U.S. crude imports from West Africa dry upViewAccording to data from the EIA, there have been no imports of crude oil from Nigeria to the U.S. in seven of the last eight weeks. Light sweet crude exports from Nigeria to the U.S hovered above 1 million bpd between 2004 and 2007, but have since been in gradual decline as the shale oil boom has provided ample supplies of domestic crude for U.S refineries. Algeria’s exports have averaged 17,000 bpd this year, down from 330,000 bpd in 2010, and Angolan shipments have fared slightly better falling from 385,000 bpd in 2010 to 105,000 bpd this year. U.S crude imports are slowly slipping towards 7 million bpd, the lowest level since 1996 and a full 3 million bpd lower than during the 2004-2007 stretch.
China’s house prices dropped again in AugustViewAccording to a local survey which covers 100 cities in China, the average new house prices last month dropped by 0.6% from July. This is the fourth consecutive month for China’s new house market facing lowering prices. Although the pressure over China’s property market remains almost unchanged, the downward momentum has slowed down slightly - according to the same survey, prices in July fell by 0.8% compared to June. Most of the tier-2 and tier-3 cities in China have loosened their local curbing policies during the past few months, combined with partially improved regional credit environment. Furthermore, September and October are seasonally strong months for property sales. All the above may bring some mild recovery to China’s housing market in the near future.
Weekly Oil Price ReviewViewGlobal crude benchmarks took different paths on Monday as geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and Libya gave support to the Brent whilst disappointing data from the U.S. dragged down WTI futures. Brent rose $0.36 to $102.65/bbl and WTI fell $0.30 to settle at $93.35/bbl. Unexpected positive consumer data from the U.S and a discounted probability of supply disruption in Europe saw the trends reverse on Tuesday, and WTI rose $0.51/bbl whilst Brent fell $0.15/bbl. Futures traded flat on Wednesday with little new information reaching the market and strength in equities which may have possibly diverted investors’ attention from crude. Finally, Brent fell $0.26/bbl on Thursday as traders seemed to shrug off news of tensions in Europe given the little tangible impact they have had so far, and WTI rose $0.67/bbl. Overall, between Monday and Thursday Brent and WTI rose from $102.29 to $102.46/bbl and $93.65 to $94.55/bbl respectively.
Korean Refinery Crude Runs at Eight-Month RecordViewAccording to data from Korea National Oil Corp., South Korean crude refinery throughput jumped to the highest level since last November this July, hitting 2.57 million bpd following a 159,000 bpd boost from June on the back of refinery startups and turnarounds. July petroleum product exports jumped by 124,000 bpd from June, and while the country’s crude imports fell two percent year-on-year, they still grew by 180,000 bpd from the previous month.
Crude inventories reach record high in ChinaViewAccording to data from International Oil Daily, Chinese commercial crude inventories jumped 41.1 million barrels year-on-year in July, a sizeable 19% increase to reach a new high of 254.79 million barrels. This reflects the fact that Chinese refinery crude throughput growing 2.8% from last year isn’t able to keep up with the 7.2% year-on-year growth in imports.
Waha field operations return to normalViewAccording to a report published this week by the Wall Street Journal, operations at the Waha oilfield in Eastern Libya have returned to normal after a little over a year of downtime due to domestic unrest. With the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf eastern terminals open, Libya’s export capacity has bounced back to around 600,000 bpd as output has steadily increase from 217,000 bpd in April to 500,000 bpd in August. The Waha field supplied approximately 350,000 bpd before closing down temporarily last year.
Weekly Oil Price ReviewViewBrent and WTI kicked off the week under continued downward pressure as news of alleviated tensions around the globe came to the market. US crude futures lost almost $1/bbl and Brent kept flat. WTI futures tumbled again on Tuesday whilst Brent found some support and limited its losses following a week of gradual price declines, as oversupply in North America widened the spread between both crudes. Both crudes bounced back on Wednesday, although analysts were quick to denounce the gains as unconvincing due to perceived unfavourable fundamentals in the supply and demand balance. Finally, Thursday saw further gains for both crudes, supported by positive news such as gains in gasoline futures, strong US refinery utilization, reduced Saudi Arabian output and a spur in Asian buying. Overall between Monday and Thursday Brent rose slightly from $102.53 to $102.63/bbl and WTI fell from $97.35 to $93.96/bbl.
Kurdistan’s independent oil pipeline capacity to doubleViewAccording to industry sources and oil officials, Iraqi Kurdistan’s pipeline will almost double to 200,000 bpd once upgrade work is finished, keeping up the oil revenues lifeline for the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq. The upgrade is due to be completed by the end of this month.
Indian crude imports from Iran rise over 30%ViewAccording to news agency Reuters, Iran’s crude oil shipments to India rose by a third during the first half of 2014 following the relaxation of international sanctions. Exports to India, the second biggest importer of Iranian crude, totalled 281,000 bpd between January and June compared to 211,400 bpd a year ago, which made Iran’s share of total Indian crude imports jump from 5.4 percent last year to 7.3 percent this year. Asian buyers are expected to import about 1.25 to 1.3 million bpd of Iranian oil in the first half of 2014.
Tokyo Steel keeps its product prices unchanged in SeptemberViewTokyo Steel Manufacturing announced that it will keep its product prices unchanged for September, which will be the eighth consecutive month for this steel maker to maintain its prices. Japan’s economic growth saw headwinds during the previous quarter and the higher consumption tax is said to be the reason. Tokyo Steel said Japan’s steel market has been recovering slowly since July, however they prefer to leave their prices flat next month. Last week Baosteel, one of the leading players in Chinese steel industry, also said to keep their prices unchanged in September. Baosteel and Tokyo Steel are competitors in the international market. Their movements didn’t imply any strong recovery in the Asian steel market in near future.