Oil dips in nervous trading as U.S.-China trade war looms

06 Juillet, 2018, 14:52 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • China says unilateral pressure on trade will be futile

An oil pump jack is seen at sunset near Midland, Texas, U.S., May 3, 2017.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate and worldwide bench-mark Brent crude oil futures are trading mixed in limited action.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $77.18 per barrel at 0043 GMT, down 21 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last close.

Oil prices initially fell on Friday, along with Asian stock markets.

China has said it would immediately retaliate with its own tariffs, and U.S. President Trump said on Thursday the United States may ultimately impose tariffs on more than a half-trillion dollars worth of Chinese goods, in what may become a fully blown trade war.

Washington has announced tariffs on Chinese goods from 12:01 a.m. Washington D.C. time (0401 GMT) on Friday.

Beijing has said it may include a 25 percent tariff on USA crude oil imports, although it has not specified a date on which it would include that duty.

In an early sign of future times, an executive from China's Dongming Petrochemical Group, an independent refiner from Shandong province, said his refinery had already cancelled US crude orders.

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Although just 5 percent of China's overall crude imports, these supplies are worth $1 billion a month at current prices - a figure that seems certain to fall.

Weighing on prices was a rise in U.S. crude inventories of 1.2 million barrels in the week to June 29, to 417.88 million barrels, the U.S. Energy Administration (EIA) said on Thursday.

"We will monitor the effect of the USA -provoked trade war on businesses and strive to help mitigate any possible impact", he said.

He added that his refinery had canceled US crude imports and would switch to Middle East or West African supplies instead.

Energy consultancy FGE this week issued a stark warning of looming supply shortages due to U.S. sanctions against Iran and also because of disruptions elsewhere.

"Iran's exports are some 2.7 million bpd, including condensate", it noted. It estimated that once U.S. sanctions are fully implemented, some 1.7 to 2 million bpd of crude and condensate would be taken out of the market. South Korea, a major buyer of Iranian oil and condensate, will not lift any Iranian oil in July for the first time since August 2012, three sources familiar with the matter said on Friday. Venezuela is expected to lose another 400,000 bpd by year-end with production going to below 1 million bpd.

JTD Energy's Driscoll said China may even replace American oil with crude from Iran.

Although Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation have said they would raise output to make up for disruptions, FGE said "there simply is not enough capacity to make up for Iran's crude losses, plus Venezuela and Libya", and warned of the possibility of oil prices rising to $100 per barrel.

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