Oil sets new seven-month low on trade tensions grow

S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 38 cents. (AFP)
Updated 08 August 2019

Oil sets new seven-month low on trade tensions grow

  • Brent crude futures were down 70 cents

LONDON: Oil prices fell further on Wednesday, extending recent heavy losses as deepening US-China trade tensions weighed on the outlook for the global economy and energy demand.

Brent crude futures were down 70 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $58.26 a barrel in early afternoon trade in London, setting a fresh seven-month low. Prices have lost more than 20 percent since hitting their 2019 peak in April.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 38 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $53.25.

Brent has plunged more than 10 percent over the past week after US President Donald Trump said he would slap a 10% tariff on a further $300 billion in Chinese imports from Sept. 1, sending global equity markets into a tailspin.

“The market continues to grow more uncertain about the demand outlook given the deterioration of trade talks between China and the US,” ING analysts said in a note.

The bank lowered its 2019 price outlook, mostly because of demand concerns, forecasting that global oil supplies will exceed consumption in the first half of next year.

FASTFACT

The price of Brent crude has fallen by about 10 percent over the past week.

Trump on Tuesday dismissed fears that the trade row with China could be drawn out further. His comments failed to prevent shares in Asia from falling for an eighth straight session on Wednesday. London’s FTSE 100 gained.

“We believe that the oil market is now in a phase of exaggeration. Demand is not sufficiently weak to justify the current price performance. Assuming there is no recession, oil demand should continue to see robust growth,” Commerzbank said in a note.

Tensions in the Middle East remain high after Iran seized a number of tankers in recent weeks in the Strait of Hormuz, a major chokepoint for oil shipments.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih and US Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Tuesday expressed mutual concern over threats targeting freedom of maritime traffic in the Gulf.

“There are concerns that an event could occur at any moment ... the risk might be shifting to the upside in the near term for oil contracts,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

Elsewhere, data indicating a larger-than-expected drop in US crude stocks offered some support to oil prices after several weeks of large draws on inventories.

Official data from the government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due on Wednesday.

The EIA on Tuesday lowered its domestic oil growth forecasts for the year after Hurricane Barry disrupted Gulf of Mexico output in July. Production is set to rise by 1.28 million barrels per day to 12.27 million bpd this year.


Gulf Marine CEO quits after review sparks profit warning

Updated 22 August 2019

Gulf Marine CEO quits after review sparks profit warning

  • Tensions in the Arabian Gulf, a worrisome global growth outlook and uncertainty over oil prices have recently dampened investor confidence

DUBAI: Gulf Marine Services said on Wednesday Chief Executive Officer Duncan Anderson has resigned as the oilfield industry contractor warned a reassessment of its ships and contracts showed profit would fall this year, kicking its shares 12 percent down.

The Abu Dhabi-based offshore services specialist said a review by new finance chief Stephen Kersley of its large E-class vessels operating in Northwest Europe and the Middle East pointed to 2019 core earnings of between $45 million and $48 million, below $58 million that it reported last year.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that Anderson, who has served as CEO for 12 years, was asked to step down. Anderson could not be reached for comment.

The company, which in the past predominantly operated in the UAE, expanded operations and deployed large vessels in the North Sea and Saudi Arabia nine years ago and listed its shares in London in 2014.

Tensions in the Arabian Gulf, a worrisome global growth outlook and uncertainty over oil prices have recently dampened investor confidence.

The North Sea has seen a revival in production in recent years due to new fields coming on line and improved performance by operators following the 2014 oil price collapse.

Still, the basin’s production is expected to decline over the next decade, according to Britain’s Oil and Gas Authority.

“(The CFO’s) review has coincided with a pause in renewables-related self-propelled self-elevating support vessels activity in the North Sea, which will impact several of the higher day-rate E-Class vessels,” Investec wrote in a note.

Gulf Marine appointed industry veteran Kersley as chief financial officer in late May as it sought to halt a slide which has seen the company’s shares fall nearly 80 percent last year and another 23 percent so far this year.

The company said market conditions remained challenging and that it was still in talks with its financial advisors regarding a new capital structure.

“Management, the new board and the group’s advisors, have been in negotiation with the group’s banks on resetting its capital structure and progress has been made,” it said in a statement.

Last year, Gulf Marine said contracts were delayed into 2019 as the company was seen to be in breach of certain banking covenants at the end of 2018.

The company said it was still in talks with its banks and individual lenders with hopes of getting a waiver or an agreement to amend the concerned covenants.