Oil prices rose on Friday on hopes of a fuel demand recovery in the United States and Europe as economic growth picks up and lockdowns ease, but worries about India’s raging second wave of COVID-19 cases kept a lid on gains.
Brent crude futures rose 17 cents, or 0.3%, to $65.57 a barrel, after climbing 8 cents on Thursday.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures jumped 31 cents, or 0.5%, to $61.73 a barrel, also after an 8 cent gain on Thursday.
“The market shrugged off last week’s (U.S. oil) inventory build, instead comforted by the continued improvement in gasoline demand,” ANZ analysts said in a note.
U.S. refiner Valero said gasoline and diesel demand were back to 93% and 100% of the levels they were at before the pandemic, with chief commercial officer Gary Simmons saying the company is “pretty bullish on gasoline going forward”.
Improving conditions in Europe also buoyed sentiment. France said schools would reopen on Monday and domestic travel curbs in place since early April restricting people to within 10 km (6 miles) of their homes would end on May 3.
“With the COVID headline shockers from India and Japan fading to the back burner and so far no related risk of mutations spilling back into the U.S. and Europe, (the) buy-in dip has remained the order of the day,” said Axi’s chief market strategist Stephen Innes.
Nevertheless, both benchmark crude contracts are headed for a weekly loss of nearly 2% on concerns about sliding fuel demand in India, the world’s third largest oil importer, where daily infections and deaths from COVID-19 hit new records this week.
Several countries, including Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates, have barred or cut flights from India.
Oil Slips With Energy Prices in Europe Halts Record Rally
Oil dipped toward $72 a barrel in New York after prices of energy commodities in Europe halted a record-breaking run.
West Texas Intermediate futures fell 0.6%, having reached the highest intraday level since early August on Wednesday. A rally in European gas and power prices to unprecedented levels was set to end as industries were starting to curb consumption. The surge in energy rates could temporarily boost diesel demand by as much as 2 million barrels a day as consumers switch fuels, according to Citigroup Inc.
Still, the bullish signals for oil are continuing to increase. U.S. crude inventories dropped by more than 6 million barrels last week to a two-year low, according to government figures, as coronavirus vaccination programs permit economies to reopen. Chevron Corp. Chief Executive Officer Mike Wirth warned that the world is facing high energy prices for the foreseeable future.
The investor optimism is showing up in key oil time spreads widening. Trading of bullish Brent options also surged to a two-month high on Wednesday.
Prices have been pushed higher in recent days “by supply outages combined with expectations of switching from gas to oil in the power sector,” said Helge Andre Martinsen, a senior oil market analyst at DNB Bank ASA. “We still believe in softer prices toward year-end and early next year as curtailed production returns and OPEC+ continues to increase production.”
Strong prices for gas, liquefied natural gas and oil are expected to last “for a while” as producers resist the urge to drill again, Chevron’s Wirth told Bloomberg News. Norway’s Equinor ASA said Thursday it also expects European gas prices to remain high over winter.
Nigeria Sets Up N20B Oil Sector Research Fund
The minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, has launched a US$50 million Nigerian Content Research and Development (R&D) fund, this is seen as a breath of fresh air in a country where funding for research has been lacking.
The launching of the fund by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) was also an occasion for the commissioning of the Board’s Technology Incubation and Innovation Center located within the Board’s Tower in Yenogoa, Bayelsa.
The minister said through a representative said the fund would be used to create research centers of excellence, finance research commercialisation, funding support for basic and applied research and endowment of professorial chairs in universities and research institutions in the country.
Nigeria spends only about 0.2 percent of its Gross Domestic Product on research and development annually as against developed and some developing countries that spend between 2.5 to 4 percent and between 0.7 and to 1.2 percent of their annual GDP respectively on research and development.
Sylva said that the continued underfunding of research and development in Nigeria has continued to reflect on the country’s overdependence on foreign goods and services.
”This is unsustainable if we are serious about building a national technological capability that will drive economic growth,” he said.
The minister, therefore, urged oil and gas operating and service companies and other members of the private sector to embrace investment in R&D as a key component of their business model in order to complement the NCDMB effort.
