Saudi oil minister talks of need to strengthen links on Iraq visit

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih speaks to reporters during the 7th Iraq Oil and Gas Show in Basra this week. Saudi Arabia and Iraq are boosting ties. (AP)
Updated 05 December 2017
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Saudi oil minister talks of need to strengthen links on Iraq visit

BASRA: In the latest sign of improving relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom’s oil minister attended an energy conference in the southern Iraqi port city of Basra on Tuesday.
Khalid Al-Falih said Saudi Arabia wants to expand investment projects in Iraq to include energy, manufacturing and natural resources.
“These are all considered important steps in bringing Iraq back to the Arab fold as well as to open Iraqi markets for international goods,” Al-Falih said. “We see our cooperation and coordination as very strategic and crucial for both of our countries. It doubles our success, growth and prosperity, again and again.”
Iraq is looking for regional support as the country struggles to rebuild after ousting the Daesh group from major cities and as it deals with an independence movement in its northern Kurdish region.
The US has encouraged Baghdad to improve relations with Saudi Arabia to counter Tehran’s influence in the region. US President Donald Trump’s administration views Iran as a regional menace.
Saudi Arabia’s oil minister visited Baghdad in October, making a high-profile speech in the Iraqi capital calling for greater economic cooperation. That same month a commercial Saudi Arabian airliner landed at Baghdad airport for the first time in 27 years, and in August the two countries announced plans to open the land crossing along their shared border.
Iraq and Saudi Arabia have had strained relations since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Iran gained wide influence over the Shiite-majority country after the 2003 US-led invasion. Tensions between Riyadh and Baghdad only began to thaw in 2015, when Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy.
Saudi Arabia is the biggest oil producer in OPEC, followed by Iraq.


Oil prices drop amid surprise jump in US stockpiles

Updated 58 min 21 sec ago
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Oil prices drop amid surprise jump in US stockpiles

  • US West Texas Intermediate crude was down 36 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $67.72
  • On the demand-side, intensifying risks over trade tensions between the US and China could drag on the global economic outlook, BMI Research said

TOKYO: Oil prices dropped on Wednesday after an industry group reported that US crude inventories rose last week, defying analyst expectations for a significant reduction.
Brent futures were down 31 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $71.85 a barrel by 0240 GMT. They rose 32 cents to $72.16 a barrel on Tuesday, after earlier touching a three-month low.
US West Texas Intermediate crude was down 36 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $67.72. It settled up 2 cents at $68.08 a barrel the session before, coming off a nearly one-month low.
The benchmarks had steadied after big declines on Monday and last week as supply disruptions in Venezuela came to the fore and as analysts had been forecasting a decline of 3.6 million barrels in US inventories for the week through July 13.
But the specter of oversupply quickly returned, with a rise of more than 600,000 barrels in US crude stockpiles, reported by the American Petroleum Institute late on Tuesday.
Official numbers from the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration are due at 10:30 a.m. EDT on Wednesday.
On the demand-side, intensifying risks over trade tensions between the US and China could drag on the global economic outlook, BMI Research said.
“Despite US-China trade tensions, the economic outlook is broadly positive, but a number of headwinds are emerging, not least a stronger dollar, rising inflationary pressures and tightening liquidity,” BMI said.
“Slowing trade growth will weigh on physical demand for oil, with the shipping, road and air freight sectors an important pillar of demand globally,” BMI said.
One US central banker added her voice late on Tuesday to those sounding caution on trade.
Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Esther George said that uncertainty over US trade policy could slow the economy, even if the recently imposed tariffs in and of themselves are too small to have a big impact.
George called trade policy a “significant” downside risk to her outlook for economic growth, even as tax cuts and other fiscal policy is an upside risk.