Oil drops after US inventory build, new output record

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Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Brent crude futures were down 18 cents, or 0.3%, at $63.88 a barrel by 0517 GMT, having dropped 0.3% on Wednesday.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 24 cents, or 0.4%, to $57.87, after falling 0.5% in the previous session.
GP: US Oil workers Oil Boom in Texas's Permian Basin 1
Workers extracting oil from oil wells in the Permian Basin in Midland, Texas on May 1, 2018.
Benjamin Lowy | Getty Images

Oil prices fell on Thursday, extending losses from the previous session after official data showed U.S. crude and gasoline stocks rose against expectations as production hit a record.

Brent crude futures were down 18 cents, or 0.3%, at $63.88 a barrel by 0517 GMT, having dropped 0.3% on Wednesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 24 cents, or 0.4%, to $57.87, after falling 0.5% in the previous session.

Crude stockpiles in the United States swelled 1.6 million barrels last week as production hit a record high of 12.9 million barrels per day (bpd) and refinery runs slowed, the Energy Information Administration said. Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a drop of 418,000 barrels.

More bearish was a 5.1 million-barrel rise in gasoline stocks, compared with forecasts for a 1.2 million-barrel gain.

“Stubbornly high U.S. crude inventories have seen oil prices ease in Asia today,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA. But “dips … are likely to be limited for now, as the U.S. holiday mutes activity,” he added.

Oil prices had risen this week on expectations that China and the United States, the world’s two biggest crude users, would soon sign a preliminary agreement, putting an end to their 16-month trade dispute.

Forces based in eastern Libya said on Wednesday they had driven rival factions from the 70,000-bpd El Feel oilfield after attacking the area with air strikes, leading to production being halted and raising some worries about supply.

In the United States, energy services company Baker Hughes reported that U.S. oil drillers reduced the number of drilling rigs for a record 12 months in a row.

Drillers cut three oil rigs in the week to Nov. 27, bringing the count down to 668, lowest since April 2017, Baker Hughes said in its report released a day early due to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

Oil gains as Middle East Gulf tensions flare, Libya oil field shut

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KEY POINTS
  • Brent crude futures climbed 85 cents, or 1.4%, at $63.32 a barrel by 0404 GMT. The international benchmark rose by $1 earlier.
  • West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 47 cents, or 0.8%, at $56.10 a barrel.
Reusable: Iraq Oil Daura oil refinery Bagdad 091105
An Iraqi worker gauges gas emissions from an oil pipe at the Daura oil refiner
Getty Images

Oil prices rose on Monday on concerns that Iran’s seizure of a British tanker last week may lead to supply disruptions in the Middle East and after Libyareported the shut down of its largest oil field.

Brent crude futures climbed 85 cents, or 1.4%, at $63.32 a barrel by 0404 GMT. The international benchmark rose by $1 earlier.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 47 cents, or 0.8%, at $56.10 a barrel.

WTI fell over 7% and Brent fell more than 6% last week.

“Falling global demand and rising U.S. stockpiles have helped turn oil charts very bearish, but that may not last as tensions remain high in the Persian Gulf,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York, said in a note.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Friday they had captured a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf in response to Britain’s seizure of an Iranian tanker earlier this month.

The move has increased the fear of potential supply disruptions in the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of Gulf, through which flows about one-fifth of the world’s oil supplies.

Britain was weighing its next moves on Sunday, with few good options apparent as a recording emerged showing that the Iranian military defied a British warship when it boarded and seized the ship.

A senior United States administration official said on Friday the U.S. will destroy any Iranian drones that fly too close to its ships.

A day earlier, the U.S. said one of its navy ships had “destroyed” an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz after the aircraft threatened the vessel, but Iran said it had no information about losing a drone.

Crude oil supply outages and curbs also helped lift prices higher.

“Oil prices got a small boost this morning after Libya’s (NOC) declared force majeure on Sharara crude loaded at Zawiya port,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets.

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) declared a force majeure on Saturday at the country’s largest oilfield, El Sharara, after it was shut down the previous day causing a production loss of about 290,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Meanwhile, data late last week showed shipments of crude oil from Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, fell to a 1-1/2 year low in May.

U.S. energy firms reduced the number of oil rigs operating for a third week in a row as drillers follow through on plans to cut spending amid a global supply glut. The United States is now the world’s largest oil producer.

Speculative money is flowing back into the oil markets in response to the escalating dispute between Iran and the United States and other western nations playing out in the Gulf waters along with the signs of falling supply.

Hedge funds and other money managers raised their combined futures and option’s positions on U.S. crude for a second week and increased their positions in Brent crude as well, according to data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Intercontinental Exchange.

Oil near 2019 highs after US ends all Iran sanction exemptions

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KEY POINTS
  • Brent crude futures were at $74.40 per barrel at 0239 GMT, up 0.5 percent from their last close and not far off a 2019 peak of $74.52 reached on Monday.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures hit their highest level since October 2018 at $65.95 per barrel before edging back to $65.89 by 0239 GMT, which was still up 0.5 percent from their last settlement.
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Flames emerge from a pipeline at the oil fields in Basra, southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, October 14, 2016.
Essam Al-Sudani | Reuters

Oil prices were near 2019 highs on Tuesday after Washington announced all Iran sanction waivers would end by May, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran.

Brent crude futures were at $74.40 per barrel at 0239 GMT, up 0.5 percent from their last close and not far off a 2019 peak of $74.52 reached on Monday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures hit their highest level since October 2018 at $65.95 per barrel before edging back to $65.89 by 0239 GMT, which was still up 0.5 percent from their last settlement.

The United States on Monday demanded that buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions, ending six months of waivers which allowed Iran’s eight biggest buyers, most of them in Asia, to continue importing limited volumes.

