Oil inches up amid Middle East tensions

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KEY POINTS
  • Brent crude futures rose 4 cents to $63.30 a barrel by 0335 GMT.
  • The international benchmark rose more than 1% in the previous session, following Iran’s seizure of a British tanker last week that stoked fears of supply disruptions from the energy-rich Gulf.
  • West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were unchanged at $56.22 per barrel.
Reusable: Oil pump jack in North Dakota 150128
An oil pumpjack operates near Williston, North Dakota.
Andrew Cullen | Reuters

Oil prices edged higher on Tuesday amid lingering concerns about possible supply disruptions in the Middle East, but an overall weaker demand outlook kept a lid on gains, helped by a vow by the International Energy Agency (IEA) to take swift action to keep global oil markets adequately supplied.

Brent crude futures rose 4 cents to $63.30 a barrel by 0335 GMT. The international benchmark rose more than 1% in the previous session, following Iran’s seizure of a British tanker last week that stoked fears of supply disruptions from the energy-rich Gulf.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were unchanged at $56.22 per barrel.

“Downward revisions on global oil demand, along with rising challenges in the macroeconomic environment, have capped bullish gains for oil prices,” said Benjamin Lu Jiaxuan, commodities analyst at Singapore-based Phillip Futures.

Meanwhile, the IEA said it was closely monitoring developments in the Strait of Hormuz as relations between Iran and Britain remain tense.

“The IEA is ready to act quickly and decisively in the event of a disruption to ensure that global markets remain adequately supplied,” it said, adding that executive director Fatih Birol has been in talks with IEA members, associate governments and other nations.

“Consumers can be reassured that the oil market is currently well supplied, with oil production exceeding demand in the first half of 2019, pushing up global stocks by 900,000 barrels per day,” the IEA said in a statement.

The potential for disruption in the Middle East has come amid a more fundamental souring of market sentiment in recent days, with hedge funds, producers and traders all taking a more bearish tack in response to what they see as weakness in worldwide demand.

“Lower global demand estimates…have hit crude prices in the last couple of weeks,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“Weather and geopolitical disruptions have been temporary and only the OPEC+ deal has given traders clarity with the group’s commitment to reducing the oil glut at their expense.”

The ‘OPEC+’ deal refers to coordinated efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and some non-affiliated producers, including Russia, to withhold supplies since the start of the year to prop up prices.

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.
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An Iraqi worker gauges gas emissions from an oil pipe at the Daura oil refiner
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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 prices gain, US crude little changed after inventory data

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KEY POINTS
  • West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 6 cents at $57.68 by 0327 GMT, having fallen 3.3% on Tuesday.
  • Brent crude futures were up 25 cents at $64.60, or 0.4%. They ended down 3.2% in the previous session.
Reusable: Idled oil drilling rigs North Dakota
Stacked rigs are seen along with other idled oil drilling equipment in Dickinson, North Dakota, June 26, 2015.
Andrew Cullen | Reuters

Oil prices rose on Wednesday after steep falls in the previous session, although U.S. crude trailed gains for international benchmark Brent after U.S. crude inventories fell less than expected.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 6 cents at $57.68 by 0327 GMT, having fallen 3.3% on Tuesday.

Brent crude futures were up 25 cents at $64.60, or 0.4%. They ended down 3.2% in the previous session.

Crude inventories fell by 1.4 million barrels in the week to July 12 to 460 million, industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) said on Tuesday. That compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 2.7 million barrels.

Official data is due out later today from the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). If it confirms the fall it will be the fifth consecutive weekly decline, the longest stretch since the beginning of 2018.

“Market participants are looking ahead to the weekly IEA oil inventory data for the U.S., which is expected to show yet another draw down,” Abhishek Kumar, head of analytics at Interfax Energy in London.

“Nevertheless, oil production in the Gulf of Mexico returning to normal following Hurricane Barry will limit price gains, ” Kumar said.

More than half the daily crude production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico remained offline on Tuesday in the wake of Hurricane Barry, the U.S. drilling regulator said, as most oil companies were re-staffing facilities to resume production.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said 1.1 million barrels per day of oil, or 58% of the region’s total, and 1.4 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas output remained shut.

The smaller than expected decline in crude stocks suggested production shut-ins caused by Hurricane Barry late last week had little impact on inventories.

Gasoline stocks also fell, declining by 476,000 barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 925,000-barrel decline.

Distillate fuels stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 6.2 million barrels, compared with expectations for a 613,000-barrel gain, the API data showed.

