Oil stable on threats of rebel attacks in Nigeria, tighter US crude inventories

Traders say oil prices are unlikely to fall far due to risks to supply disruptions. (Reuters)
Updated 18 January 2018
0

Oil stable on threats of rebel attacks in Nigeria, tighter US crude inventories

SINGAPORE: Oil prices were stable on Thursday, supported by tighter inventories of crude as well as rebel threats of an attack on Nigeria’s petroleum industry, but the market was weighed down by a reported rise in US fuel stocks.
Brent crude futures were at $69.34 at 0753 GMT, down 4 cents from their last close. On Monday, they hit their highest since December 2014 at $70.37 a barrel.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $64.03 a barrel, up 6 cents from their last settlement. WTI marked it highest since December 2014 at $64.89 on Tuesday.
Traders said that oil markets were generally well supported by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia, who started to withhold production in January last year and are expected to continue their restraint through 2018.
Despite this, analysts said the recent oil price rally, which has lifted crude by around 14 percent since early December, may be about to run out of steam.
Data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) on Wednesday showed a well-supplied fuel product market, which could mean lower crude demand going forward.
US refinery crude runs fell by 420,000 barrels per day (bpd) and refined product stocks rose, implying a well-supplied market.
Gasoline stocks rose by 1.8 million barrels while distillate fuels stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, climbed by 609,000 barrels, the API data showed.
Refined product supplies in Asia are also healthy, largely thanks to a sharp rise in exports from China.
“The upside is now limited for oil prices ... US oil producers will ramp up production in the coming months ... US shale oil output will increase by a good 111,000 barrels per day (bpd) next month to 10 million bpd, and ... will rise to about 11 million bpd by the end of next year. This would put the US on par with Saudi Arabia and Russia’s output,” said Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at futures brokerage Forex.com.
Coface, a French trade credit insurance company, said it “forecasts oil prices will consolidate some gains to average $65 (per barrel) in 2018.”
The firm said the reasons for this expected slowdown were an expected rise in US oil output as well as a slowdown in demand growth.
Despite this, traders said prices were unlikely to fall far due to risks to supply disruptions.
In Nigeria, the militant group Niger Delta Avengers threatened to launch attacks on the country’s oil sector in the next few days.
Markets were also supported by a drop in available crude inventories.
US crude inventories fell by 5.1 million barrels in the week ended Jan. 12 to 411.5 million, according to the API.
Official US oil inventory and production data is due on Thursday from the Energy Information Administration.


Saudi oil refinery in Gwadar to help Islamabad save $3 billion a year

Updated 17 February 2019
0

Saudi oil refinery in Gwadar to help Islamabad save $3 billion a year

  • The refinery would produce up to 300,000 barrels per day once completed
  • Saudi Arabia is also setting up reservoirs for liquified natural gas in Pakistan, says Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan expects to agree a deal to build an oil refinery and petrochemical complex at the Balochistani deep-sea Port of Gwadar, during the first state-level visit by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The deal will see Pakistan join with Saudi Aramco to build the facility, expected to cost $10 billion.

“We are working on feasibility studies for the establishment of the oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Gwadar, and will be ready to start by early 2020,” Pakistan’s Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan told Arab News on Thursday.

Once established, the project will help the South Asian nation cut its annual crude oil imports by up to $3 billion annually, in addition to creating thousands of job opportunities in the impoverished western province.

The country spends more than $16 billion each year on importing 26 million tons of petroleum products, including 800 million cubic feet of liquified natural gas (LNG) from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf countries.

Khan claimed the refinery would produce up to 300,000 barrels per day once completed.

“The Saudi authorities have asked us to complete all the initial work on the project on a fast track, as they want to set it up as early as possible,” he said.

A Saudi technical team, including Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih, has visited Gwadar twice in recent months to examine the site for the refinery, getting briefings from Pakistani officials on security in the area near the border with Iran.

“We will ensure complete security for Saudi investments and people working on the project. A detailed security plan has already been chalked up with help of the security agencies,” Khan added.

Pakistan currently has five oil refineries, but they can only satisfy half of its annual demand. Islamabad and Riyadh have long maintained strong ties, with the latter repeatedly offering the former financial assistance. Last year, the Kingdom guaranteed Pakistan $3 billion in foreign currency support for a year, and a further loan worth up to $3 billion in deferred payments for oil imports, to help stave off an economic crisis. The Islamic Republic also received $3 billion from the UAE to protect its foreign reserves.

Khan added that the Pakistani-Arab Refinery Co. (PARCO) was also setting up an oil refinery at Khalifa Point, near the city of Hub in Balochistan. 

“The work on this project is at an advanced stage. Land for it has been acquired and other formalities are being fulfilled,” he said.

Khan hopes the world’s perception of Pakistan will change upon completion of these deals, after years of war in the surrounding region. Exxon Mobil returned to Pakistan last month after 27 years, and started offshore drilling with $75 million of initial investments. 

“All results of the drilling are positive so far, and we expect huge oil and gas reserves to be discovered soon,” he said.

“More foreign companies are contacting us to invest in offshore drilling and exploration. Saudi Arabia is also setting up reservoirs for LNG in Pakistan. More Saudi investment will come to Pakistan with the passage of time.”