Oil remains weak amid concern about rising supply

10 November, 2018, 11:56 | Author: Brooke Harris
  • Workers at an onshore Iranian oil facility

Crude oil prices fell Tuesday, briefly entering bear market territory, after the USA said it will allow some of Iran's biggest customers to continue importing the Opec member's crude without violating reinstated US sanctions.

However, one source said the United States had attached strings to the waivers, including counterparty disclosures and laying open settlement methods, which were being evaluated before placing new orders with Iran.

Oil markets initially rebounded on Wednesday from their lowest level since August after reports emerged of plans by leading producers Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia to curtail production next year to reverse a recent price plunge.

U.S. bank Morgan Stanley said "oil market fundamentals have softened (as) supply continues to come in higher-than-expected, particularly from the U.S., Middle East OPEC, Russia and Libya". "Softening the Iranian sanctions keeps more oil on the market longer as demand looks to be less robust", Verrastro said.

China and India were the largest markets for Iranian crude before the onset of sanctions and will remain such for the upcoming six months.

Preventing crude from rising further, however, was record U.S. crude production, which hit a whopping 11.6 million bpd in the week ending Nov 2, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data released on Wednesday. The group's average price is below Saudi Arabia's fiscal breakeven price which is just under $80/bbl this year. The EIA expects output to break through 12 million bpd by mid-2019, largely thanks to a surge in shale oil production. Those countries are now pumping at near record levels with figures suggesting 33 million barrels per day, or a third of the world's oil, is being produced by the trio. Libya and Nigeria increased production. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that the sanctions will cause Iran's economy to contract 1.5 per cent this year and 3.6 per cent next year - pain that Trump has boasted about.

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Analysts said those countries may be more willing to cut output now that the USA midterm elections are over.

That has not started yet: indeed, during October, Chinese crude imports hit an all-time high amid indications that the country's manufacturers were stepping up production ahead of U.S. tariffs kicking in.

This week, reports emerged that South Korea received a waiver allowing it to import around 4 million barrels a month, equal to about 130,000 bpd, of Iranian crude and condensate.

That may led to crude stockpiles, as has been seen in the USA, growing further.

At the same time, output from the world's top-three producers, Russian Federation the United States and Saudi Arabia, is rising. Most recent monthly data for August showed overall production at more than 11.3 million bpd. "I think there are windows where you could perceive it to be tight, and I think the markets got caught into that", Christyan Malek, head of EMEA oil and gas research at J.P. Morgan told CNBC on Friday.


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