World oil supply risks being ‘stretched to limit’ — energy watchdog

Already in June the two key producers lifted output by more than 500,000 barrels per day between them, the International Energy Agency said on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 12 July 2018
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World oil supply risks being ‘stretched to limit’ — energy watchdog

  • The International Energy Agency pointed to supply disruptions in Libya after a string of attacks on infrastructure
  • Saudi Arabia and Russia opened their taps ahead of a key Vienna meeting in June where OPEC and Moscow agreed to up output in order to bring prices down

PARIS: Rising global oil supply, driven by crude giants Saudi Arabia and Russia, may come under pressure as key producers face disruptions, the International Energy Agency said Thursday.
The IEA welcomed in its July report last month’s agreement between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia to open the taps in order to bring prices down from multi-year highs.
But it pointed to supply disruptions in Libya after a string of attacks on infrastructure.
It also highlighted continuing unrest in Venezuela and a drop in Iranian exports after President Donald Trump announced he was pulling the United States out of the landmark nuclear deal reached in 2015.
“The large number of disruptions reminds us of the pressure on global oil supply,” the IEA said.
“This will become an even bigger issue as rising production from Middle East Gulf countries and Russia, welcome though it is, comes at the expense of the world’s spare capacity cushion, which might be stretched to the limit.”
The IEA report was published a day after both main oil contracts were sent into freefall by worries over a stronger dollar and the impact of the global trade war on demand.
The selling was also fanned by Libya’s resumption Wednesday of oil exports from its eastern production heartland after a showdown between the war-torn country’s rival authorities.
Even though Libyan exports have resumed, the IEA remains worried for the future.
“At the time of writing, the situation seemed to be improving, but we cannot know if stability will return,” it said.
“The fact that so much production is vulnerable is clearly a cause for concern.”
Also worrisome was the unabating unrest in Venezuela, which has sent output from the Latin American oil giant crashing in recent weeks.
And while Iran has yet to feel the full impact of renewed US sanctions, the IEA fears there could be “an even steeper reduction than the 1.2 million barrels per day seen during the previous round of sanctions.”
Iraq, which is also chronically restive, does not have spare capacity either, leaving most of the job of hiking OPEC production to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
“We see no sign of higher production from elsewhere that might ease fears of market tightness,” the IEA said.
Saudi Arabia and Russia opened their taps ahead of a key Vienna meeting in June where OPEC and Moscow agreed to up output in order to bring prices down.
“Already in June the two key producers lifted output by more than 500,000 barrels per day between them,” the IEA said.
“Saudi Arabia’s sharp increase allowed it to overtake the US and reclaim its position as the world’s second largest crude producer, and if it carries out its intention to produce at a record rate near 11 million barrels per day this month, it will challenge Russia,” it added.
But they alone cannot carry the burden of keeping the oil market stable.
“Despite higher output in June, OPEC oil supply was down 700,000 barrels per day compared to a year ago, with Venezuela lower by nearly 800,000 barrels per day, Angola by 210,000 barrels per day and Libya by 130,000 barrels per day,” the IEA said.
“Even so, global oil output was 1.25 million barrels per day higher than a year ago as rampant US output underpinned healthy non-OPEC growth.”


US, China in feisty clash on trade, influence at APEC

Updated 17 November 2018
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US, China in feisty clash on trade, influence at APEC

  • The world’s top two economies have been embroiled in a spiralling trade war, imposing tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s goods
  • The APEC summit of leaders from 21 countries across the region has developed into a tussle for influence between an increasingly assertive China and a more withdrawn US

PORT MORESBY: China and the United States traded heated barbs Saturday ahead of an APEC summit, lashing out at each other over protectionism, trade tariffs and “chequebook diplomacy” in the region.
In duelling back-to-back speeches at a pre-APEC business forum, China’s President Xi Jinping and US Vice President Mike Pence pulled few punches, laying out sharply contrasting visions for the region of 21 countries.
Xi lashed out at “America First” trade protectionism and in a thinly veiled swipe at Washington stressed that global trade rules should not be applied “with double standards or selfish agendas.”
The world’s top two economies have been embroiled in a spiralling trade war, imposing tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s goods in a confrontation that experts warn could torpedo the global economy.
Xi urged the world to “say no to protectionism and unilateralism,” warning it was a “short-sighted approach and it is doomed to failure.”
For his part, a combative Pence warned that US tariffs would remain in place unless Beijing “changes its ways.”
“We’ve put tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods and that number could more than double,” he told CEOs from around the region.
“We hope for better, but the United States will not change course until China changes its ways.”
President Donald Trump decided to skip the summit in Papua New Guinea, leaving the door open for Xi who arrived two days earlier for a state visit and has been the undoubted star of the show.
The APEC summit of leaders from 21 countries across the region has developed into a tussle for influence between an increasingly assertive China and a more withdrawn US.
In contrast to Trump, Xi arrived before the summit, opening a new road and a school in Port Moresby and holding talks with Pacific Island leaders.
Papua New Guinea rolled out the red carpet for the Chinese leader, with dozens of people from various tribes serenading him sporting parrot feathers, possum pelts and seashell necklaces.
In his speech, Pence lashed out in unusually strong terms at China’s Belt-and-Road initiative that sees China offering loans to poorer countries in the region to improve infrastructure.
The vice president encouraged Pacific nations to embrace the United States, which, he said, did not offer a “constricting belt or a one-way road.”
He said the terms of China’s loans were “opaque at best” and “too often, they come with strings attached and lead to staggering debt.”
As if pre-empting the criticism, Xi defended the plan amid attacks that it is akin to “chequebook diplomacy” to further Chinese interests in the region.
He denied there was a “hidden geopolitical agenda... nor is it a trap as some people have labelled it.”
And the Chinese leader warned that no one would gain from heightened tensions between the US and his emerging superpower.
“History has shown that confrontation — whether in the form of a cold war, hot war or trade war — will produce no winners,” he said.
Pence too stressed that Washington wanted a “better relationship” with Beijing.
“China has an honored place in our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, if it chooses to respect its neighbors’ sovereignty, embrace free, fair, and reciprocal trade, and uphold human rights and religious freedom,” he said.
He added that the United States would join forces with Australia in the development of a new naval base to be built in PNG’s Lombrum Naval Base on Manus island, in what is seen as a move to curb China’s influence in the Pacific.
Officially, the 21 leaders will discuss improving regional economic cooperation under the theme of “embracing the digital future” but the punchy speeches laid the ground for a tense gathering.
Foreign ministers meeting ahead of the summit were unable to publish a joint statement, apparently due to differences over language on World Trade Organization reform.
In the absence of Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the summit itself has been relatively low-key and the focus has turned to the venue Port Moresby.
The capital of Papua New Guinea has been ranked as one of the least liveable cities for expatriates, with a high level of crime, often perpetrated by feared street gangs known as “raskols.”
Delegates have been advised not to venture out alone — especially after dark — and officials and journalists have been hosted on massive cruise ships moored in the harbor due to safety issues and a dearth of hotel rooms.
The run-up to the summit was also overshadowed by the purchase of 40 luxury Maserati cars that sparked anger in the poverty-hit country, which suffers from chronic health care and social problems.