Oil prices rise amid risk of supply disruptions

The main market driver in oil has been the US, where crude production has soared by almost a quarter since mid-2016 to 10.53 million barrels per day, largely thanks to a booming shale industry. (Reuters)
Updated 17 April 2018

Oil prices rise amid risk of supply disruptions

  • The main market driver in oil has been the US, where crude production has soared by almost a quarter since mid-2016 to 10.53 million barrels per day

SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose on Tuesday amid worries there could be a high risk of disruptions to supply, especially in the Middle East.
Brent crude oil futures were at $71.69 per barrel at 0326 GMT, up 27 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 32 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $66.54 a barrel.
Traders said oil markets were receiving general support due to a sense that there were high risks of supply disruptions, including a potentially spreading conflict in the Middle East, renewed US sanctions against Iran and falling output as a result of political and economic crisis in Venezuela.
“With so many potential supply disruptors in play and few signs that the current market upheaval will end any time soon, traders continue to pay the geopolitical risk premium,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore.
“Oil prices should remain bid ... at least through the Iran nuclear deal deadline (May 12) if not for the remainder of 2018,” he added.
Oil markets have generally been well supported this year, with Brent up by around 16 percent from its 2018-low in February, due to healthy demand which comes as the producer cartel of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) leads supply cuts aimed at tightening the market and propping up prices.
Beyond OPEC’s production restraint and concerns about supply disruptions, the main market driver in oil has been the US, where crude production has soared by almost a quarter since mid-2016 to 10.53 million barrels per day (bpd), largely thanks to a booming shale industry.
Only Russia pumps out more oil currently at almost 11 million bpd.
“US shale producers have been quietly capitalizing on higher oil prices with increasing rig counts seen. A staggering amount of 73 rotary rigs have been placed since January 2018,” said Benjamin Lu of Phillip Futures in a note on Tuesday.
“As such, we expect a softening in crude oil prices as markets adjust from a bullish streak,” he added.
The American Petroleum Institute is due to publish weekly US fuel inventory data later on Tuesday while official government data, including on production, is due from the US Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.


Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

Updated 23 min 6 sec ago

Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

  • The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament approved on Thursday a law to remove decades-old banking secrecy rules in order to better fight rampant corruption that has pushed the country to the edge of economic collapse.
The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers, legislators and civil servants, state-run National News Agency reported.
The restoration of stolen public money in the corruption-plagued nation has been a key demand of protesters who have been demonstrating since mid-October against Lebanon’s ruling elite, which they blame for widespread corruption and mismanagement.
The approval of the law came two months after the Cabinet approved a draft resolution to abolish the country’s banking secrecy laws, which have turned tiny Lebanon into the region’s Switzerland, attracting clients from around the Arab world who prized the anonymity its banks offered.
The new law gives powers to National Anti-corruption Commission and a Special Investigative Committee at the central bank to investigate bank account of officials, the report said.
For Thursday’s session, Lebanese lawmakers convened inside a Beirut theater so that they could observe social distancing measures imposed during the pandemic. Dozens of anti-government demonstrators briefly clashed with riot police outside as legislators met.
As lawmakers in face masks arrived at the theater, known as the UNESCO palace, paramedics sprayed them with disinfectant before they entered, one at a time.
Lebanon has been facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with unemployment figures soaring and the local currency losing more than half of its value against the dollar.
After the banking secrecy measure was passed, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri suspended the session until later in the afternoon when the legislators were to discuss a draft general amnesty law.
The amnesty issue has deeply divided parliamentary blocs, with Christian groups calling for pardoning Lebanese who fled to Israel after it ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, while former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and others want the release of hundreds of Islamists held as terror suspects.
Lebanon and Israel are at a state of war and some Lebanese who fled to Israel now hold Israeli citizenship. Scores of protesters demonstrated in Beirut and southern Lebanon on Thursday against pardoning those living in Israel.