Oil prices rise on tighter US market, Middle East tensions

A photo taken on October 17, 2017 shows excess flammable gasses burning from gas flares at the Havana oil field, west of the multi-ethnic northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2017
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Oil prices rise on tighter US market, Middle East tensions

SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose on Wednesday, lifted by a fall in US crude inventories and concerns that tensions in the Middle East could disrupt supplies.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $58.27 at 0131 GMT, up 39 cents, or 0.7 percent from their last close — and a third above mid-year levels.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.08 per barrel, up 20 cents, or 0.4 percent and almost a quarter above mid-June levels.
Traders said that prices were pushed up by a drop in US crude inventories as well as concerns that fighting in Iraq and mounting tensions between the United States and Iran could affect supplies.
US crude inventories fell by 7.1 million barrels in the week to Oct. 13 to 461.4 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute (API) said late on Tuesday.
“API data from the US overnight showed a big draw...If $52.83 in WTI and $59.22 in Brent give way, then oil is stepping into a new and much higher range,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.
Official US fuel inventory data is due to be published later on Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration.
Adding to a tightening US market, tensions in the Middle East meant that a risk premium was being priced into oil markets.
Iraqi government forces captured the major Kurdish-held oil city of Kirkuk earlier this week, responding to a Kurdish independence referendum, and there are concerns that fighting could disrupt supplies.
“In the case of Kurdistan, the 500,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Kirkuk oil field cluster is at risk,” US bank Goldman Sachs said on Tuesday.
The Iraq crisis adds to a looming dispute between the United States and Iran. Last Friday US President Donald Trump last week refused to certify Iran’s compliance over a nuclear deal, leaving Congress 60 days to decide further action against Tehran.
During the previous round of sanctions against Iran, some 1 million bpd of oil was cut from global markets.


Volvo quits Iran as US sanctions pressure mounts

Updated 2 min 15 sec ago
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Volvo quits Iran as US sanctions pressure mounts

  • Volvo cannot get paid in Iran due to US sanctions
  • Plans were for at least 5,000 trucks to be assembled in Iran Saipa Diesel says zero Volvo trucks assembled since May

STOCKHOLM, Sweden: Swedish truck maker AB Volvo has stopped assembling trucks in Iran because US sanctions are preventing it from being paid, a spokesman for the company said on Monday.
The sanctions against Iran, reimposed on Aug. 6 by US President Donald Trump after his decision to pull out of a nuclear deal with Tehran, have forced companies across Europe to reconsider their investments there.
Volvo spokesman Fredrik Ivarsson said the trucks group could no longer get paid for any parts it shipped and had therefore decided not to operate in Iran in another blow to the country’s car industry, which unlike the energy and banking sectors, had managed to sign contracts with top European firms.
“With all these sanctions and everything that the United States put (in place) ... the bank system doesn’t work in Iran. We can’t get paid ... So for now we don’t have any business (in Iran),” Ivarsson told Reuters by telephone.
Before the sanctions were reimposed, Volvo had expressed an ambition for Iran to become its main export hub for the Gulf region and North Africa markets.
The European Union has implemented a law to shield its companies, but the sanctions have deterred banks from doing business with Iranian firms as Washington can cut any that facilitate such transactions off from the US financial system.
Volvo was working with Saipa Diesel, part of Iran’s second-largest automaker SAIPA, which was assembling the Swedish firm’s heavy-duty trucks from kits shipped to Iran.
Ivarsson said Volvo had no active orders in Iran as of Monday.
A commercial department manager at Saipa Diesel confirmed that sanctions had prompted Volvo Trucks to terminate their partnership agreement.
“They have decided that due to the sanction on Iran, from (May) they couldn’t cooperate with us. We had some renovation planned in Iran for a new plant but they refused to work with us,” said the manager, who declined to be identified.
More than 3,500 Volvo trucks had been assembled by Saipa Diesel in the year to May, but none had been assembled in this financial year although the original deal was for at least 5,000 trucks, the manager told Reuters.
Swedish truckmaker Scania, which is owned by Volkswagen , said it had canceled all orders that it could not deliver by mid-August due to sanctions, while French carmaker PSA Group began to suspend its joint venture activities in Iran in June.
Germany’s Daimler has said it is closely monitoring any further developments, while carmaker Volkswagen has rejected a report that suggested it had decided against doing business in Iran.