Sunday, 20 May, 2018

Oil Prices Turn Lower On Surprise US Stockpile Gain; Production Up

Source Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement via Flickr Source Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement via Flickr
Kenneth Drake | 02 May, 2018, 01:40

The decision of whether to restore the sanctions on Iran that were lifted after an agreement over its disputed nuclear program will be made by US President Donald Trump on May 12.

The World Bank in its latest forecast said global prices of crude oil, gas, and coal will rise by 20 percent this year.

Helping to limit losses are a number of factors including a reported drop in Angola production, continued threats by Houthis to Saudi oil and shipping and infrastructure, but most of all the possibility of the reimposition of sanctions against Iran.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery was 87 cents down at $67.70 a barrel, after settling 47 cents higher on Monday.

"We'll see oil fluctuating as uncertainties will persist over whether Trump will withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement", Vincent Hwang, a commodities analyst at NH Investment & Securities, said by phone in Seoul. Total volume traded was about 17 per cent below the 100-day average.

Brent crude futures rose 6 cents to $74.80 a barrel, a 0.1 percent gain, by 1:11 p.m. EDT (1711 GMT).


OPEC and its partners agreed to cut oil output by 1.8 million barrels per day since January previous year, an effort which has recorded a 149 percent success, and has boosted prices to $74 per barrel as at Thursday. Prices are up 5.2% for the month.

Trading on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange is closed for a Chinese public holiday.

If the U.S. does reimpose sanctions, that would be bullish for oil prices, analysts say, coinciding with a rapid decline in OPEC production largely due to declines in Angola and Venezuela, which is in the midst of an economic and social crisis.

Money managers hold record positions in Brent crude futures and options, lured in by the hefty premium of the front-month June contract over subsequent months that makes it profitable to invest in crude over the longer term. Gains were likely limited by this week's higher than expected USA crude oil and gasoline inventories as well as rising US production.

United States drillers added five oil rigs in the week to April 27, bringing the total count to 825, the highest level since March 2015, General Electric's Baker Hughes energy services firm said. The price rose to $75.47 last week, the highest since November 2014.

But while US producers are accelerating shale drilling in areas in the United States, higher production has not necessarily translated into stronger refining results for some oil companies. Crude stockpiles at the biggest USA storage complex rose by an estimated 1 million barrels last week, according to a forecast compiled by Bloomberg.

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