World energy agency warns of calm before sanctions storm as oil steadies

The International Energy Agency (IEA) warns that the global oil market might be experiencing the calm before the storm. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2018
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World energy agency warns of calm before sanctions storm as oil steadies

LONDON: The International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that the global oil market might be experiencing the calm before the storm.
While concerns about world trade arising from the tariffs dispute between the US and China have depressed demand expectations, the introduction of sanctions against Iran could pull the market in the other direction, the agency said.
“Sentiment is sandwiched between fears that a US-China trade dispute will hurt oil demand and looming Iranian supply shortages,” Stephen Brennock, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates, told Reuters.
The IEA did not change its forecast for global demand for oil to increase by 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd).
However, it raised its forecast for demand growth next year to reach 1.5 bpd.
“The recent cooling down of the market, with short-term supply tensions easing, currently lower prices, and lower demand growth might not last,” the IEA said in its monthly report.
“As oil sanctions against Iran take effect, perhaps in combination with production problems elsewhere, maintaining global supply might be very challenging and would come at the expense of maintaining an adequate spare capacity cushion,” the IEA said.
The Paris-based organization noted that by the time it publishes its next report in mid-September, it will only be six weeks before the US deadline for ceasing purchase of oil from Iran.
Oil prices steadied in afternoon trade in London on Friday, rising by about 20 cents to $72.27 a barrel.
A trade war between the US and China is seen as a negative for the oil price as less energy is required for production.
China has removed crude oil from the list of additional tariffs it plans to impose on the US, worth some $16 billion.
Even so, Chinese imports of US oil are expected to fall dramatically.
At the same time, analysts are watching for the fallout from the introduction of US sanctions against Iran, which are set to include oil from November.
While the EU, China and India do not support the new sanctions against Tehran, they are nonetheless expected to fall into line behind the US.
Global trade tensions have helped to strengthen the dollar in what was a tumultuous week on global currency markets. The Turkish lira plunged on Friday, while the Russian rouble also came under pressure.
Oil is traded in dollars which makes it more expensive for importing countries.
“Oil, like other commodities, is responding to dollar strength,” Harry Tchilinguirian, head of oil strategy at French bank BNP Paribas in London, told the Reuters Global Oil Forum.


World’s biggest sovereign fund worried about trade wars

Updated 21 August 2018
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World’s biggest sovereign fund worried about trade wars

  • The fund posted a positive return of 1.8 percent, or 167 billion kroner ($19.8 billion), in the second quarter
  • Markets are worried about a trade dispute between the United States and China

OSLO: The managers of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, expressed concern Tuesday about global trade tensions, which could heavily impact its value.
The fund posted a positive return of 1.8 percent, or 167 billion kroner ($19.8 billion), in the second quarter, helping erase a loss of 171 billion kroner in January-March that was attributed to a volatile stock market.
The Government Pension Fund Global, which saw its total value swell to 8.33 trillion kroner by the end of June, manages the country’s oil revenues in order to finance Norway’s generous welfare state when its oil and gas wells run dry.
But Norway’s central bank, which runs the fund, said geopolitical and trade tensions presented a risk.
“It’s fair to say that increased trade barriers or even trade wars will not be beneficial for the fund as a long-term global investor,” Trond Grande, the deputy chief of Norges Bank Investment Management, told reporters.
Markets are worried about a trade dispute between the United States and China. Accusing Beijing of unfair competition, the US administration is considering slapping a new round of levies worth $200 billion on Chinese goods.
Talks between the two slated for Wednesday and Thursday aimed at resolving the dispute have however eased concerns somewhat.
Following US-Turkey tensions that sent the Turkish lira and the Istanbul stock market tumbling, the Norwegian fund said its assets there were worth less than the 23 billion kroner they were at the beginning of the year.
“We’ve seen the market rise for a long time, that there are different political and geopolitical events in the world that can affect the market, and we have to be prepared for the fact that (the value of) the fund can go down a lot,” Grande concluded.
The fund’s strong second quarter was attributed primarily to its share portfolio, which accounts for 66.8 percent of its investments and which rose by 2.7 percent.
Real estate holdings, which account for 2.6 percent of its holdings, rose by 1.9 percent, while bond investments, which represent 30.6 percent, remained flat.
Faced with falling oil revenues in recent years, the Norwegian government has been tapping the fund to finance public spending since 2015. But with oil prices recovering, the fund registered its first inflow in three years in June.