Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Huge Iranian oil armada heads to China before U.S. sanctions kick in

Crude Oil Crude Oil
Lloyd Bates | 22 October, 2018, 13:23

Oil inched up amid ongoing tensions over the death of a prominent Saudi journalist, with prices steadying after a big drop overnight due to a jump in us crude stockpiles, Reuters reports.

Global benchmark Brent crude has fallen nearly US$8 per barrel since reaching a four-year high of US$86.74 on Oct 3, weakened by lower forecasts for global economic growth as the United States and China impose tariffs on billions of dollars of each others' goods.

Iran, facing USA sanctions on its oil exports from November 4, cut production by 376,000 bpd in September versus May, and has said OPEC and Saudi Arabia are not able to make up for a total loss of its exports.

Futures in NY were little changed, after plunging 3 percent Wednesday, the biggest drop since August. "I think we've endured a correction in the market and concerns surrounding lost Iranian barrels will re-emerge and the market will stabilise". Meanwhile, President Donald Trump and his top diplomat cautioned against putting the entire U.S. -Saudi relationship at risk over dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Crude futures came off one-month lows in early trading as US stock markets bounced.

Brent for December settlement was at $79.89 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

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A looming "seasonal scale back in refinery demand...could result in oil stock builds", a portion of the report reads, which was circulated among OPEC officials on Thursday. "Already at $80, we are seeing emerging-market local oil prices pretty close to where we peaked a few years ago ... the race to protect consumers from further price rises from here could potentially impact demand growth sooner than would otherwise have been expected".

For example, if the United States were to halt or reduce production, the implications would be big because the price increase could be high. Oil prices were left unmoved by data from oil-field services firm Baker Hughes that showed the number of us drilling rigs rose by four this week.

An unnamed source from the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) told Reuters on Friday that the firm had been shipping over 20 million barrels of oil to China's northeastern port of Dalian.

Meanwhile, revisions to global economic forecasts by the International Monetary Fund, fueled by trade disputes between the U.S. and its partners, "cast more uncertainty over oil demand growth in 2019", the document said. The latest news in this due came on Tuesday, when National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC)'s Managing Director Ali Kardor announced that offering crude oil at Iran Energy Exchange (IRENEX) will be commenced on October 28 to thwart US sanctions.

And then there's Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter.

As the US sanctions on Iran's oil sales targets the Iranian state-run sector, Iranian government chose to offer oil in the stock market to permit the private sector to export the product to foil USA sanctions.

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