Oil prices edge up, but set for weekly loss on stock build, trade row

CNBC

  • The U.S. crude futures and Brent crude futures contracts both increased on Friday but were on track for a second consecutive weekly decline.

Oil prices nudged higher on Friday on signs of surging demand in China, the world’s second-biggest oil user, though prices are set to fall for a second week amid concerns of the ongoing Sino-U.S. trade war is limiting overall economic activity.

Brent crude oil futures were trading at $79.51 per barrel at 0521 GMT, up 22 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 19 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $68.84 a barrel.

For the week, Brent crude was 1.1 percent lower while WTI futures were down 3.5 percent, putting both on track for a second consecutive weekly decline.

Refinery throughput in China, the world’s second-largest oil importer, rose to a record high of 12.49 million barrels per day (bpd) in September as some independent plants restarted operations after prolonged shutdowns over summer to shore up inventories, government data showed on Friday.

The refinery consumption may rise through the fourth quarter as several state-owned Chinese refiners return to service after maintenance.

Undermining the strong refinery data, China did on Friday report its weakest economic growth since 2009 in the third quarter, with gross domestic product expanding by only 6.5 percent, missing estimates.

The weak economic data raised concerns that the country’s trade war with United States is beginning to have an impact on growth, which may limit China’s oil demand.

The trade war concerns combined with surging U.S. oil stockpiles reported on Thursday are capping the day’s price gains.

U.S. crude stocks last week climbed 6.5 million barrels, the fourth straight weekly build, almost triple the amount analysts had forecast, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

“EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report was a complete shocker sending Oil markets spiralling lower amidst some concerning development for oil bulls,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading APAC at OANDA in Singapore.

Inventories rose sharply even as U.S. crude production slipped 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 10.9 million bpd last week due to the effects of offshore facilities closing temporarily for Hurricane Michael.

Meanwhile, Iranian oil exports may have increased in October when compared to the previous month as buyers rush to lift more cargoes ahead of looming U.S. sanctions that kick in on Nov. 4.

An unprecedented volume of Iranian crude oil is set to arrive at China’s northeast Dalian port this month and in early November before U.S. sanctions on Iran take effect, according to an Iranian shipping source and data on Refinitiv Eikon.

So far, a total of 22 million barrels of Iranian crude oil loaded on supertankers owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC) are expected to arrive at Dalian in October and November, the data showed. Dalian typically receives between 1 million and 3 million barrels of Iranian oil each month, according to data that dates back to January 2015.

US oil edges up after 3 percent drop on big stock build

CNBC

  • U.S. crude stocks increased by 6.5 million barrels in the previous week, the surge was the fourth straight weekly build and almost triple of what analysts had forecast, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Oil inched up on Thursday amid ongoing tensions over the death of a prominent Saudi journalist, with prices steadying after a big drop overnight due to a jump in U.S. crude stockpiles.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery was up 12 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $69.87 a barrel by 0413 GMT, after falling 3 percent in the previous session to settle below $70 for the first time in a month.

Front-month London Brent crude for December delivery was up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $80.18, having ended down 1.7 percent.

U.S. crude stocks rose 6.5 million barrels last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, the fourth straight weekly build and almost triple what analysts had forecast.

“The impact of the inventory-jump weighed on the market and oil seems bearish,” said Kaname Gokon, a trader in Japan.

“The United States may have to go ahead with sanctions on Saudi Arabia, which could push prices higher, but Russia and other producers are set to increase supplies.”

Inventories rose sharply even as U.S. crude production slipped 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 10.9 million bpd last week due to the effects of offshore facilities closing temporarily for Hurricane Michael.

U.S. lawmakers pointed the finger at the Saudi leadership over the disappearance of prominent Saudi critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, suggesting sanctions could be possible.

Saudi Arabia denies that it had any role in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Western pressure mounted on Riyadh to provide answers, but comments by President Donald Trump suggested the White House may not take additional action against the Saudis, particularly after Saudi Arabia said it will conduct an investigation.

Investors worry Saudi Arabia could use oil supply to retaliate against critics. But Saudi Arabia has assured OPEC that it is “committed, capable and willing” to ensure there will be no shortage in the oil market, OPEC’s secretary-general said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will struggle to resume oil production from jointly operated fields that produced some 500,000 bpd any time soon due to operational differences and souring political ties, sources said on Wednesday.

Signs that Iranian oil exports have been falling more steeply than some in the market expected amid looming U.S. sanctions have underpinned the oil market.

Oil prices edge up on surprise drawdown in US crude stockpiles

CNBC

  • U.S. crude inventories declined by 2.1 million barrels in the previous week, according to data from the American Petroleum Institute.

Oil prices extended gains into a fourth session on Wednesday, buoyed as industry data showed a surprise decline in U.S. crude inventories and as geopolitical tensions over the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist stoked supply worries.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $72.07 a barrel by 0255 GMT on Wednesday, having settled up 14 cents.

Brent crude was up 12 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $81.53 a barrel, after settling up 63 cents the session before. The global benchmark, which hit a more than two-week low late last week as equity markets dropped, is trading around $5 below a four-year high of $86.74 marked on Oct. 3.

U.S. crude inventories fell by 2.1 million barrels last week, compared with analyst expectations for a build of 2.2 million barrels, American Petroleum Institute data showed after Tuesday’s settlement.

“The market is reacting to the unexpected decline as inventories tend to rise at this time of year,” said Tomomichi Akuta, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting in Tokyo, adding that anxieties about the outlook for the global economy were capping gains.

U.S. gasoline stocks dropped by a larger-than-expected 3.4 million barrels, while distillate fuel stockpiles declined by a smaller-than-expected 246,000 barrels, the API data showed.

