- Saudi Arabia Raises Oil Pricing to Asia and U.S. as OPEC Cuts Output
Saudi Arabia raised pricing for February oil sales to Asia and increased premiums for light grades to the U.S. as the world’s largest crude exporter prepares to reduce output to help counter a global oversupply.
State-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Saudi Aramco, increased its official pricing for Arab Light crude to Asia by 60 cents a barrel to 15 cents below the regional benchmark, it said in an e-mailed statement. The company had been expected to increase the pricing for shipments of Arab Light crude by 50 cents a barrel, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of five refiners and traders.
Oil jumped 52 percent last year, its first annual gain in four years as OPEC agreed to reduce production for the first time in eight years. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and 11 other producers, including Russia, agreed to decrease output by 1.8 million barrels a day this year after prices had dropped more than half from the 2014 level.
Crude is set to recover as OPEC fulfills its agreement, Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, said last month in Riyadh. The intervention is intended to “nudge along” a re-balancing of the oil market, as prices will need to rise to encourage investment in new supplies, Al-Falih said in an interview. Crude will balance between $50 and $100 a barrel, he said.
Buyers in the U.S. will pay premiums that are 20 cents a barrel higher for both Extra Light and Light grade crudes in February, while pricing for Medium and Heavy blends remains unchanged, according to the statement. Saudi Aramco reduced pricing for all grades sold in Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean region next month.
Saudi Arabia boosted output to a record 10.66 million barrels a day in July. Two months later it backed a reversal in OPEC’s Saudi-led policy of letting members pump without limits. Saudi Aramco is curbing sales this month to parts of Southeast Asia, as part of its OPEC obligation to cut production by 486,000 barrels a day to just under 10.1 million.
Middle Eastern producers compete with cargoes from Latin America, North Africa and Russia for buyers in Asia, its largest market. Producers in the Persian Gulf region sell mostly under long-term contracts to refiners. Most of the Gulf’s state oil companies price their crude at a premium or discount to a benchmark. For Asia the benchmark is the average of Oman and Dubai oil grades.
Gold Gained Ahead of Joe Biden Inauguration 2021
Gold price rose from one and a half month low on Tuesday ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
The precious metal, largely regarded as a haven asset by investors, edged up by 0.2 percent to $1,844.52 per ounce on Tuesday, up from $1,802.61 on Monday.
He said, “The key factor appears to be the (U.S.) currency.”
As expected, a change in administration comes with the change in economic policies, especially taking into consideration the peculiarities of the present situation. In fact, even though Biden, Janet Yellen and the rest of the new cabinet are expected to go all out on additional stimulus with the support of Democrats controlled Houses, economic uncertainties with rising COVID-19 cases and slow vaccine distribution remained a huge concern.
Also, the effectiveness of the vaccines can not be ascertained until wider rollout.
Still, which policy would be halted or sustained by the incoming administration remained a concern that has forced many investors to once again flee other assets for Gold ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration.
Crude Oil Holds Steady Above $55 Per Barrel on Tuesday
Brent Crude oil, against which Nigerian crude oil is priced, rose from $54.46 per barrel on Monday to $55.27 per barrel as of 9:03 am Nigerian time on Tuesday.
Last week, Brent crude oil rose to 11 months high of $57.38 per barrel before pulling back on rising COVID-19 cases and lockdowns in key global economies like the United Kingdom, Euro-Area, China, etc.
While OPEC has left 2021 oil demand unchanged and President-elect Joe Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, experts are saying the rising number of new cases of COVID-19 amid poor vaccine distribution could drag on growth and demand for oil in 2021.
On Friday, Dan Yergin, vice-chairman at IHS Markit, said in addition to the stimulus package “There are two other things that are going with it … one is of course, vaccinations — in the sense that eventually this crisis is going to end, and maybe by the spring, lockdowns will be over.”
“The other thing is what Saudi Arabia did. This is the third time Saudi Arabia has made a sudden change in policy in less than a year, and this one was to announce (the) 1 million barrel a day cut — partly because they are worried about the impact of the surge in virus that’s occurring,” he said.
Also, the stimulus being injected into the United States economy could spur huge Shale production and disrupt OPEC and allies’ efforts at balancing the global oil market in 2021.
Crude Oil Pulled Back Despite Joe Biden Stimulus
Crude oil pulled back on Friday despite the $1.9 trillion stimulus package announced by U.S President-elect, Joe Biden.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, pulled back from $57.38 per barrel on Wednesday to $55.52 per barrel on Friday in spite of the huge stimulus package announced on Thursday.
On Thursday, OPEC, in its latest outlook for the year, said uncertainties remain high in 2021 with the number of COVID-19 new cases on the rise.
OPEC said, “Uncertainties remain high going forward with the main downside risks being issues related to COVID-19 containment measures and the impact of the pandemic on consumer behavior.”
“These will also include how many countries are adapting lockdown measures, and for how long. At the same time, quicker vaccination plans and a recovery in consumer confidence provide some upside optimism.”
Governments across Europe have announced tighter and longer coronavirus lockdowns, with vaccinations not expected to have a significant impact for the next few months.
“The complex remains in pause mode, a development that should not be surprising given the magnitude of the oil price gains that have been developing for some 2-1/2 months,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said.
Still, OPEC left its crude oil projections unchanged for the year. The oil cartel expected global oil demand to increase by 5.9 million barrels per day year on year to an average of 95.9 million per day in 2020.
But also OPEC expects a recent rally and stimulus to boost U.S. Shale crude oil production in the year, a projection Investors King experts expect to hurt OPEC strategy in 2021.
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