Morgan Stanley cuts Q1 2022 Brent oil forecast on Omicron risks

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A maze of crude oil pipes and valves is pictured during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, U.S. June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Richard Carson//File Photo

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Nov 29 (Reuters) - Morgan Stanley on Monday cut its first quarter 2022 Brent crude price forecast to $82.50 per barrel from $95 on market expectations that the Omicron coronavirus variant could turn into a major headwind for oil demand.

The market appears to be pricing in the possibility that the new variant could prompt restrictions and cut oil demand, amid expectations of oversupply driven by planned release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve adding to monthly output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+), the bank said in a note.

Oil rebounded by almost 5% on Monday to $76 a barrel as some investors viewed Friday's more than 10% slump in oil on concern about the Omicron coronavirus variant as overdone. read more

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But while the beginning of next year could see excess supply, spare oil capacity was likely to be eroded by the end of 2022 as inventories draw down further from already low levels.

OPEC+ may not increase supply by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) since the group does not have the capacity to do so, nor the incentive to oversupply the market, the bank said, adding the market was expected to be more under-supplied in 2022 than the International Energy Agency has suggested.

"Brent prices rising above recent highs again is probably something from mid 2022 and beyond," the bank said, while raising its third quarter Brent outlook to $90 a barrel from $85. read more

The market could see a supply deficit in 2023 that would deepen further, it added.

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Reporting by Seher Dareen and Arpan Varghese, editing by David Evans

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