Before the reimposition of sanctions last year, Iran was the fourth-largest producer among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries(OPEC) at almost 3 million barrels per day (bpd), but April exports have shrunk well below 1 million bpd, according to ship tracking and analyst data in Refinitiv.

Barclay’s bank said in a note following the announcement that the decision took many market participants by surprise and that the move would “lead to a significant tightening of oil markets”.

The British bank added that Washington’s target to cut Iran oil exports to zero posed a “material upside risk to our current $70 per barrel average price forecast for Brent this year, compared with the year-to-date average of $65 per barrel”.

ANZ bank said in a note on Tuesday that “the decision is likely to worsen the ongoing supply woes being felt with Venezuelan sanctions, the OPEC supply cut, and intensifying conflict in Libya. ”

The move to tighten Iran sanctions comes amid other sanctions Washington has placed on Venezuela’s oil exports and also as producer club OPEC has led supply cuts since the start of the year aimed at tightening global oil markets and propping up crude prices.

Ellen Wald, non-resident senior fellow at the Global Energy Center of the Atlantic Council, said the United States “seem to expect” Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to replace the Iranian oil, but she added “that this is not necessarily the way Saudi Arabia sees it.”

Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest exporter of crude oil and OPEC’s de-facto leader. The group is set to meet in June to discuss its output policy.

“Should OPEC decide to end their supply cut program going into the second half of the year, this could limit oil’s upside in the coming months,” said Lukman Otunuga, analyst at futures brokerage FXTM.

Meanwhile, the Atlantic Council said the U.S. move would hurt Iranian citizens.

“We’re going to see their currency collapse more, more unemployment, more inflation,” said Barbara Slavin, director for the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, adding that the U.S. sanctions were “not going to bring Iran back to the (nuclear) negotiating table.”

Oil edges lower as supply concerns check losses

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Reuters

KEY POINTS
  • Oil prices edged lower on Monday after international benchmark Brent hit a fresh five-month high in the previous session, but concerns over global supplies provided a floor to losses.
  • Brent crude oil futures were at $71.40 a barrel at 0015 GMT, down 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $63.60 per barrel, down 29 cents, or 0.5 percent, from their last settlement. WTI rose 0.5 percent on Friday.
RT: Oil refinery Libya 131218
Ismail Zitouny | Reuters

Oil prices edged lower on Monday after international benchmark Brent hit a fresh five-month high in the previous session, but concerns over global supplies provided a floor to losses.

Brent crude oil futures were at $71.40 a barrel at 0015 GMT, down 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close. Brent closed up 1 percent on Friday when prices hit a high of $71.87 a barrel, the highest since Nov. 12.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $63.60 per barrel, down 29 cents, or 0.5 percent, from their last settlement. WTI rose 0.5 percent on Friday.

The head of Libya’s National Oil Corp warned on Friday that renewed fighting could wipe out crude production in the country.

“Supply side issues remained a concern for the market. Libyan rebel leader Khalifa Haftar moved forces closer to Tripoli,” ANZ Bank said in a research note.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies meet in June to decide whether to continue withholding supply. OPEC, Russia and other producers, an alliance known as OPEC+, are reducing output by 1.2 million bpd from Jan. 1 for six months.

OPEC’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, is considered keen to keep cutting, but sources within the group said it could raise output from July if disruptions continue elsewhere.

Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov was quoted by the TASS news agency as saying on Saturday that Russia and OPEC may decide to boost production to fight for market share with the United States but this would push oil prices as low as $40 per barrel.

Oil slips from five-month highs as economic worries counter tight market

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Reuters

KEY POINTS
  • International benchmark Brent futures touched their strongest level since last November at $71.34 per barrel on Tuesday, before losing ground to $70.96 per barrel by 0158 GMT, down 14 cents, or 0.2%, from their last close.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures also hit a November 2018 high, at $64.77 per barrel, before easing to $64.36, 4 cents below their last settlement.
RT: Offshore oil rig Norway 160211
An offshore oil rig off the coast of Norway.
Nerijus Adomaitis | Reuters

Oil prices eased on Tuesday, slipping away from 5-month highs reached earlier in the session as a sluggish economic outlook countered an otherwise tight market.

International benchmark Brent futures touched their strongest level since last November at $71.34 per barrel on Tuesday, before losing ground to $70.96 per barrel by 0158 GMT, down 14 cents, or 0.2%, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures also hit a November 2018 high, at $64.77 per barrel, before easing to $64.36, 4 cents below their last settlement.

Despite generally bullish oil markets, concerns that an economic slowdown this year will hit fuel consumption have been preventing crude prices from rising even higher, traders said.

And while fears of a global recession ebbed following strong U.S. jobs figures and improved Chinese manufacturing data late last week, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said there was still a “significant slowing in growth globally” in 2019.

The bank said it expects Brent and WTI to average $70 per barrel and $59 per barrel respectively in 2019, and $65 per barrel and $60 per barrel in 2020.

Despite the economic concerns, global oil markets are tight, and Brent and WTI crude oil futures have risen by 40% and 30% respectively since the start of the year.

“Renewed fighting in Libya … has seen Brent crude break above $70 per barrel, ” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.

Libya is a significant supplier of oil to Europe, producing around 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude in March.

A warplane attacked Tripoli’s only functioning airport on Monday as eastern forces advancing on the Libyan capital disregarded international appeals for a truce in the latest of a cycle of warfare since Muammar Gaddafi’s fall in 2011.

Hansen said the fighting in Libya added to an already tense market, which has been tightened this year by U.S. sanctions on oil exporters Iran and Venezuelaas well as supply cuts led by the producer club of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).