Oil prices fell on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump said progress has been made with Iran, signaling tensions could ease in the Middle East.

However, Iran later denied it was willing to negotiate over its ballistic missile program, contradicting a claim by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and appearing to undercut Trump’s statement.

Tensions between the United States and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program have lent support to oil futures, given the potential for a price spike should the situation deteriorate.

Oil prices jump as US crude stocks fall, Middle East worries add support

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Reuters

KEY POINTS
  • Front-month Brent crude futures, international benchmark for oil, were up 1.3% at $65.91 by 0341 GMT. They earlier touched their highest since May 31 at $66 a barrel.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $58.98 per barrel, up 1.8% from their last settlement. WTI earlier hit its strongest level since May 30 at $59.03 a barrel.
Reusable: Oil pump jack in North Dakota 150128
An oil pumpjack operates near Williston, North Dakota.
Andrew Cullen | Reuters

Oil prices rose more than 1% on Wednesday to their highest in nearly a month as industry data showed U.S. crude stockpiles fell more than expected, underpinning a market already buoyed by worries over a potential U.S.-Iranconflict.

Front-month Brent crude futures, international benchmark for oil, were up 1.3% at $65.91 by 0341 GMT. They earlier touched their highest since May 31 at $66 a barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $58.98 per barrel, up 1.8% from their last settlement. WTI earlier hit its strongest level since May 30 at $59.03 a barrel.

Analysts said the gains were mainly driven by American Petroleum Institute (API) data showing a fall in U.S. crude inventories.

U.S. crude stockpiles fell by 7.5 million barrels in the week ended June 21 to 474.5 million, compared with analyst expectations for a decline of 2.5 million barrels, the data showed. Crude stocks at U.S. delivery hub Cushing, Oklahoma, fell by 1.3 million barrels.

“Oil prices went ballistic after the API report,” said Stephen Innes, a managing partner at Vanguard Markets.

“Oil prices have been squeezing higher on escalating tensions in the Middle East. But with late-day draws showing up in the API report, this is a strong signal for the energy market, ” Innes said.

The data came as traders watched for any signs that tensions between the United States and Iran could escalate into military conflict.

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to obliterate parts of Iran if it attacked “anything American”, in a new war of words with Iran. Tehran has condemned a fresh round of U.S. sanctions as “mentally retarded.”

Bilateral tensions between the two have spiked anew after Iran shot down a U.S. drone last week in the Gulf. Relations have been tense since Washingtonblamed attacks on oil tankers just outside the Gulf in May and June on Iran, while Tehran has repeatedly said it had no role in the incidents.

Conflict between Washington and Tehran has stoked fears that shipments passing through the Strait of Hormuz — the world’s busiest oil supply route — could be disrupted.

Seeking to calm a nervous market, the head of national oil company Saudi Aramco said on Tuesday the company can meet the oil needs of customers using its spare capacity.

Oil slips to $71, hit by talk of higher OPEC+ production

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Reuters

KEY POINTS
  • Analysts expect U.S. crude stockpiles to have risen by 1.9 million barrels last week, the fourth straight increase.
  • Oil fell Monday after comments from Russia raised concern the OPEC-led supply-cutting pact may not be renewed.
  • OPEC and its allies are due to meet in June to decide whether to continue the arrangement.
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Andrew Burton | Getty Images

Brent oil slipped to around $71 a barrel on Tuesday, pressured by expectations of higher U.S. inventories and concern about Russia’s willingness to stick with OPEC-led supply cuts.

Analysts on average expect U.S. crude stockpiles to have risen by 1.9 million barrels last week, the fourth straight increase. The first of this week’s stockpile reports is due at 2030 GMT from the American Petroleum Institute.

“We have already seen these inventories going higher in the last week’s print,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at TF Global Markets in London.

“The rising inventory data has raised many questions for investors – no one wants to see the oil glut again.”

Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down 12 cents at $71.06 a barrel at 0801 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude gained 6 cents to $63.46.

While OPEC-led supply cuts have boosted Brent by more than 30 percent this year, gains have been limited by worries that slowing economic growth could weaken demand for fuel.

Oil also fell on Monday after comments from Russia raised concern the OPEC-led supply-cutting pact may not be renewed. Russia and the producer group may decide to boost output to fight for market share with the United States, TASS news agency ited Finance Minister Anton Siluanov as saying.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia, an alliance known as OPEC+, have been cutting output since Jan. 1. They decide in June whether to continue the arrangement.

“There is a growing concern that Russia will not agree on extending production cuts and we could see them officially abandon it in the coming months,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.