Oil prices edge down from near 2-1/2 year high

Equipment used to process carbon dioxide, crude oil and water is seen at an Occidental Petroleum Corp. enhanced oil recovery project in Hobbs, New Mexico, US. (Reuters/Ernest Scheyder/File Photo)
Updated 07 November 2017
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Oil prices edge down from near 2-1/2 year high

TOKYO: Oil prices edged lower on Tuesday after posting the biggest gains in six weeks a day earlier, buoyed by moves by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince to tighten his grip on power and rising tensions between the kingdom and Iran.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude slipped 10 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $57.25 a barrel by 0231 GMT. The contract surged 3 percent on Monday, the biggest percentage gain since late September.
Brent crude futures were down 19 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $64.08. On Monday, they closed 3.5 percent higher, also their biggest percentage gain in about six weeks.
Both benchmarks hit their highest since mid-2015 during the session.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman moved to shore up his power base with the arrest of royals, ministers and investors, including billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal and the powerful head of the National Guard, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah.
The arrests, which an official described as part of “phase one” of the crackdown, are the latest in a series of dramatic steps by Prince Mohammed to tighten his grip at home.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran also rose further. The Saudi Arabia-led military coalition fighting against the Houthi movement in Yemen said on Monday it was closing all Yemeni air, sea and land crossings.
The move came after a missile was fired toward Riyadh on Saturday. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have said they see Iran as responsible for the Yemen conflict and, on Monday Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said his country reserves the right to respond to Iran’s “hostile actions.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saudi Arabia was blaming Tehran for the consequences of its own “wars of aggression.”
“A potential conflict could limit significant supply out of the region,” Shane Chanel, equities and derivatives adviser at ASR Wealth Advisers, said in an email. “We see WTI above $60 and may even see Brent above $70 by the end of the year.”
Despite the moves by the Saudi heir, analysts said they do not see Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, changing its policy of boosting crude prices for now.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said that while there is “satisfaction” with a production-cutting deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers led by Russia, the “job is not done yet.”
OPEC is expected to extend a cut of around 1.8 million barrels per day into the whole of 2018.
US drillers cut eight oil rigs last week, the biggest reduction since May 2016, helping to support prices.
While supplies are tightening, analysts said demand remains strong.
Speculators increased their bets on gains in the price of Brent to a record high.


Huawei secretly helped North Korea build, maintain wireless network: Washington Post

Updated 22 July 2019
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Huawei secretly helped North Korea build, maintain wireless network: Washington Post

WASHINGTON: Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , the Chinese company put on a US black list because of national security concerns, secretly helped North Korea build and maintain its commercial wireless network, the Washington Post reported on Monday, citing sources and internal documents.
The Chinese telecommunications giant partnered with a state-owned Chinese firm, Panda International Information Technology Co. Ltd., on a number of projects in North Korea over at least eight years, the Post reported.
Such a move would raise questions of whether Huawei, which has used US technology in its components, violated American export controls to furnish North Korea with equipment, according to the Post.
The United States put Huawei on a blacklist in May, citing national security concerns. The move banned US companies from selling most US parts and components to Huawei without special licenses but President Donald Trump said last month American firms could resume sales in a bid to restart trade talks with Beijing.
Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said in a statement to the Washington Post it had “no business presence” in North Korea. It was not immediately possible to reach the Panda Group.
The Commerce Department, which also did not immediately respond to a request for comment, has investigated possible links between Huawei and North Korea since 2016 but has not publicly connected the two, the Post said.
Huawei and Panda vacated their Pyongyang office in the first half of 2016, the newspaper reported.