Oil prices nod up as US fuel supply falls and sanctions on Iran loom

CNBC

  • Oil prices were up slightly on Thursday, extending their gains from the prior session from a drop in U.S. crude inventories and expected disruptions to supply from Iran and Venezuela.
  • The International Energy Agency said global oil markets are likely to tighten toward the end of 2018.

Oil prices inched up on Thursday, extending solid gains from the previous session on a fall in U.S. crude inventories and expected disruptions to supply from Iran and Venezuela.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $77.21 per barrel at 0114 GMT, up 7 cents from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 14 cents at $69.65 a barrel.

The rises came after crude hit multi-week highs during the previous session.

U.S. commercial crude inventories fell by 2.6 million barrels in the week to Aug. 24, to 405.79 million barrels. U.S. production was flat from the previous week’s record 11 million barrels per day (bpd).

“Oil prices rose on the back of an unexpected U.S. inventory draw, the second week in a row of declines, together with gasoline demand reaching a record high,” said William O’Loughlin, investment analyst at Australia’s Rivkin Securities.

“The looming sanctions against Iran are beginning to impact oil supply lifting crude prices,” added Alfonso Esparza, analyst at futures brokerage OANDA.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), of which Iran is the third biggest producer, will discuss in December whether it can compensate for a sudden drop in Iranian oil supply after U.S sanctions against Tehran start in November, the head of Iraq’s state-oil marketer SOMO, Alaa al-Yasiri, said on Wednesday.

Iran’s August crude oil exports will likely drop to just over 2 million bpd, versus a peak of 3.1 million bpd in April, as importers bow to American pressure to cut orders.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) warned of a tightening market towards the end of the year, due to a combination of supply concerns, such as Iran and also Venezuela, and strong demand especially in Asia.

“Definitely there are some worries that oil markets can tighten towards the end of this year,” the IEA’s chief Fatih Birol told Reuters on Wednesday.

Crude oil exports in crisis-struck OPEC-member Venezuela have halved in recent years to only around 1 million bpd.

Oil prices climb on tightening US market

CNBC

  • Oil prices edged up on Wednesday.
  • Prices were lifted by a report of declining U.S. fuel inventories amid the ongoing crude supply outage at Syncrude Canada in Alberta.

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Oil prices edged up on Wednesday, lifted by a report of declining U.S. fuel inventories amid the ongoing crude supply outage at Syncrude Canada in Alberta, which usually supplies the United States.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $74.60 a barrel at 0044 GMT, up 46 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their last settlement. WTI the previous day hit its highest since November 2014 at $75.27 a barrel.

Brent crude futures were at $77.82 per barrel, up 6 cents from their last close.

Trading activity is expected to by limited on Wednesday due to the U.S. Independence Day holiday.

U.S. crude inventories fell by 4.5 million barrels in the week to June 29 to 416.9 million barrels, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday. Gasoline and distillate stocks, which include diesel and heating oil, were also down, the API said.

Traders said the decline in fuel inventories was largely down to the outage at Syncrude Canada’s 360,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil sands facility near Fort McMurray, Alberta, which is expected to last through July.

Oil market disruptions and limited supply can't keep oil prices at bay

Oil market disruptions and limited supply can’t keep oil prices at bay  

Outside North America, looming U.S. sanctions against major oil exporter Iran were the focus of attention.

The U.S. government plans to shut Iran’s oil exports out of the market from November, demanding that all countries stop buying its oil.

To make up for potential shortfalls in supply from Iran sanctions as well as other disruptions including Libya and Venezuela, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has agreed with Russia and other oil-producing non-OPEC members to raise output from July.

OPEC-member Iran, however, has warned it would not accept other producers reaping the benefits by taking its market share.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday said it was “unwise to imagine that some day all producer countries will be able to export their surplus oil and Iran will not be able to export its oil.”

OPEC ministers agree to raise oil production but don’t say by how much

CNBC

  • OPEC ministers announced a deal on Friday that will increase oil supplies from the producer group.
  • Producers agreed to start pumping more so that they are no longer overshooting the production limits they agreed to in November 2016.
  • Analysts say the agreement is likely to add around 600,000 to 800,000 barrels a day to the market, helping to tame oil prices that have soared to multi-year highs recently.

