Oil nudges higher on Venezuela and Iran sanctions, OPEC cuts

The easing of a transportation bottleneck for low-cost US Permian Basin shale oil, could lead to higher US production. (AFP)
Updated 07 March 2019
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Oil nudges higher on Venezuela and Iran sanctions, OPEC cuts

  • Prices are being supported by efforts led by the OPEC and other countries to withhold around 1.2 million barrels per day
  • US sanctions against the oil industries of OPEC members Iran and Venezuela have also had an impact

SINGAPORE: Oil edged up on Thursday amid ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts and US sanctions against exporters Venezuela and Iran, but price gains were capped by record US crude output and rising commercial fuel inventories.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $56.31 per barrel at 0637 GMT, up 9 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last settlement.
Brent crude futures were at $66.22 per barrel, up 23 cents, or 0.4 percent.
Prices are being supported by efforts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other countries — a grouping known as ‘OPEC+’ — to withhold around 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil, a strategy aimed at tightening markets.
“In our view, OPEC’s strategy is to rebalance the market as quickly as possible and exit the cuts by the end of June in order to grow production alongside shale producers in the second half of this year,” US investment bank Goldman Sachs said in a note on Wednesday.
US sanctions against the oil industries of OPEC members Iran and Venezuela have also had an impact, traders said.
Venezuela’s state-run oil firm PDVSA this week declared a maritime emergency, citing trouble accessing tankers and personnel to export its oil amid the sanctions.
Despite these factors, oil remains in plentiful supply thanks to surging US production.
US crude oil stockpiles rose much more than expected last week, with inventories up by 7.1 million barrels to 452.93 million barrels, according to a weekly report by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday.
“There was a surprisingly large stockbuild, which was bearish,” French bank Societe Generale said in a note following the EIA report.
Meanwhile US crude oil production remained at a record 12.1 million bpd, an increase of more than 2 million bpd since early 2018.
That, along with the easing of a transportation bottleneck for low-cost US Permian Basin shale oil, could lead to higher production, Goldman Sachs said.
“The balance between rising US production and the OPEC+ efforts to stabilize prices with a production cut was broken by higher than expected US inventories and the OECD warning of lower global growth impacting energy demand going forward,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior analyst at futures brokerage OANDA.
The Organization for Economic Co-Operation & Development (OECD) said on Wednesday the world economy would grow 3.3 percent in 2019, down 0.2 percentage points from the OECD’s last set of forecasts in November.


Funds managing $2 trillion urge cement makers to act on climate impact

A general view of Gulf Cement Company in Ghalilah, Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates July 16, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 min ago
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Funds managing $2 trillion urge cement makers to act on climate impact

  • The cement industry produces 7 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency, meaning that if it were a country, it would be the third largest emitter, behind the US and China

LONDON: European funds managing $2 trillion in assets called on cement companies to slash their greenhouse gas emissions on Monday, warning that a failure to do so could put their business models at risk.
Some asset managers are ramping up engagement with heavy polluters to demand a faster transition to a cleaner economy.
“The cement sector needs to dramatically reduce the contribution it makes to climate change,” said Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, which has more than 170 members, mainly European pension funds and asset managers. “This is ultimately a business-critical issue for the sector,” Pfeifer said in a statement.
The group said investors had written to cement or construction materials companies including Ireland’s CRH, Franco-Swiss group LafargeHolcim and France’s St. Gobain to demand they achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
They also noted that Germany’s HeidelbergCement had already adopted the target. The funds urged all cement companies to align themselves with the 2015 Paris agreement to combat global warming, engage with policymakers to ensure an orderly transition to a low carbon economy, and increase their reporting of climate risk.
“Construction materials companies may ultimately risk divestment and lack of access to capital as an increasing number of investors seek to exclude highly carbon-intensive sectors from their portfolios,” said Vincent Kaufmann, CEO of the Ethos Foundation.

FASTFACT

The cement industry produces 7 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency.

Signatories collectively manage assets worth $2 trillion and include Aberdeen Standard Investments, BNP Paribas Asset Management, Sarasin & Partners and Hermes EOS.
Although funds are increasingly engaging with companies from airlines to carmakers on emissions, few are calling for the systemic transformation of the global economic system that scientists increasingly argue is needed to prevent runaway climate breakdown.
The cement industry produces 7 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency, meaning that if it were a country, it would be the third largest emitter, behind the US and China.
With climate campaigners traditionally focused on fossil fuel companies, the European cement sector has received comparatively little scrutiny until recently.
On Tuesday, police arrested six climate activists from civil disobedience group Extinction Rebellion at a protest aimed at disrupting a site in east London belonging to London Concrete, a unit of LafargeHolcim.
In June last year, a report from think-tank Chatham House concluded that although there was no “silver bullet” to reduce emissions from cement, it should be possible to deploy a range of policies and technologies to achieve deep decarbonization.