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

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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.

 

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Fear of Global Recession Weighs on Crude Oil Prices

Global uncertainty concerning recession continued to dictate the price of crude oil and other global commodities

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Global uncertainty concerning recession continued to dictate the price of commodities, especially crude oil which has now declined for a second trading session on Monday.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, slipped by $1, or 1.2%, to $85.15 a barrel at 11:36 a.m Nigerian time on Tuesday. Brent crude dipped as low as $84.51, the lowest since Jan. 14.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude shed 87 cents, or 1.1%, to $77.87 a barrel. WTI dropped as low as $77.21, the lowest since Jan. 6.

Brent and WTI slumped by about 5% on Friday.

The dollar index that measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies climbed to a 20-year high on Monday.

A stronger dollar tends to curtail demand for dollar-denominated oil.

Meanwhile, interest rate increases imposed by central banks in numerous oil-consuming countries to fight surging inflation has raised fears of an economic slowdown and accompanying slump in oil demand.

“A backdrop of global monetary policy tightening by the key central banks to quell elevated inflation, and a splendid run-up in the greenback towards more than two-decade highs, has raised concerns about an economic slowdown and is acting as a key headwind for crude prices,” said Sugandha Sachdeva at Religare Broking.

Disruptions in the oil market from the Russia-Ukraine war, with European Union sanctions banning Russian crude set to start in December, has lent some support to prices.

Attention is turning to what the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies led by Russia, together known as OPEC+, will do when they meet on Oct. 5, having agreed at their previous meeting to cut output modestly.

However, OPEC+ is producing well below its targeted output, meaning that a further cut may not have much impact on supply.

Data last week showed OPEC+ missed its target by 3.58 million barrels per day in August, a bigger shortfall than in July.

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Crude Oil

Crude Oil Pulls Back to $91 a Barrel on Monday

Despite the strong U.S. dollar and slowing demand for crude oil, the price of the commodity pulled back on Monday during the New York trading session.

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Despite the strong U.S. dollar and slowing demand for crude oil, the price of the commodity pulled back on Monday during the New York trading session.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, pulled back from $88 a barrel to $91.52 at 5:31 pm Nigerian time. While the U.S. West Texas Intermediate oil pared losses to $84.75 a barrel, up from $81.65 it traded in the early hours of the day.

The price of the commodity traded lower in the early hours of the day on concerns that central banks will raise interest rates to curb inflationary pressures, a move expected to further hurt demand for crude oil and support the U.S. Dollar’s attractiveness to foreign investors.

“Ideas that continued rate increases will slow world crude demand and keep upward pressure on the U.S. Dollar is triggering long liquidation in both crude and natural gas this morning,” said Dennis Kissler, senior vice president of trading at BOK Financial.

While the pullback may not last given a series of factors impacting the outlook of the commodity, supply remained tight and will continue to dictate prices for the remaining part of the year, especially with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia, known as OPEC+ still struggling to up production.

The cartel fell short in August, missing its target by 3.583 million barrels per day (mbpd) following a 2.892 mbpd missed in July.

“The market still has the start of European sanctions on Russian oil hanging over it. As supply is disrupted in early December, the market is unlikely to see any quick response from U.S. producers,” ANZ analysts said.

However, the gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions in China, the largest importer of the commodity, may help bolster prices.

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Nigeria Risks Losing N1.37 Trillion as PENGASSAN Threatens to Embark on Strike

Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) threatens to embark on a nationwide strike amid rising crude oil theft.

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The federal government could lose as much as N1.37 trillion worth of crude oil production as the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) threatens to embark on a nationwide strike amid rising crude oil theft.

PENGASSAN said the industrial action would last for 30 days, except the government addressed the nation’s incessant crude oil theft.

The association zonal chairman, Prince Audu Osihiokhamele, who was present at a sensitization rally held in Warri, Delta State disclosed on Friday.

According to him “the big men doing the business of crude oil theft are in government.

“They say they load vessels, but we don’t see any. Is it a needle?”

Audu further stated that should the authorities fail to take the necessary actions to arrest the crisis, PENGASSAN would be forced to take drastic action.

He said “We will shut down the country for 30 days until we all come to the round table to unravel the mysteries surrounding the thefts.

“PENGASSAN will resort to shutting down production for 30 days by withdrawing members, both onshore and offshore, wherever they are producing crude, should the government fail to hearken to this warning.”

In July 2022, Nigeria’s crude oil production dropped to an all-time low of 972,394 barrels per day, according to a report released by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and obtained by Investors King.

Prior to theft and a series of attacks in the Southern part of the country, Nigeria’s crude oil production stood at about 2.1 million barrels per day. However, despite oil trading at a relatively high price in recent months following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, production in Africa’s largest economy has nosedived and continues to trend downward.

This, experts have attributed to an unusually high level of oil theft in key crude oil producing states. Some stakeholders have gone as far as accusing politicians and other government officials of being part-takers or even encouraging it.

Recently, in an effort to curb theft and prop up Nigerian crude oil production, the Federal Government was forced to engage the service of a rebel leader, popularly known as Tompolo.

Tompolo, who was once declared wanted and a criminal, was awarded N48 billion, or $112.123 million in yearly survelliance contract to provide security for government oil assets and investments in the Southern part of the nation.

While this agreement might work in the near term, it could spell doom for the nation in the future like the Boko haram in the North and IPOB in the East.

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