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Three Months After Force Majeure, ExxonMobil Resumes Export

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Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, a unit of ExxonMobil, will resume shipment of Qua Iboe crude, Nigeria’s largest grade of crude oil in October, three months after the company had declared force majeure on the exports of the grade.

This is coming as oil prices slumped three per cent Tuesday following another gloomy prediction by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on demand growth that suggested that oversupply in the oil market might persist for longer than anticipated.

ExxonMobil had declared the force majeure after it observed a leak caused by what it described as a “system anomaly” during a routine check of its loading facility on July 14, this year.

The cause of the leak was not clear, but the force majeure came just days after a militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), claimed to have bombed the company’s 48-inch Qua Iboe crude oil export pipeline on July 11.
But 24 hours after the claim by the militants, the company’s spokesperson, Todd Spitler, debunked the claim, saying “there was no attack on our facilities.”

However, citing industry sources, Reuters reported that the company is offering an October-loading cargo of Qua Iboe crude oil, the first offer since the company declared the force majeure.

It was not clear if the pipeline had been repaired, or if the company expected it to be back on stream in time to load crude in October.

But the cargo is offered for October 8-16 loading at a premium of $1.80 per barrel to dated Brent.

A spokesman for Exxon said the force majeure remained in effect but did not give a timeframe on the resumption of operations.

While ExxonMobil said at the time it declared force majeure that the export terminal was operating, traders said the company did not release a revised loading schedule for the crude exports.

The last ship to load crude at the Qua Iboe terminal was the Ottoman Nobility on July 9.

One of the three other ships scheduled to load the crude had been near the terminal since July 12.

A vessel loads one million barrel of the grade every three to four days, and exports of 250,000 barrels per day aboard eight vessels were scheduled for July.

Before it declared a ceasefire recently, the Avengers had warned that if the company moved forward with repairs “something big…will happen,” and threatened to attack the company’s workers, instead of blowing up its facilities.

Shell-operated Forcados crude oil exports were halted since the Avengers attacked its subsea pipeline in February.

In a related development, oil prices fell tuesday on concerns over increased drilling in the United States and as investors took profits after oil prices rose close to one per cent in the previous session.

While the Brent crude was down $1, or 2 per cent, at $47.32 a barrel, the US West Texas Intermediate crude fell $1.25, or 2.7 per cent, to $45.04.

The IEA, energy adviser to over 26 industrialised countries, said a sharp slowdown in global oil demand growth, coupled with ballooning inventories and rising supply, means the crude market would be oversupplied at least through the first six months of 2017.

IEA’s gloomy forecast came a day after OPEC also predicted oversupply in the oil market in 2017.

IEA’s prediction contrasts with the agency’s last forecast a month ago for supply and demand to be broadly in balance over the rest of this year and for inventories to fall swiftly.

The IEA’s latest comments follow a surprisingly OPEC’s bearish outlook published in the cartel’s monthly Oil Market Report (OMR) on Monday.

Oil traders were quoted as saying that the price falls were an indication that increasing oil drilling activity in the United States was still a concern.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Crude Oil

Oil Posts 2% Gain for the Week Despite India Virus Surge

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Oil prices steadied on Friday and were set for a weekly gain against the backdrop of optimism over a global economic recovery, though the COVID-19 crisis in India capped prices.

Brent crude futures settled 0.28% higher at $68.28 per barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude advanced 0.29% to $64.90 per barrel.

Both Brent and WTI are on track for second consecutive weekly gains as easing restrictions on movement in the United States and Europe, recovering factory operations and coronavirus vaccinations pave the way for a revival in fuel demand.

In China, data showed export growth accelerated unexpectedly in April while a private survey pointed to strong expansion in service sector activity.

However, crude imports by the world’s biggest buyer fell 0.2% in April from a year earlier to 40.36 million tonnes, or 9.82 million barrels per day (bpd), the lowest since December.

In the United States, the world’s largest oil consumer, jobless claims have dropped, signalling the labour market recovery has entered a new phase as the economy recovers.

