Regardless of whether Britain votes to leave the EU on Thursday, oil investors are likely to stay focused on how to counter the risk of further price slides.
Once global financial markets stabilize after the referendum result, analysts say the most likely near-term outlook for oil is decline, either through dollar strength against the pound in the event of “Brexit”, or through a renewed focus on oil supply and demand if Britain opts to stay in the EU.
The oil price has risen nearly 40 percent this year to around $50 a barrel, driven by unplanned outages around the world that have tempered a widely anticipated supply glut.
“Scenario A: there is ‘Brexit’, in which case we’re likely to see the commodities complex dragged down through the channel of a stronger dollar,” said BNP Paribas head of commodity strategy, Harry Tchilinguirian.
“Scenario B, there is a ‘Bremain’ outcome, in which case our scenario is basically an eventual shift in focus back to the fundamentals,” he added.
“Either way…it may be interesting to take up some insurance and buy downside protection.” BNP Paribas does not take a view on the likely outcome of the EU referendum.
Capital Economics chief economist and head of commodities research, Julian Jessop, says broader market reaction will depend on how much support a “leave” or a “remain” result has, but the response in oil is likely to be less nuanced.