While commissioning the Technology Incubation and Innovation Center, Sylva said that the center will provide a formidable platform for the generation, incubation and acceleration of innovative ideas to the world marketplace.
He said innovations start from the creation of ecosystems where ideas can connect and challenged various industry stakeholders and youths to utilize the Center to solidify adaptation of existing solutions and also create new solutions that address major industry challenges in the country.
Sylva reconstituted the Nigerian Content Research and Development Council, NCRDC. The council consists of delegates from three key groups including the Government, Industry and Academia.
The council offers policies that shape the direction of NCDMB’s research interventions with a membership that includes representatives of the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria, PETAN, Oil Producers Trade Section, OPTS and the Petroleum Contractors Trade Section, PCTS.
Other statutory members include the National Universities Commission, NUC, the National Board for Technology Incubation, NBTI and the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, NOTAP.
Speaking earlier during his presentation, Simbi Kesiye Wabote, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, noted that research and development are integral to the growth and development of any nation as it plays an important role in opening new chapters of modern life.
Wabote however regretted that African nations accounted for less than 1 percent of what is spent on R&D globally, adding that the continent’s aggregate GDP is only 3 percent of the global GDP.
“There is a nexus between what is spent on research and development and economic prosperity. It is time to start nurturing the growth of our home-grown technology rather than just being a wholesome consumer of other people’s innovation,” he said.
According to Wabote, another reason NCDMB is channeling its efforts on research and development is that it is one of the six parameters which are essential for sustainable local content practice.
Other five parameters for sustainable local content development according to him include an enabling regulatory framework, periodic gap analysis, structured capacity building and fiscal and monetary incentives to attract new investments and keep existing businesses afloat as well as create access to the market to enhance patronage of goods and services generated from established capacities.
He further explained that another reason the Board is promoting research and development in the oil and gas industry is that it is in line with the provisions of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development, NOGICD, Act of 2010.
“The authors of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act of 2010 recognized the importance of Research and Development and included key provisions in the Act. Specifically, Sections 36, 37, 38, and 39, of the NOGICD Act are dedicated to promoting Research and Development,” Wabote said.
He also noted that research and development is a major feature of the Board’s 10-Year Strategic roadmap that seeks to increase the level of Nigerian content in the oil and gas industry to 70 percent by the year 2027.
He said, “The 10-Year Roadmap consists of five pillars and four enablers. The pillar on Technical Capability Development contains initiatives to further drive the delivery of Research and Development in the oil and gas industry.
The enabler on research and statistics cover the initiatives required to conduct research in key areas to generate new evidence to address industry knowledge gaps and operational challenges.”
Wabote said the Board would soon embark on a roadshow to showcase its research and development initiatives to the various stakeholder groups in the country, including universities that represent a key constituency; saying that the Board was set to move fully into the implementation phase of its initiatives to derive better results from the intellect of Nigerians in the academia, research institutions, and technology hubs.
Oil Rises on Supply Concerns as Hurricane Ida Disrupts Global Oil Market
Crude oil gained on Monday amid concerns output from the United States, the world’s largest oil producer may remain below usual level given damages done by Hurricane Ida three weeks ago.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian crude oil is priced, gained 62 cents or 0.9 percent to $73.54 a barrel at 11:56 am Nigerian time while the U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil appreciated by 64 cents or 0.9 percent to $70.36 per barrel.
Brent crude oil has remained in range, trading between $70 and $74 per barrel in the last three weeks, a position expected by most oil experts to be maintained in the near-term.
“Oil prices may not have much room to rise in the near term, but at the same time are not expected to crash soon,” said Stephen Brennock of broker PVM.
Last week, in a report released by th U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the administration said it expects Brent crude oil to remain around current levels for the rest of 2021, averaging $71 a barrel in the fourth quarter of the year.
“Markets still need clarity on the virus impacts beyond the very near term and until we get that, it seems like most assets, including oil, may continue to drift sideways,” Howie Lee, an economist at Singapore’s OCBC bank.
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