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Oil in Tight Range as Asia’s COVID-19 Restrictions Weigh on Sentiment

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Oil - Investors King

Oil prices were mixed in a tight range on Monday after the recovery of a major U.S. pipeline network eased concerns over supply, though fresh restrictions in Asia amid surging COVID-19 cases weighed on sentiment.

Gasoline shortages that have plagued the U.S. East Coast slowly eased on Sunday, with 1,000 more stations receiving supplies as Colonial Pipeline’s 5,500-mile (8,900-km) system recovered from a crippling cyberattack.

Brent crude oil futures were up 3 cents at $68.74 a barrel as of 0511 GMT, and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 8 cents, or 0.1%, at $65.45.

The two contracts jumped nearly 2.5% on Friday and managed to book a small gain last week, marking a third consecutive weekly increase.

“The market has no clear direction today though a new wave of restrictions to curb the pandemic in Asia is chilling the market mood,” said Satoru Yoshida, a commodity analyst with Rakuten Securities.

Investors remained cautious on worries that the highly transmissible coronavirus variant first detected in India is spreading to other countries.

Some Indian states said on Sunday they would extend COVID-19 lockdowns to help contain the pandemic, which has killed more than 270,000 people in the country. There are fears that the nation’s annual budget may fall flat as it did not account for a crippling second wave of COVID-19 infections.

Singapore warned on Sunday that new coronavirus variants were affecting more children, as the city-state prepares to shut most schools from this week, while Japan has declared a state of emergency in three more prefectures hit hard by the pandemic.

Disappointing retail data from China also added to pressure, Rakuten’s Yoshida said. Chinese retail sales rose 17.7% in April on a year ago, short of forecasts for a jump of 24.8%.

China’s crude oil throughput rose 7.5% in April from the same month a year ago, but remained off the peak seen in the last quarter of 2020.

“With growing concerns over the spreading pandemic in Asia, Brent prices are expected to stay in a trading range this week, with support expected at around $63 a barrel,” said Kazuhiko Saito, chief analyst at commodities broker Fujitomi Co.

Meanwhile, U.S. energy firms added oil and natural gas rigs for a third week in a row as higher crude prices prompt some drillers to return to the wellpad, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said on Friday.

In the Middle East, Israel and Gaza’s ruling Hamas militant group faced mounting international calls for a ceasefire in hostilities that entered their second week on Monday with no end in sight.

“As long as the fight does not spill over to oil-producing countries in the region, there will be limited impact on the oil market,” Fujitomi’s Saito said.

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.

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Crude Oil

New COVID Variant: Brent Crude Sheds Over $10 to $72 Per Barrel

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Crude oil - Investors King

Brent crude oil extended decline by over $10 on Friday on concerns that a new COVID variant called B.1.1.529 could force economies to impose restrictions and slow down global demand.

Brent crude, against which Nigerian crude oil is measured, dropped from $82.55 per barrel it attained on Thursday to as low as $72.09 on Friday at 7:20 pm Nigerian time before it rebounded slightly to $72.98 per barrel as shown below.

Global financial markets plunged across the board following reports that two cases of the new heavily mutated COVID variant from South Africa have been reported in Hong Kong and that the United Kingdom, one of the most affected nations during COVID-19 with over 140,000 deaths has halted flights from six South African nations to prevent a potential breakout of the new COVID variant.

Experts are concerned that the new variant outbreak would slow down global growth and increase global risks going into the new year.

According to Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA, “Even without severe restrictions, people will adopt more caution which will weigh on demand, as OPEC+ has repeatedly stated and factored into their models.”

However, heavy crude oil-consuming nations like the United States, China and others that have been calling for more supply will now enjoy substantial price reduction if this continues, therefore, Joe Biden may not need to release millions of barrels into the global market.

“Crude is back at levels last seen at the start of October and if this risk aversion continues in the weeks ahead, there’s plenty of room to fall. While OPEC+ would likely have avoided altering production plans next week or in the months following in response to the SPR releases, it may soon feel its hand is being forced. Next week may come too soon but another major outbreak could see them slam on the brakes,” Craig Erlam added.

 

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Crude Oil

Concerns Over New COVID Variant Plunges Brent Crude Oil Below $80 a Barrel

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Oil

Concerns over rising new COVID variant in South Africa, Asia and other regions weighed on Brent crude oil and other financial assets on Friday.

The heavily mutated COVID variant called B.1.1.529 plunged Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian crude oil is priced, by almost 4 percent on Friday to trade below $80 a barrel for the first in months.

