US oil set for biggest monthly loss in over a year as floods hit demand

Above, the swelling waters of the Buffalo Bayou threaten the Valero Houston Refinery after Hurricane Harvey inundated the Texas Gulf coast with rain. (Reuters)
Updated 31 August 2017

US oil set for biggest monthly loss in over a year as floods hit demand

AMSTERDAM: US crude oil prices are on track to post the steepest monthly losses in more than a year on Thursday as concerns spread over falling demand in the world’s top oil-consuming country after storm Harvey knocked out almost a quarter of its refineries.
But prices rallied in the oil products markets, with US gasoline futures RBc1 hitting a two-year high above $2 a gallon, buoyed by fears of a fuel shortage just days ahead of the Labor Day weekend that typically sees a surge in driving.
Harvey, which brought record flooding to the US oil heartland of Texas and killed at least 35 people, has paralyzed at least 4.4 million barrels per day (bpd) of refining capacity, according to company reports and Reuters estimates.
The country’s biggest fuel transport system, the Colonial Pipeline, also said it would shut its main diesel, jet fuel and gasoline lines because of outages at its supply points.
Traders from Europe to Asia were scrambling to fix fuel cargoes to the US, with price reporting agency Argus registering a record monthly trade volume of European gasoline barges.
Analysts at Goldman Sachs and Stifel said infrastructure outages could last several months, although it was difficult to estimate the exact damage.


IMF experts visit Lebanon amid worsening economic crisis

Updated 20 February 2020

IMF experts visit Lebanon amid worsening economic crisis

  • IMF team will provide broad technical advice
  • Lebanon has not requested IMF financial assistance

BEIRUT: A team of IMF experts met Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Thursday at the start of a visit to provide Lebanon with advice on tackling a deepening financial and economic crisis, an official Lebanese source said.

The IMF has said the team will visit until Feb. 23 and provide broad technical advice. Lebanon has not requested financial assistance from the Fund.

The long-brewing economic crisis spiraled last year as capital flows into the country slowed and protests erupted against the ruling elite over decades of corruption and bad governance.

Diab’s government, which took office last month, must decide what to do about upcoming debt payments, notably a $1.2 billion dollar-denominated sovereign bond due on March 9.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun meanwhile said on Thursday measures would be taken to hold to account all those who contributed to Lebanon’s financial crisis through illegal actions be they transfers abroad, manipulation of Eurobonds or other acts.

“There is information that we are still in need of with regards to the banking situation. There are measures that we will take to hold to account all who participated in bringing the crisis to where it is,” Aoun said, according to his Twitter account.

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One of Lebanon’s most influential politicians, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, said on Wednesday that debt restructuring was the best solution for looming maturities.

Lebanon will on Friday review proposals from firms bidding to give it financial and legal advice on its options, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The government aims to take a quick decision on who to appoint, the source said.

So far, firms bidding to be Lebanon’s legal adviser are Dechert, Cleary Gottlieb, and White and Case, the source said.

Lebanon has issued requests for proposals to seven firms to provide it with financial advice.

The government on Wednesday formed a committee tasked with preparing an economic recovery plan that includes ministers, government officials, a central bank representative and economists, according to a copy of a decree seen by Reuters.