Inventory data from the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration is due at 1430 GMT on Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump gave Saudi Arabia the benefit of the doubt in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi even as U.S. lawmakers pointed the finger at the Saudi leadership and Western pressure mounted on Riyadh to provide answers.

Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said Saudi Arabia could cut as much as 500,000 barrels per day of crude production “as a warning shot should the U.S. opt to impose any type of sanction in response to the Khashoggi developments”.

Meanwhile, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo on Tuesday urged oil producing companies to increase capacities and invest more to meet future demand as spare oil capacity shrinks worldwide.

The Russian government is no longer capping oil output increases by local producers, one of the country’s top energy companies, Gazprom Neft, said on Tuesday.

The market has been supported by reports that Iranian crude exports may be falling faster than expected ahead of Nov. 4, the date U.s. sanctions on the commodity are due to start.

Oil prices rise on signs Iranian crude exports are falling further in October

CNBC

  • Iran’s exports of 1.33 million barrels per day of crude oil in the first two weeks of October, according to data from Refinitiv Eikon.
  • Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia continues to face political pressure over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Oil prices rose on Tuesday on signs Iranian oil exports this month have fallen from September ahead of U.S. sanctions against Tehran that are set to start in November.

International benchmark Brent crude for December delivery rose 27 cents, or 0.33 percent, to $81.05 per barrel by 0325 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for November delivery was up 12 cents at $71.90 a barrel.

Iran has exported 1.33 million barrels per day (bpd) to countries including India, China and Turkey in the first two weeks of October, according to Refinitiv Eikon data. That was down from 1.6 million bpd in September, the data showed.

The October exports are a sharp drop from the 2.5 million bpd exported in April before U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from a multi-lateral nuclear deal with Iran in May and ordered the re-imposition of economic sanctions on the country, the third-largest producer among the members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The sanctions on Iran’s petroleum sector will go into effect on Nov. 4.

“Uncertainties will remain until Nov. 4 when it would be clear whether the United States would want to cut Iran oil exports to zero or grant waivers,” said Vincent Hwang, commodity analyst at NH Investment & Securities in Seoul.

“Brent prices are likely stay in the range of $80 a barrel or slightly higher, while WTI prices are likely to be $70-$75 a barrel,” Hwang added.

Crude prices have also been supported by geopolitical tensions caused by the disappearance of a Saudi Arabian journalist in Turkey. Turkish official have alleged Saudi Arabian intelligence officers killed the journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Oct. 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened “severe punishment” for the kingdom if the journalist is found to have been killed. Trump dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia to meet with the country’s leader King Salman.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has denied the allegation. Saudi Arabian officials said it would retaliate against any actions taken over the Khashoggi case.

With the world’s only sizable spare oil output capacity, Saudi Arabia is expected to export more to offset the loss of Iranian oil supply from the sanctions.

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday at a conference in New Delhi that the kingdom is committed to meeting India’s rising oil demand and is the “shock absorber” for supply disruptions in the oil market.

The country is preparing to admit to causing the death of Khashoggi, according to CNN and New York Times reports on Monday.

“For now, concerns around the disappearance of a Saudi Arabian national appear to be limited to the political sphere,” a Houston-based consultancy Stratas Advisors said in a note.

But WTI prices could fall in the back half of the week, weighed by an increase in U.S. crude inventories, the note said.

U.S. crude stockpiles were forecast to have risen for the fourth straight week by about 1.1 million barrels in the week ended Oct.12, according to a Reuters poll ahead of reports from the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The API’s data is due for publication at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT) on Tuesday, and the EIA report is due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Wednesday.

Oil prices climb amid Saudi tensions, but demand outlook drags

CNBC

  • Saudi Arabia has been under international scrutiny following the disappearance of a prominent journalist who was a critic of the administration.

Crude oil futures rose on Monday as geopolitical tensions over the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist stoked worries about supply, although concerns about the long-term outlook for demand dragged on prices.

Crude markets were also supported in the wake of data that showed South Korea did not import any oil from Iran in September for the first time in six years, before U.S. sanctions against the Middle Eastern country take effect in November.

Brent crude had risen $1.01, or 1.26 percent, to 81.44 a barrel by 0424 GMT, on track for its biggest daily gain since Oct. 9.

U.S. crude futures climbed 80 cents, or 1.12 percent, to $72.14 a barrel, extending gains they racked up on Friday after hefty losses on Wednesday and Thursday.

“The market has again expressed concerns over geopolitical tensions in the Middle East after U.S. and Saudi traded comments over the disappearance of the Saudi journalist, leading to a jump in prices,” Wang Xiao, head of crude research with Guotai Junan Futures, wrote in a research note.

Saudi Arabia has been under pressure since Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Riyadh and a U.S. resident, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The kingdom would retaliate against possible economic sanctions taken by other states over the case, its state news agency SPA reported on Sunday quoting an official source.

Meanwhile, South Korea in September stopped importing Iranian oil for the first time in years.

“South Korea’s move to stop Iran oil imports is giving the market confidence on prices,” said Chen Kai, head of research at brokerage Shengda Futures.

Lingering geopolitical worries, trade concerns and a weaker economic outlook may pave the way for another week of volatile trading, Chen said, adding that Monday’s recovery in prices was “fragile”.

Putting downward pressure on oil prices, the International Energy Agency, the West’s energy watchdog, said in its monthly report that the market looked “adequately supplied for now” and trimmed its forecasts for world oil demand growth this year and next.

That comes after the secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) last week said the group sees the oil market as well supplied and that it was wary of creating a glut next year.