Wednesday, 19 September, 2018

Oil dips in nervous trading as US-China trade war looms

Oil Prices Up on Weak US Crude Inventory Oil prices inch up in face of tight market
Orlando Vargas | 09 July, 2018, 23:47

Refiners in China were the top buyers of American crude oil in May, and have been regular importers since the US revived domestic output and exports in recent years.

Oil prices gained on Monday following the data last week that showed USA crude inventories slumped to their lowest in as long as three years.

Chinese refiners were the top buyers of American crude oil in May, and have been regular importers since the United States revived domestic output and exports in recent years.

Earlier, OPEC and a group of non-OPEC countries agreed that they would return to 100 percent compliance with previously agreed oil output cuts, after months of underproduction by OPEC countries.

Looming over the oil markets is the trade dispute between the USA and China, the world's two biggest economies.

Benchmark Brent LCOc1 was up 60 cents at $77.71 a barrel by 1020 GMT.

Crude oil inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for US crude futures, have fallen to their lowest in 3-1/2 years, data showed last week.

How close is China to imposing the tariff on US crude oil?

US crude inventories rose by 1.2 million barrels in the week ending June 29, the Energy Information Administration said on Thursday, much higher than analysts' expectations for a decrease of 3.5 million barrels.

USA oil output is increasing but is unlikely to be able to fill the supply gap if US sanctions are successful in blocking Iranian exports.

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"Things will get worse before they get better on trade... between the US and China", said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.

In an early sign of future times, an executive from China's Dongming Petrochemical Group, an independent refiner from Shandong province, said his refinery had already cancelled USA crude orders.

"The Korean government is negotiating with the United States to get exemptions from the restrictions on Iranian oil purchases", it said.

"If China imposes tariffs, their refineries won't buy US crude since it would cost more", Sandy Fielden, director of research for commodities and energy at Morningstar Inc., said by telephone.

Meanwhile, Brent oil price was under pressure on Friday amid an escalating global trade tensions.

Energy consultancy FGE this week issued a stark warning of looming supply shortages due to USA sanctions against Iran, and because of disruptions elsewhere.

But by 0528 GMT, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last settlement at $$73.07 per barrel.

Venezuela is expected to lose another 400,000 bpd by year-end with production going to below 1 million bpd.

Although Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation have said they would raise output to make up for disruptions, FGE said "there simply is not enough capacity to make up for Iran's crude losses, plus Venezuela and Libya", and warned of the possibility of oil prices rising to $100 per barrel.

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