Fall in oil prices reflects fears over economic slowdown

Crude prices continued to slide despite the first drawdown on US crude stocks in several weeks. Above, a maze of crude oil pipes and valves at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas (Reuters)
Updated 02 June 2019
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Fall in oil prices reflects fears over economic slowdown

  • Markets found themselves torn once again between supply fears and a looming economic slowdown
  • OPEC’s oil production dropped to a four-year low of 30.17 million barrels per day (bpd) in May

RIYADH: The downward movement in oil prices last week seemed unjustified given the current strong market fundamentals, as markets found themselves torn once again between supply fears and a looming economic slowdown. The Brent crude price closed the week closer to $60 per barrel.
OPEC’s oil production dropped to a four-year low of 30.17 million barrels per day (bpd) in May, according to a Reuters survey, with exports from Iran tumbling to around 400,000 bpd.
Crude prices continued to slide despite the first drawdown on US crude stocks in several weeks. Prices mostly dip on macroeconomic growth concerns, with the US-China trade dispute continuing to overshadow sentiment on the global oil markets.
However, Chinese crude oil imports hit a record 10.2 million bpd, marking a massive increase of 1.2 million bpd year-on-year, tempering concerns over the impact of a trade war on the global economy and oil demand.
One of the main reasons that no oil shortages have materialized yet is that Asia refiners have already shut down 2-3 million bpd of refining capacity for planned maintenance, which will continue throughout June. This seasonal maintenance contributed to relatively lower demand.
Since Asian refiners buy almost 60 percent of their crude intake from the Arabian Gulf, relative prices for sour crudes have been robust. After those facilities’ initial runs on mostly light sweet crude oil from the US shale exports, they began taking more sour medium crude as upgrading units have gone into service.

  • Faisal Mrza is an energy and oil market adviser. He was formerly with OPEC and Saudi Aramco. Reach him on Twitter: @faisalmrza


Urgency needed to boost Palestinian economy: IMF chief

Updated 26 June 2019
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Urgency needed to boost Palestinian economy: IMF chief

  • The MF has been warning of severe deterioration in the Palestinian economy
  • ‘If there is an economic plan, if there is urgency, it’s a question of making sure that the momentum is sustained’

MANAMA: IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Wednesday that major economic growth was possible in the Palestinian territories if all sides showed urgency, as she took part in a US-led conference boycotted by the Palestinian leadership.
The International Monetary Fund has been warning of severe deterioration in the Palestinian economy, with tax revenue blocked in a dispute with Israel which has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade.
“If there is an economic plan, if there is urgency, it’s a question of making sure that the momentum is sustained,” said Lagarde.
The IMF chief is attending a conference in Bahrain to discuss the economic aspects of a United States plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, which has already been rejected by the Palestinians as it fails to address key political issues.
Lagarde said for the US plan to work “it will require all the goodwill in the world on the part of all parties — private sector, public sector, international organizations and the parties on the ground and their neighbors.”
Citing examples of post-conflict countries, Lagarde said that private investors needed progress in several sectors including strengthening the central bank, better managing public finance and mobilizing domestic revenue.
“If anti-corruption is really one of the imperatives of the authorities — as it was in Rwanda, for instance — then things can really take off,” she said.
The plan presented by White House adviser Jared Kushner calls for $50 billion of investment in the Palestinian territories and its neighbors within a decade.
The proposals for infrastructure, tourism, education and more aim to create one million Palestinian jobs.
Gross domestic product in the Gaza Strip declined by eight percent last year, while there was only minor growth in the West Bank.
Kushner, opening the conference on Tuesday, called the plan the “Opportunity of the Century” — and said the Palestinians needed to accept it before a deal can be reached on political solutions.
The Palestinian Authority has rejected the conference, saying that the US and Israel are trying to dangle money to impose their ideas on a political settlement.
Washington says it will unveil the political aspects of its peace deal at a later date, most likely after Israel’s September election.