Crude See-Saws as Supply Crunch Muted by Impending Demand Drop
(Bloomberg) -- Oil capped recent gains as international supply concerns were overshadowed by a looming demand drop.
Futures closed down slightly in New York after rising as much as 1.1 percent earlier in Monday’s session. Iranian exports of crude and a key byproduct plunged to a 2 1/2-year low as looming U.S. sanctions discouraged purchasers, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. At the same time, American refiners are about to undertake seasonal mechanical work that requires some equipment to be idled, curtailing crude processing.
“I think the Iran sanctions are a concern to the market,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group. “Despite assurances from OPEC, the ability of OPEC to off-set the losses from not only Iran, but Venezuela and Libya, is going to be a challenge.”
The U.S. benchmark crude has dipped 1.3 percent this month as an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China imperiled demand growth. Oil markets have continued to see-saw as trade-war gloom was tempered by supply threats from Iran, Venezuela and other major producing nations.
Meanwhile, BP Plc’s massive Chicago-area refinery will begin widespread repairs and maintenance work this week that will last into early November, people familiar with the plans said. Affected equipment will include a key oil-processing unit known as a pipestill.
West Texas Intermediate for October delivery settled down 8 cents at $68.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Total volume traded was about 22 percent below the 100-day average.
Brent for November settlement closed down 4 cents at $78.05 on the ICE Futures Europe exchange. The futures traded at a $9.37 premium to the November WTI contract.
Meanwhile, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih met in Moscow Saturday and confirmed their “commitment to stability in the market and readiness to react quickly to changes in market conditions.”
The historic supply deal between Saudi Arabia, Russia and other major producers reached in late 2016 needs to be made permanent, Mohammad Barkindo, OPEC secretary-general, said Sunday in Dubai.
Some other key oil-market figures, news and events:
Gasoline futures rose 0.3 percent to $1.9768 a gallon Russia increased oil production in the first half of September to 11.33 million barrels a day, Interfax reported. Companies, regulators and environmental groups are waiting for record floods to recede in the southeast U.S. so they can make a comprehensive assessment of damage from Hurricane Florence. Abu Dhabi is pushing ahead with an initial public offering for Spanish oil company Cia Espanola de Petroleos SAU, in what could be the largest such deal in a decade.
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