- Iran, US Knock Oil Prices Downwards
Oil prices fell on Monday as increased exports from Iran undermined efforts by other oil producers to curb a global fuel supply overhang and as U.S. drillers increased activity for a 10th straight week.
According to Reuters, Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were trading at $56.84 per barrel at 0535 GMT, down 26 cents from their last close.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were trading at $53.70 per barrel, down 29 cents.
Traders said the lower prices were a result of rising exports from Iran that come just as other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cut supplies in an effort to end a global glut.
Iran has sold more than 13 million barrels of oil held on tankers at sea, capitalizing on an OPEC output cut deal from which it is exempted to regain market share and court new buyers, according to industry sources and data.
The amount of Iranian oil held at sea has dropped to 16.4 million barrels, from 29.6 million barrels at the beginning of October, according to Thomson Reuters Oil Flows data.
Before that sharp drop, the level had barely changed in 2016; it was 29.7 million barrels at the start of last year, the data showed.
Iran’s surging tanker exports weren’t the only indicator of plentiful supplies.
U.S. energy companies last week added oil rigs for a tenth week in a row, extending a recovery in activity into an eighth month as crude prices remained at levels at which many drillers can operate profitably.
“The next leg up in prices probably won’t occur until the traders see evidence that production levels are falling. In the meantime, rising U.S. drilling activity and output is likely to keep prices in check,” ANZ bank said on Monday.
Drillers added four oil rigs in the week to Jan. 6, bringing the total count to 529, the most since December 2015, energy services firm Baker Hughes Inc said on Friday.
As a result of the increased drilling, U.S. oil output has risen by over 4 percent from its 2016 low to almost 8.8 million barrels per day, although production remains 8.74 percent below its 2015 peak.
In physical markets, Iraq raised its February official selling price (OSP) for Basra Light crude to Asia by $0.50 to minus $0.90 a barrel against the average of Oman/Dubai quotes from the previous month, the State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) said on Monday.
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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