Brent crude dropped $3.16 or 3.8 percent to $79.06 per barrel while the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) sheds $3.45 or 4.4 percent to $74.94 a barrel.

“Oil prices have gapped lower in Asia as the South African variant sparks’ growth fears, sending a wave of selling through Asian energy markets. Although gas and coal prices are holding steady, oil prices have tumbled,” stated Jeffrey Halley, Senior Market Analyst, Asia Pacific, OANDA.

Commodity prices dropped after the United Kingdom announced it has halted all flights from six South African nations. In Hong Kong, two cases of the new variant were detected on Friday.

“With US markets closed for holidays, investors are voting with their feet this morning. The one bull in the China shop that could truly derail the global recovery has always been a new strain of Covid-19 that swept the world and caused the reimposition of mass social retractions.”

This was coming two days after U.S President Joe Biden announced his administration plans to release millions of barrels of oil from strategic reserves to cool rising crude oil prices and rein in fuel price in the world’s largest economy.

Global financial markets experts are worried that the new variant will slow down global growth and force economies to start shutting down following the U.K announcement on Thursday.

Today, investors across the world will be paying attention to the outcome of meeting between WHO and South African officials, and the evolution of the B.1.1.529 variant. This will dictate market reaction for next week.

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Crude Oil

Nembe Oil Spill: FG Halts Aiteo From Operating Oilfield in Bayelsa

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Nigeria's aiteo

Following the damages done by AITEO leaking oil pipe to the people of Nembe community in Bayelsa state, the Federal Government has halted all operations in the affected area until a proper investigation had been conducted.

The Ministry of Environment disclosed this in a statement signed by Mr. Saghir el Mohammed, Press Director, Ministry of Environment, on Tuesday in Abuja.

Mohammed stated that the federal government had taken a proactive measure to assess the damages done by Aiteo oil spillage to the people of Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State and ensure safety of lives and properties.

The statement reads, “The Federal Government has directed the exploration company, AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited (AEEPCo), to halt operations in the area until a proper investigation is carried out.

“Also, adequate measures will as well put in place to ensure the safety of lives and property in the area.
“It can be recalled that the spill occurred on Nov. 5, 2021, in a form of a fountain within the proximity of Opu Nembe Community at Well 1, Well Head located at the Southern Field of Sant Barbara.

“Upon receipt of the report of the incident, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), was set up.

“Also, the state Ministry of Environment, Community representatives and Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company was set up on Nov. 6, 2021 to immediately address the situation.

“The exercise was inclusive because of inaccessibility to the wellhead location due to the hydrocarbon fumes that saturated the atmosphere in the area.

“Consequently, the JIT directed AEEPCo to shut down in the impacted asset (well head) for appropriate oil spilI response.

Accordingly, AEEPCo deployed booms and skimmers to contain the spill crude oil from spreading.

“As at Nov. 10, 2021, efforts to shut the well has proven difficult due to inaccessibility.

“Meanwhile, in an effort to safeguard the environment and livelihood, staff from the NOSDRA’s Yenagoa Field Office were deployed to the site to monitor and give a progress reports on the measures being taken to address the issue.

“There is further directives to AEEPCo to engage all relevant stakeholders in the spilled oil recovery process.

“In this vein, 3,000 barrels of emulsified crude oil have been recovered and held in a recovery barge.

“Also, additional booms were deployed by the Clean Nigeria Association (CNA) System to work with the on-site recovery contractor.

“Further effort yielded result as containment and recovery within the leak area have been reinforced by Nov. 15,” he said.

Mohammed said that the CNA has mobilised to site for enhanced containment and recovery.

He added that boot and coots, mobilised for well control and securing and AEEPCo has secured temporary work permit for expatriates expected in the country for the activity.

According to him, based on JIT reports, a well control company (Kenyon International) was at the incident location for an on-site assessment.

“Meanwhile, containment and recovery are still on-going. It is instructive to note that the wellhead experts have arrived Nigeria and will commence work on killing the well.

“However, in order to ensure safety and guarantee future operations in the area by AEEPCo, NOSDRA has mandated the company to carry out concrete actions.

“The action is to address the situation that includes clean-up of impacted areas, remediation of spill site as well as damage assessment and post-spill impact assessment.

“NOSDRA, through the Federal Ministry of Environment, will keep the public informed on future developments on the spill incident with an effort to contain further spread and limit the effect on the environment.

 

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