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Oil Prices Dip on Sluggish Demand Signs and Fed’s Interest Rate Outlook

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Oil prices on Monday dipped as the U.S. Federal Reserve officials’ comments showed a cautious approach to interest rate adjustments.

The dip in prices reflects concerns over the outlook for global economic growth and its implications for energy consumption in the world’s largest economy.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, slipped by 7 cents or 0.1% to $82.72 per barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil stood at $78.21 per barrel, a 5 cents decline.

Auckland-based independent analyst Tina Teng highlighted that the oil market’s focus has shifted from geopolitical tensions in the Middle East to the broader world economic outlook.

Concerns arose as China’s producer price index (PPI) contracted in April, signaling continued sluggishness in business demand.

Similarly, recent U.S. economic data suggested a slowdown, further dampening market sentiment.

The discussions among Federal Reserve officials regarding the adequacy of current interest rates to stimulate inflation back to the desired 2% level added to market jitters.

While earlier in the week, concerns over supply disruptions stemming from the Israel-Gaza conflict had provided some support to oil prices, the attention has now turned to macroeconomic indicators.

Analysts anticipate that the U.S. central bank will maintain its policy rate at the current level for an extended period, bolstering the dollar.

A stronger dollar typically makes dollar-denominated oil more expensive for investors holding other currencies, thus contributing to downward pressure on oil prices.

Furthermore, signs of weak demand added to the bearish sentiment in the oil market. ANZ analysts noted that U.S. gasoline and distillate inventories increased in the week preceding the start of the U.S. driving season, indicating subdued demand for fuel.

Refiners globally are grappling with declining profits for diesel, driven by increased supplies and lackluster economic activity.

Despite the prevailing challenges, expectations persist that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and their allies, collectively known as OPEC+, may extend supply cuts into the second half of the year.

Iraq, the second-largest OPEC producer, expressed commitment to voluntary oil production cuts and emphasized cooperation with member countries to stabilize global oil markets.

However, Iraq’s suggestion that it had fulfilled its voluntary reductions and reluctance to agree to additional cuts proposed by OPEC+ members stirred speculation and uncertainty in the market.

ING analysts pointed out that Iraq’s ability to implement further cuts might be limited, given its previous shortfall in adhering to voluntary reductions.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the oil rig count declined to its lowest level since November, signaling a potential slowdown in domestic oil production.

As oil markets continue to grapple with a complex web of factors influencing supply and demand dynamics, investors and industry stakeholders remain vigilant, closely monitoring developments and adjusting their strategies accordingly in an ever-evolving landscape.

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

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Crude Oil

Nigeria’s Oil Sector Sees $16.6bn Investment Boost, Plans $20bn Expansion

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Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, announced on Monday that approximately $16.6 billion in investments have been committed over the past year.

This significant influx of capital marks a period of rejuvenation for the oil sector following years of stagnation caused by policy inconsistencies and the delayed passage of the Petroleum Industry Act.

Lokpobiri shared these updates during a briefing in Abuja, where he highlighted the achievements in the oil sector since President Bola Tinubu assumed office on May 29, 2023.

The minister emphasized that the government’s efforts to create a more investment-friendly environment have paid off, attracting substantial foreign and domestic investments.

Rekindling Investor Confidence

“One of our main objectives has been to create an environment where investments can thrive,” Lokpobiri stated. “Today, I am pleased to announce that our efforts have rekindled investor confidence in the sector.”

He pointed to notable investments, including $5 billion and $10 billion commitments in deepwater offshore assets, and a $1.6 billion investment in oil and gas asset acquisition.

The surge in investments is attributed to a series of roadshows in the United States and Europe, which successfully showcased Nigeria’s potential and the government’s commitment to sectoral reforms.

This renewed global interest is also evident in the ongoing bid rounds for new assets.

Production Increase and Strategic Initiatives

A significant achievement since President Tinubu took office is the increase in crude oil production.

“When we took office, production was at approximately 1.1 million barrels per day, including condensates,” Lokpobiri reported. “Today, I am proud to report that we have increased our production to approximately 1.7 million barrels per day, inclusive of condensates.”

To achieve this increase, the government has undertaken several strategic initiatives.

These include revamping redundant oil assets, continuous engagement with international oil companies, and resolving industry disputes.

Efforts to protect critical assets and reduce oil theft have also been intensified, with collaborations between private security firms and government agencies leading to a sharp decline in crude oil theft.

Upcoming $20bn Expansion Deal

In addition to the recent investments, Lokpobiri revealed that the Federal Government is on the verge of finalizing a $20 billion deal aimed at further boosting oil and gas production.

During a meeting with Olivier Le Peuch, CEO of Schlumberger Limited, Lokpobiri disclosed that negotiations with major investors are nearing completion. “Investments of over $20 billion are coming. One company alone will invest $10 billion,” he noted.

This deal, once consummated, will represent one of the largest single investments in Nigeria’s oil sector in recent history, promising to significantly enhance the country’s production capacity and economic growth.

Ongoing and Future Projects

Lokpobiri also highlighted the commencement of production from Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 13 and 85, managed by Sterling Exploration and First E&P respectively.

These projects are expected to produce an average of 20,000 and 40,000 barrels per day, further bolstering Nigeria’s output.

This period of renewed investment and increased production is a testament to the government’s commitment to optimizing the nation’s oil and gas assets.

