Oil drops as US considers granting some waivers on Iran crude sanctions

The US oil drilling rig count fell for a third consecutive week, as rising costs and pipeline bottlenecks have hindered new drilling since June. (Reuters)
Updated 08 October 2018
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Oil drops as US considers granting some waivers on Iran crude sanctions

  • US sanctions will target Iran’s crude oil exports from November 4
  • Traders said ongoing concerns that the US-Chinese trade war could slow down economic growth

SINGAPORE: Brent crude oil prices fell more than 1 percent on Monday after Washington said it may grant waivers to sanctions against Iran’s oil exports next month, and as Saudi Arabia was said to be replacing any potential shortfall from Iran.
International benchmark Brent crude oil futures were at $83.26 per barrel at 0352 GMT, down 90 cents, or 1.1 percent, from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 54 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $73.80 a barrel.
US sanctions will target Iran’s crude oil exports from November 4, and Washington has been putting pressure on governments and companies worldwide to cut their imports to zero.
However, a US government official said on Friday that the country could consider exemptions for nations that have already shown efforts to reduce their imports of Iranian oil.
In a sign that Iran oil exports won’t fall to nothing from November, India will buy 9 million barrels of Iranian crude next month, Reuters reported on Friday.
Hedge funds cut their bullish wagers on US crude in the latest week to the lowest level in nearly a year, data showed on Friday.
Traders said ongoing concerns that the US-Chinese trade war could slow down economic growth also weighed on crude on Monday.
China’s stocks fell sharply on Monday despite an announcement from Beijing over the weekend that it would slash the level of cash that banks must hold as reserves, a sign of underlying investor anxiety over the heated Sino-US trade war.
Further weighing on oil prices was “chatter that Saudi Arabia has replaced all of Iran’s lost oil,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.
But Innes warned that limited spare production to deal with further supply disruptions meant “the capacity is quickly declining due to Asia’s insatiable demand.”
The US oil drilling rig count fell for a third consecutive week, as rising costs and pipeline bottlenecks have hindered new drilling since June.
Drillers cut two oil rigs in the week to Oct. 5, bringing the total count down to 861, energy services firm Baker Hughes said in its weekly report on Friday.
That is the longest streak of weekly cuts since October last year.
With Iran sanctions still on the table, potential spare capacity constraints and also a slowdown in US drilling, US bank JP Morgan said in its latest cross-asset outlook for clients that it recommended to “stay long Jan ‘19 WTI on supply risks to crude.”


US intelligence says Huawei funded by Chinese state security: report

Updated 20 April 2019
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US intelligence says Huawei funded by Chinese state security: report

  • The accusation comes at a time of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing
  • Huawei dismissed the allegations

US intelligence has accused Huawei Technologies of being funded by Chinese state security, The Times said on Saturday, adding to the list of allegations faced by the Chinese technology company in the West.
The CIA accused Huawei of receiving funding from China’s National Security Commission, the People’s Liberation Army and a third branch of the Chinese state intelligence network, the British newspaper reported, citing a source.
Earlier this year, US intelligence shared its claims with other members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group, which includes Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, according to the report.
Huawei dismissed the allegations in a statement cited by the newspaper.
“Huawei does not comment on unsubstantiated allegations backed up by zero evidence from anonymous sources,” a Huawei representative told The Times.
The company, the CIA and Chinese state security agencies did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
The accusation comes at a time of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing and amid concerns in the United States that Huawei’s equipment could be used for espionage. The company has said the concerns are unfounded.
Authorities in the United States are probing Huawei for alleged sanctions violations.
Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada in December at the request of the United States on charges of bank and wire fraud in violation of US sanctions against Iran.
She denies wrongdoing and her father has previously said the arrest was “politically motivated.”
Amid such charges, top educational institutions in the West have recently severed ties with Huawei to avoid losing federal funding.
Another Chinese technology company, ZTE Corp. , has also been at the center of similar controversies in the United States.
US sanctions forced ZTE to stop most business between April and July last year after Commerce Department officials said it broke a pact and was caught illegally shipping US-origin goods to Iran and North Korea. The sanctions were lifted after ZTE paid $1.4 billion in penalties.
Reuters reported earlier this week that the United States will push its allies at a meeting in Prague next month to adopt shared security and policy measures that will make it more difficult for Huawei to dominate 5G telecommunications networks.