OPEC reaches deal to hike oil output

OPEC reaches deal to hike oil output  

OPEC ministers announced a deal on Friday that will increase oil supplies from the producer group, which has been capping output in order to balance the market and boost prices for the last 18 months.

The agreement came after a week of tense negotiation at OPEC’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia faced the challenge of convincing a handful of reluctant producers including IranIraq and Venezuela to support an output hike.

While OPEC avoided the disastrous outcome of ending the week without a deal, it left the oil market somewhat disappointed by declining to announce a hard figure.

“With the looming threat of an Iran walkout, the best you could get was deliberate ambiguity,” said Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

On Friday, OPEC members agreed to start pumping more oil, though the agreement will not end the group’s 18-month-old deal to limit output. Instead the producers are seeking to cut no deeper than 1.2 million bpd, the target they set in November 2016.

OPEC reaches deal to hike output

OPEC reaches deal to hike output  

OPEC’s official statement said members agreed to return to 100 percent compliance with the 2016 deal beginning on July 1. The group said compliance reached 152 percent in May 2018, which means OPEC was cutting about 600,000 bpd more than it intended.

Ahead of the official decision, sources said the group was aiming to restore about 1 million bpd to the market. However, industry sources familiar with the oil cartel’s deliberations said the actual increase is likely to total around two-thirds of Saudi Arabia’s target.

That’s because some OPEC members would be unable to sufficiently ramp up crude production. Analysts say supply increases are more likely to fall in a range between 600,000 to 800,000 bpd.

OPEC’s agreement with Russia and other producers to limit oil output has helped to clear a global supply overhang that weighed on prices for years.

However, OPEC faced pressure to increase output from President Donald Trump and big consumers like India after the cost of crude soared to multi-year highs, boosted by strong demand, dwindling output from Venezuela and renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Oil prices shot up on Friday as details of the deal leaked ahead of the statement. John Kilduff, founding partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital, said the lack of clarity in the official statement around a production target was boosting crude futures.

What is OPEC?

What is OPEC?  

“They definitely came up short, relative to expectations,” he told CNBC. “A headline touting … 1 million barrels of additional output would have made a difference.”

The group also did not explain how it would allocate the production increases across its 14 members. That has been a sticking point all week because only a handful of members like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have the ability to increase output.

“How is it allocated? I think that is not yet decided due to the fact that there are differences between certain countries,” UAE’s Energy and Industry Minister Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei said at a press conference following the meeting.

Mazrouei, who currently serves as chairman and president of OPEC, added that it “would not make sense if we allocated production to a country that cannot produce it, so we avoided, I think, having allocations from that perspective.”

The holdout through the week was Iran, OPEC’s third biggest oil producer. The country sought to avoid a large production increase, which would weigh on prices at a time when Iran’s exports are expected to drop sharply as U.S. sanctions take effect in the coming months.

Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, pushed OPEC to include a statement in the communique criticizing U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, but the group rebuffed the demand.

“OPEC isn’t a political organization. Everybody pushed back on that ” Nigerian petroleum minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu told CNBC.

President Donald Trump participates in a roundtable discussion about trade in Duluth, Minnesota, June 20, 2018.

Trump urges OPEC to increase output  

The members’ vastly differing relations with the United States loomed over the meeting following reports that Washington asked its Saudi allies to hike output prior to restoring sanctions on Iran.

Trump also directly blamed OPEC’s production cuts for boosting oil prices in a pair of recent tweets. On Friday, the president again urged the group to “keep prices down” at its meeting, even though his decision to sanction Iran was a major factor in boosting the cost of crude.

OPEC is scheduled to meet with Russia and several other producers on Saturday to discuss their role in easing production limits.

The wider producer alliance has sought to keep 1.8 million bpd off the market. But output among the 24 nations has actually fallen by about 2.8 million bpd, due largely to cratering production in Venezuela and supply disruptions elsewhere.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Friday morning that no-one should expect to see an “immediate flood” of oil coming back onto the market following the meeting.

He also warned the world could face a supply deficit of 1.8 million bpd in the second half of 2018 and that it was OPEC’s responsibility to alleviate consumers’ concerns.

Read OPEC’s full press release here.

Oil prices rise on ongoing Venezuelan supply trouble

CNBC

  • Oil prices rose on Friday, driven up as Venezuela struggles to meet its supply obligations.
  • One of the key features of oil markets recently has been the widening discount of U.S. WTI crude versus Brent.
  • Brent has been pushed up by production cuts led by OPEC and Russia.