President Tinubu’s administration aims to sustain this momentum, ensuring continued growth and stability in the sector.

Government Transparency and Accountability

In line with President Tinubu’s directive for transparency, all ministers have been tasked with presenting their performance reports to the public.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, announced that the first-anniversary celebrations will include sectoral media briefings by the 47 federal ministers, starting on Thursday.

These briefings are designed to keep Nigerians informed about the government’s achievements and ongoing initiatives.

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Angola’s Oil Sector Lures Investors as Nigeria’s Dominance Wanes

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Nigeria has long held the title of Africa’s leading oil producer but signs are now suggesting a shift as neighbouring country Angola emerges as a new beacon of attraction for international oil companies (IOCs).

The surge in Angola’s popularity among investors highlights a significant challenge to Nigeria’s once-unassailable dominance in the continent’s oil landscape.

Data sourced from Angola’s National Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANPG) reveals an increase of 96 percent in investment in Angola’s oil sector between 2022 and 2023.

Over the past five years, investments totaling almost $50 billion have been recorded, with an additional $71 billion planned over the next five years.

This surge in investment underscores the growing confidence of international players in Angola’s oil market.

The aggressive industry reforms undertaken by Angola since 2017 have been instrumental in attracting investors.

These reforms aim to ensure transparency and competitiveness in the oil and gas market, a move that has resonated positively with foreign players.

The introduction of a six-year licensing round in 2019, guaranteeing yearly investment opportunities in exploration for foreign entities, has been a key feature of Angola’s reform agenda.

One of the most recent licensing rounds, covering 12 blocks in the Lower Congo and Kwanza Basins, saw an overwhelming response with 53 bids submitted, indicating the robust interest in Angola’s oil and gas potential.

José Barroso, Angola’s secretary of state for oil and gas, emphasized the country’s commitment to promoting the industry by aggressively pushing bid rounds aligned with national production targets.

Angola’s regulatory flexibility in oil and gas agreements has been another attractive feature for investors. The introduction of risk service contracts in 2020 as an alternative to traditional production-sharing agreements demonstrates Angola’s adaptability to industry dynamics.

Also, reforms such as the Tax Benefits Code enacted in 2022 aim to create incentives for oil companies operating in the country.

The stability and clarity of Angola’s policy framework have been highlighted as key factors driving investment decisions.

Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of TotalEnergies, pointed out the importance of policy consistency, noting that Angola’s stable framework played a pivotal role in TotalEnergies’ decision to invest $6 billion in the country.

While Angola’s star rises in the oil investment landscape, Nigeria faces challenges that threaten its status as Africa’s top oil producer.

Bureaucratic bottlenecks, contracting delays, and security concerns in the Niger Delta region have hindered Nigeria’s ability to attract and retain investors.

The inconsistency in policy making decisions has further exacerbated the situation, prompting some IOCs to explore more stable investment environments like Angola.

As Angola’s oil sector continues to flourish, Nigeria must address the underlying challenges that have dampened investor confidence.

The resurgence of Angola underscores the need for Nigeria to streamline its regulatory framework, enhance security measures, and foster a more conducive environment for oil investment to maintain its position as a regional powerhouse in the oil industry.

Failure to do so could result in further erosion of Nigeria’s dominance, paving the way for Angola to solidify its position as a formidable competitor in Africa’s oil market.

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Oil Prices Slip 1% Amid Lingering U.S. Inflation, Dampening Fuel Demand

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Oil prices declined by 1 percent amid the uncertainty surrounding the global oil market as the world looks to the Middle East for a solution.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria crude oil is priced, declined by 83 cents, or 1% to $82.88 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) slipped by 54 cents, or 0.7% to $79.26.

The backdrop of escalating U.S. inflation has cast a shadow over the global oil market as higher borrowing costs threaten to curb economic growth and subsequently suppress oil demand.

Ahead of the Memorial Day holiday, which traditionally marks the beginning of the U.S. peak summer driving season, retail gasoline prices have experienced a downward trend, falling for the fourth consecutive week to $3.58 per gallon on Monday, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Despite this, the underlying concerns regarding diminished consumer spending and fuel consumption linger, posing challenges for the oil market.

To address potential supply constraints, the U.S. announced plans to sell nearly 1 million barrels of gasoline from a reserve in northeastern states, with bids due on May 28, as disclosed by the Department of Energy.

This strategic move aims to mitigate any disruptions in gasoline supply, further underscoring the delicate balance between supply and demand dynamics.

Furthermore, U.S. diesel prices have witnessed a decline, down 5.9 cents per gallon on Monday to $3.89, according to the EIA. Diesel, a critical component in both the industrial sector and transport, reflects broader trends in economic activity and consumption patterns.

Investor sentiment remains cautious as they await key developments, including the release of Federal Reserve meeting minutes and U.S. oil inventory data from the EIA, scheduled for Wednesday.

Tim Snyder, an economist at Matador Economics, emphasized the importance of inventory data in shaping market sentiment, suggesting that a potential stock draw could provide support to oil prices within a defined range.

While geopolitical events, such as the tragic death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash on Sunday, have captured global attention, their impact on oil markets has been relatively muted.

The structure of the Brent contract has shown signs of weakening, indicating a softer market sentiment amidst robust supply conditions.

The narrowing of the front-month Brent contract’s premium to the second-month contract to 10 cents, its weakest level since January, further underscores the prevailing market dynamics and supply-demand equilibrium.

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