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.

Oil dips as IMF lowers global growth outlook; eyes on US hurricane

CNBC

  • The International Monetary Fund downgraded its global economic growth forecasts for 2018 and 2019 on Tuesday.
  • Meanwhile, Hurricane Michael caused the shutdown of nearly 40 percent of U.S. Gulf of Mexico crude output.

Oil prices edged lower on Wednesday after the IMF lowered its global growth forecasts but prices were supported as Hurricane Michael churned towards Florida, causing the shutdown of nearly 40 percent of U.S. Gulf of Mexico crude output.

Brent crude futures were down 21 cents at $84.79 a barrel by 0434 GMT, after a 1.3 percent gain on Tuesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down by 34 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $74.62 a barrel, after rising nearly 1 percent in the previous session.

The International Monetary Fund downgraded its global economic growth forecasts for 2018 and 2019 on Tuesday, raising concerns that demand for oil products may slump as well.

Trade tensions and rising import tariffs were taking a toll on commerce, while emerging markets struggle with tighter financial conditions and capital outflows, the IMF said.

“Prices are peaking at the most opportunistic time given waning global growth narrative,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading APAC at OANDA in Singapore.

In the United States, nearly 40 percent of daily crude oil production was lost from offshore U.S. Gulf of Mexico wells on Tuesday because of platform evacuations and shut-ins ahead of Hurricane Michael.

Oil producers evacuated personnel from 75 platforms as the storm made its way through the central Gulf on the way to landfall on Wednesday on the Florida Panhandle.

The country’s largest privately owned crude terminal, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port LLC, said late on Tuesday it had halted operations at its marine terminal.

The facility is the only U.S. port able to fully load and unload tankers with a capacity of 2 million barrels of oil.

Companies turned off daily production of about 670,800 barrels of oil and 726 million cubic feet of natural gas by midday on Tuesday, according to offshore regulator the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

Iran’s crude exports fell further in the first week of October, according to tanker data and an industry source, as buyers sought alternatives ahead of U.S. sanctions that take effect on Nov. 4.

Industry and government data on U.S. crude inventories will be delayed by one day this week because of a public holiday on Monday. The American Petroleum Institute is due to release data on Wednesday, while the U.S. Energy Information Administration is due to publish on Thursday.

“There seems to more positive supply chatter in the equation this week, and even although we know its maintenance season the markets are so long positioned that we could see an outsized move on a big build,” Innes said.

Oil prices rise on signs that Iranian crude exports fall further

CNBC

  • Iran’s crude oil exports declined further in the first week of October, according to tanker data and an industry source.
  • The decline comes ahead of the re-imposition of sanctions by the U.S. on Iran in the coming weeks.

Oil prices rose on Tuesday as more evidence emerged that crude exports from Iran, OPEC’s third-largest producer, are declining in the run-up to the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions and as a hurricane moved across the Gulf of Mexico.

Brent crude was up 26 cents, 0.3 percent, at $84.17 a barrel by 0244 GMT. On Monday, Brent fell to a low of $82.66, but mostly recovered as investors bet China’s economic stimulus would boost crude demand. Brent rose to a four-year high of $86.74 last week.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down by 24 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $74.53 a barrel. WTI fell to as low as $73.07 in the previous session but closed just 5 cents lower.

Iran’s crude exports fell further in the first week of October, according to tanker data and an industry source, as buyers are seeking alternatives ahead of the start of the U.S. sanctions on Nov. 4 and creating a challenge to other OPEC oil producers as they seek to cover the shortfall.

The Islamic Republic exported 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude in that seven-day period, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. An industry source who also tracks exports said October shipments were so far below 1 million bpd.

That is down from at least 2.5 million bpd in April, before President Donald Trump in May withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposed sanctions. The figure also marks a further fall from 1.6 million bpd in September.

Last week, Saudi Arabia, the biggest producer among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), announced plans to lift crude output next month to 10.7 million bpd, a record.

“Iranian barrels are declining fast, and Saudi Arabia’s promise to balance will face a reality check in a month’s time,” J.P.Morgan said in an oil market note.

Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh on Monday called a Saudi claim that the kingdom could replace Iran’s crude exports “nonsense.”

“Iran’s oil cannot be replaced by Saudi Arabia nor any other country,” Zanganeh said, according to his ministry’s website.

Oil companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico shut down 19 percent of oil production as Hurricane Michael moved toward eastern Gulf states including Florida.

If current forecasts prove accurate, the hurricane would largely miss major producing assets in the Gulf, analysts said, but any change of track could widen the impact.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut its global economic growth forecasts for 2018 and 2019, saying that trade policy tensions and rising import tariffs were taking a toll on commerce while emerging markets struggle with tighter financial conditions and capital outflows.

Brent oil rises to four-year high ahead of Iran sanctions, traders eye more hikes

CNBC

  • Brent crude above $83 ahead of November Iran sanctions.
  • Investors eye $100 Brent — ANZ.
  • High prices, trade disputes threaten demand growth.

Brent crude oil prices rose to their highest since November 2014 on Monday ahead of U.S. sanctions against Iran, the third-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), that kick in next month.

Benchmark Brent crude oil futures rose to as much as $83.27 a barrel and were at $83.21 at 0339 GMT, up 48 cents, or 0.6 percent from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 32 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $73.57 a barrel.

WTI prices were supported by a report on Friday of a stagnant rig count in the United States, which points to a slowdown in U.S. crude production, which now rivals top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Brent was pushed up by looming sanctions against Iran, which will start targeting its oil sector from Nov. 4.

ANZ bank said on Monday that “the market is eyeing oil prices at $100 per barrel”.

In a sign that the financial market is positioning itself for further price rises, hedge funds increased their bullish wagers on U.S. crude in the week to Sept. 25, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) showed on Friday, increasing futures and options positions in New York and London by 3,728 contracts to 346,566 during the period.

In a further sign of the impact that the U.S. sanctions on Iran will have on the market, China’s Sinopec said its is halving loadings of Iranian crude oil this month. China is the biggest buyer of Iranian oil.

“If Chinese refiners do comply with U.S. sanctions more fully than expected, then the market balance is likely to tighten even more aggressively,” Edward Bell, commodity analyst at Emirates NBD bank wrote in a note published on Sunday.

U.S. President Donald Trump called Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Saturday, discussing ways to maintain sufficient supply once Iran’s exports are hit by sanctions.

“Until sizable supply is offered up by OPEC, ultimately traders will continue to push the envelope even more,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.

“Even if they (Saudi Arabia) wanted to bend to President Trump’s wishes, how much spare capacity does the Kingdom have?” asked Innes.

“We’re going to find out very soon as approximately 1.5 million barrels (per day) of Iranian oil is effectively going offline on Nov. 4. If the market senses that Saudi Arabia capacity is tapped out at 10.5 million bpd … oil prices will rocket higher with the flashy $100 per barrel price tag indeed a reasonable sounding target,” Innes said.

Looming slowdown?

With oil prices soaring, there are concerns over their inflationary effect on demand growth, especially in Asia’s emerging markets where weakening currencies are further adding to high fuel import costs.

Add the trade disputes between the United States and other major powers, especially China, and economic growth into 2019 could be eroded.

Growth in China’s manufacturing sector already sputtered in September as both external and domestic demand weakened, two surveys showed on Sunday.

In Japan, business confidence among big manufacturers declined in the last quarter its lowest in nearly a year, as firms felt the pinch from rising raw material costs and as global trade conditions worsened.