An oil pump jack in Gonzales, Texas.

Getty Images
An oil pump jack in Gonzales, Texas.

Oil prices rose on Friday, driven up as Venezuela struggles to meet its supply obligations and by ongoing voluntary output cuts led by producer cartel OPEC.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $77.45 per barrel at 0051 GMT, up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 19 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $66.14 a barrel.

Prices were pushed up by supply trouble in Venezuela, where state-owned oil firm PDVSA is struggling to clear a backlog of around 24 million barrels of crude waiting to be shipped to customers.

Out of sync

Despite this, oil markets are not unanimously bullish.

One of the key features of oil markets recently has been the widening discount of U.S. WTI crude versus Brent, which has almost quadrupled since February to $11.40 per barrel, its steepest discount since 2015.

“This is occurring because of the rapid increase in production from U.S.shale coupled with the tightening of supplies elsewhere through the actions of OPEC and Russia,” said William O’Loughlin, investment analyst at Australia’s Rivkin Securities.

Brent has been pushed up by voluntary production cuts led by the Middle East dominated producer cartel of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and by top producer Russia, which were put in place in 2017.

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The group and Russia are due to meet at its headquarters in Vienna on June 22 to discuss production policy.

Looming new U.S. sanctions against major oil exporter Iran have further tightened international oil markets.

In North America, however, surging U.S. output has pressured WTI crude futures.

U.S. crude oil production hit another record last week at 10.8 million barrels per day (bpd).

That’s a 28 percent gain in two years, or an average 2.3 percent growth rate per month since mid-2016 and puts the United States close to becoming the world’s biggest crude oil producer, edging nearer to the 11 million bpd churned out by Russia.

Oil prices rise on Venezuelan supply troubles, but US output surges

CNBC

  • Oil prices rose on Thursday to shake off some of the previous session’s losses.
  • Venezuela, an OPEC member, is nearly a month behind in shipping crude to customers from its main oil export port, according to Reuters data.
  • Venezuela’s supply trouble comes amid production cuts by OPEC to tighten the market and prop up prices.

Oil fracking

David McNew | Getty Images

Oil prices rose on Thursday to shake off some of the previous session’s losses, supported by plunging exports by OPEC-member Venezuela.

Brent crude futures were up 33 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $75.69 a barrel at 0101 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 38 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $65.11 a barrel. It ended the previous session 1.2 percent lower at $64.73 a barrel.

Venezuela, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is nearly a month behind in shipping crude to customers from its main oil export port, according to Reuters data, as chronic delays threaten to breach state-run PDVSA’s crude supply contracts if they are not quickly cleared.

Tankers waiting to load more than 24 million barrels of crude, almost as much as PDVSA shipped in April, are sitting off the country’s main oil port, according to the data. The backlog is so severe, PDVSA has told some customers it may declare force majeure, allowing it to temporarily halt contracts, if they do not accept new delivery terms.

“OPEC supply changes remain the biggest uncertainties in the market,” said Xi Jianrui, senior crude analyst with oil consultancy JLC said.

Crude oil inventories up 2.1 million barrels

Crude oil inventories up 2.1 million barrels  

Venezuela’s supply trouble comes amid voluntary production cuts by OPEC which have been in place since 2017 in order to tighten the market and prop up prices.

The group is due to meet at its headquarters in Vienna, together with top producer but non-OPEC member Russia, on June 22 to discuss production policy.

OPEC-member Iraq said on Wednesday that a production increase was not on the table as the market was stable and prices good.

This comment followed an unofficial request from the United States asking OPEC’s de-facto leader Saudi Arabia to boost output.

Outside OPEC, however, there were ongoing signs of rising output. U.S. crude oil production hit another record last week at 10.8 million barrels per day (bpd). That’s a 28 percent gain in two years, or an average 2.3 percent growth rate per month since mid-2016.

Surging U.S. production has helped widen WTI’s discount to Brent to more than $10 per barrel.

The United States is close to becoming the world’s biggest crude oil producer, edging nearer to the 11 million bpd churned out by Russia, with exports also surging.

U.S. crude inventories also rose, gaining 2.1 million barrels in the week to June 1, to 436.6 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.