Friday, 22 February, 2019

Oil Pushes Higher as Venezuelan Crisis Threatens Crude Flows

BC-Venezuela’s-in-Crisis The-Oil-Market-Doesn’t-Care BC-Venezuela’s-in-Crisis The-Oil-Market-Doesn’t-Care , Bloomberg
Lloyd Bates | 28 January, 2019, 05:54

Oil futures split paths on Thursday, with USA prices settling higher and the global benchmark logging a slight loss as traders reacted to a weekly surge in US crude stockpiles and the possibility of US sanctions on Venezuelan crude amid intensifying political tensions in the South American nation.

The U.S. imported less than 500,000 barrels a day of Venezuelan crude and petroleum products in 2017, down from more than 1.2 million barrels a day in 2008, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The International Energy Agency estimates Venezuelan reserves at 303.2 billion barrels, "but much of its oil is extra heavy, which is costly to extract", an IEA report said.

Oil prices rose by 1 percent on Friday as turmoil in Venezuela triggered concerns that its oil exports could soon be disrupted, Trend reports citing Reuters.

"We think there is more risk of a downside price move from demand-related issues and USA supply-related outperformance than the risk of bullishness related to sharp OPEC supply cuts", the bank said in a research note.

Global oil markets are facing an uncertain year with slowing global growth driving less global demand for oil while the supply picture looks unclear with production cuts by OPEC and Russian Federation potentially counteracted by the growth in USA shale oil output.

How would an oil embargo affect the US?

Venezuela holds the group's rotating presidency this year, which means the nation's oil minister and PDVSA president Manuel Quevedo is OPEC's sitting president for 2019.

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US crude stockpiles rose the most since November last week and gasoline inventories climbed to a record, government data show.

The U.S. government could lessen the blow by phasing in restrictions on Venezuelan oil imports in a way that mirrors the trend U.S. refineries have already always been adjusting to, said John Auers, executive vice president of the refining consultancy Turner, Mason & Company. Francisco Monaldi, fellow in Latin American energy policy at Rice University's Baker Institute, noted that in the event of oil sanctions, the United States would also have to import oil from Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that are tightening their supply. "Over time, we can see oil production increasing".

There's no shortage of oil in the world right now, with global supplies hitting a record last summer. To churn out gasoline, jet fuel and other products, refineries require a healthy dose of heavy crude.

With Iran already crippled by US sanctions, a drop in Venezuelan exports could squeeze global supply further.

The EIA reported Thursday that domestic supplies of natural gas fell by 163 billion cubic feet for the week ended January 18. Gulf Coast refiners can't operate on United States shale oil alone.

"The road back for Venezuela will be extremely arduous given the depths of the economic and humanitarian disaster", she said.

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