Oil jumps on fears of new Iran sanctions, Iraq conflict

Iraqis queue outside a petrol station in Kirkuk, in this October 13, 2017 photo, amidst mounting tension between Iraq and its northern autonomous Kurdish region. (AFP)
Updated 16 October 2017
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Oil jumps on fears of new Iran sanctions, Iraq conflict

SINGAPORE: Oil markets jumped on Monday on concerns over potential renewed US sanctions against Iran as well as conflict in Iraq, while a falling US rig count supported prices there.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $57.82 at 0156 GMT, up 65 cents, or 1.1 percent, from the previous close.
Traders said that worries over renewed US sanctions against Iran were pushing prices up.
US President Donald Trump struck a blow against the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Friday, defying both US allies and adversaries by refusing to formally certify that Tehran is complying with the accord even though international inspectors say it is.
Under US law, the president must certify every 90 days to Congress that Iran is complying with the deal. The US Congress will now have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran that were lifted under the pact.
During the previous round of sanctions against Iran, some 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil supplies were cut off global markets. While analysts said they did not expect renewed sanctions to have such a big impact again, especially as the United States would likely act alone, they did warn that such a move would be disruptive.
“If Iran (were) found breaching their nuclear agreement and had their trade agreement revoked, (that) would be the biggest catalyst for upward momentum on crude prices,” said Shane Chanel, equities and derivatives adviser at ASR Wealth Advisers.
There were also concerns about the stability of Iraq, the second biggest oil producer within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) behind Saudi Arabia.
Iraqi forces on Sunday began moving toward oil fields and an important air base held by Kurdish forces near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, Iraqi and Kurdish officials said.
Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader said that “Trump’s reopening of the Iran nuclear issue, (and) the ongoing threat of the Kurdish pipeline being cut off” were the main factors pushing up oil prices.

US RIG COUNT DROPS
Within the United States, crude prices were also up as drillers cut back the number of rigs tapping new production.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading at $51.86 per barrel, up 41 cents, or 0.8 percent.
Drillers cut five oil rigs in the week to Oct. 13, bringing the total count up to 743, the lowest since early June, General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report late on Friday.


Ryanair inks new deals with unions in Europe

Updated 50 min 17 sec ago
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Ryanair inks new deals with unions in Europe

  • Ryanair pilots across Europe staged a 24-hour stoppage in September to push their demands also for better pay and conditions

LONDON: Ryanair has inked deals with more unions across Europe, the Irish no-frills airline said Friday as it looks to avoid further strike action threatened by pilots and cabin crew.
“These signed agreements with our pilot unions in Portugal, the UK, Italy and shortly in Spain, demonstrate the considerable progress we’re making in concluding union agreements with our people in our major EU markets,” Ryanair’s head of human resources Eddie Wilson said in a company statement.
But the latest agreements are only a stepping stone toward the key demand of Ryanair staff outside Ireland that the airline stop employing them under Irish legislation.
Employees argue that the status quo creates huge insecurity for them, blocking access to state benefits in their own countries.
Ryanair’s statement came one day after Belgian unions representing the airline’s cabin crew threatened “several strike days before the end of the year” by Europe-wide employees.
Ryanair pilots across Europe staged a 24-hour stoppage in September to push their demands also for better pay and conditions, plunging tens of thousands of passengers into transport chaos at the peak of the busy summer season.
In July meanwhile, strikes by cockpit and cabin crew disrupted 600 flights in Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, affecting 100,000 travelers.
Earlier this month, Ryanair slashed its profits forecast and signaled job losses in the Netherlands and Germany as it reported on the fallout of the pan-European strikes.
An update on its earnings outlook and past performance is due Monday when Ryanair publishes half-year results.