Oil Prices Fall Following U.S. Inventory Rise

20 Juillet, 2018, 10:51 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Media: Japan halts imports of oil from Iran

The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) also exported 17 million tons of fuel oil and 2 million tons of gasoil to neighboring countries in the same year.

Iran traded oil and condensate for around $52 a barrel in 2017.

The main point of disruption is the policy of the United States against Iran. This new mechanism for pricing oil remains outside the United States dollar's institutions, and so not so exposed to USA pressure.

The Iranian government watches its buyers buckle before the pressure from Trump and the United States government.

Crude prices rose on Friday but were set to drop for the week as concerns about oversupply and lower demand due to a possible economic slowdown caused by the trade conflict between the United States and China, the world's two biggest oil users. This is why the USA government is pushing for at least three means to keep prices reasonably low. The U.S. government now holds about 660 million barrels in its underground tanks in Louisiana and Texas. Net U.S. crude imports rose last week to 2.2 million bpd to about 9 million bpd.

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Indian Oil, the South Asian nation's biggest refiner, is working on possibilities of entering into term contracts for U.S. volumes, instead of the current practice of purchasing from the spot market, Chairman Sanjiv Singh said in an interview. This is a very small amount, but it is highly symbolic. While it initially took a while for OPEC members to gain traction in cutting production to the agreed upon levels, soon OPEC was over-complying thanks to additional cuts from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The Kingdom, suffering its own economic crisis, is nonetheless willing to cut off its nose to spite its face.

Saudi Arabia boosted production sharply last month, raising crude shipments to world markets by 390,000 bpd to 7.6 million bpd, Kpler tanker-tracking data showed. Alternative suppliers include Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Nor does Russian Federation (not an OPEC member), which has also indicated-despite the USA sanctions against it-that it would pump part of its excess capacity of 300,000 bpd.

Can these three approaches make up for the decline of 900,000bpd cut since September (two-thirds of this from Venezuela) and for the decline of a further 1mbpd from Iran after November? If oil prices rise and if there is pressure on impoverished states to cut oil subsidies, the kind of protests that took place in Haiti recently should be expected. A fifth of the world's oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, nearly half of the oil brought to the surface in West Asia. Iran points to the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Law of the Sea, whose Article 16 says that coastal states might "take the necessary steps in its territorial sea to prevent passage which is not innocent".

But even if Iran is on solid ground, it would have a hard time closing the Strait, which - at its narrowest - has a width of 55 kilometers. The U.S. naval base in Bahrain is entirely there to keep the Straits open.

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

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