reserve’s pledge to start cutting interest rates next year buoyed the markets in general before a larger-than-expected US inventory draw pushed oil even higher. So for now, seeing Brent slide down to the low 70s is off the table, but for how long?

Lower rebates weaken fuel oil’s China appeal.Chinese imports of fuel oil as a refinery feedstock have doubled this year to 478,000 b/d, however might decline into 2024 as Beijing has curbed tax rebates for such cargoes, heretofore completely exempted from paying consumption tax.

Brazil’s offshore auction sparks mostly domestic interest. Brazil’s oil regulator offered more than 600 exploration blocks in its latest offshore auction, however managed to assign only 192 out of them, with drilling newcomer Elysian winning a whopping 122 and Petrobrastaking 29 blocks.

BP clears up gasoline spill. A pipeline leak in the BP-operatedOlympic Pipeline has led to an oil spill of some 25,000 gallons of gasoline near Mount Vernon in Washington state, with the UK-based major restarting the pipeline upon regulatory approval.

The Biden administration has finalized a comprehensive decommissioning plan to remove all decades-old oil and gas platforms off the coast of California, as 8 out of the 23 platforms no longer and the remaining 15 produce a mere 7,000 b/d.

French banks the first to stop fossil funding. France’s second-largest bankCredit Agricole announced that it would stop financing new fossil fuel projects and publish its oil industry exposure as part of its new climate goals, joining French banking peer Banque Postale in doing so.