The recovery in oil demand, however, has been uneven as surging COVID-19 cases in India reduce fuel consumption in the world’s third-largest oil importer and consumer.

“Brent came within a whisker of breaking past $70 a barrel this week but failed at the final hurdle as demand uncertainty dragged on prices,” said Stephen Brennock at oil brokerage PVM.

The resurgence of COVID-19 in countries such as India, Japan and Thailand is hindering gasoline demand recovery, energy consultancy FGE said in a client note, though some of the lost demand has been offset by countries such as China, where recent Labour Day holiday travel surpassed 2019 levels.

“Gasoline demand in the U.S. and parts of Europe is faring relatively well,” FGE said.

“Further out, we could see demand pick up as lockdowns are eased and pent-up demand is released during the summer driving season.”

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Commodities

Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange to Commence Gold Trading

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With the admission of Dukia Gold’s diversified financial instruments backed by gold as the underlying asset, Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange is set to commence gold trading.

According to Dukia Gold, the instruments will be in form of exchange-traded notes, commercial papers and other gold-backed securities, adding that it will enable the company to deepen the commodities market in Nigeria, increase capacity, generate foreign exchange for the Nigerian government to better diversify foreign reserves and create jobs across the metal production value chain.

Tunde Fagbemi, the Chairman, Dukia Gold, disclosed this while addressing journalists at Pre-Listing Media Interactive Session in Lagos on Thursday.

He said, “We are proud to be the first gold company whose products would be listed on the Lagos Futures and Commodities Exchange. The listing shall enable us facilitate our infrastructure development, expand capacity and create fungible products.

“This has potential to shore up Nigeria’s foreign reserve and create an alternative window for preservation of pension funds. A gold-backed security is a hedge against inflation and convenient preservation of capital.”

“As a global player, we comply with the practices and procedures of London Bullion Market Association and many other international bodies. Our refinery will also have multiplier effects on the development of rural areas anywhere it is located,” he added.

Mr Olusegun Akanji, the Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, Heritage Bank, said the lender had created a buying centre for verification of quality and quantity of gold and reference price to ensure price discovery in line with the global standard.

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Crude Oil

Oil Nears $70 as Easing Western Lockdowns Boost Summer Demand Outlook

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Oil prices rose for a third day on Wednesday as easing of lockdowns in the United States and parts of Europe heralded a boost in fuel demand in summer season and offset concerns about the rise of COVID-19 infections in India and Japan.

Brent crude rose 93 cents, or 1.4%, to $69.81 a barrel at 1008 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 85 cents, or 1.3%, to $66.54 a barrel.

Both contracts hit the highest level since mid-March in intra-day trade.

“A return to $70 oil is edging closer to becoming reality,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.

“The jump in oil prices came amid expectations of strong demand as western economies reopen. Indeed, anticipation of a pick-up in fuel and energy usage in the United States and Europe over the summer months is running high,” he said.

Crude prices were also supported by a large fall in U.S. inventories.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) industry group reported crude stockpiles fell by 7.7 million barrels in the week ended April 30, according to two market sources. That was more than triple the drawdown expected by analysts polled by Reuters. Gasoline stockpiles fell by 5.3 million barrels.

Traders are awaiting data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Wednesday to see if official data shows such a large fall.

“If confirmed by the EIA, that would mark the largest weekly fall in the official data since late January,” Commonwealth Bank analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note.

The rise in oil prices to nearly two-month highs has been supported by COVID-19 vaccine rollouts in the United States and Europe.

Euro zone business activity accelerated last month as the bloc’s dominant services industry shrugged off renewed lockdowns and returned to growth.

“The partial lifting of mobility restrictions, the expectation that tourism will return in the near future, and the lure of the psychologically important $70 mark are all likely to have contributed to the price rise,” Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said.

This has offset a drop in fuel demand in India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer, which is battling a surge in COVID-19 infections.

“However, if we were to eventually see a national lockdown imposed, this would likely hit sentiment,” ING Economics analysts said of the situation in India.

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