WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Oil trading is reflecting regional security concerns

Brent crude and WTI prices rose to $65.20 and $57.43 per barrel respectively as oil traders were distracted from worries over supply to concerns about security in the Middle East region. (AP)
Updated 23 June 2019

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Oil trading is reflecting regional security concerns

  • Up until this week, Brent had been on a downward trajectory
  • As we move into the last week of June, Iranian oil exports remain at historic lows

RIYADH: It has taken a while but the oil market has finally responded to tensions in the Arabian Gulf. Brent crude and WTI prices rose to $65.20 and $57.43 per barrel respectively as oil traders were distracted from worries over supply to concerns about security.
Up until this week, Brent had been on a downward trajectory with the price unable to break out of the low $60’s since the end of May as the market focused on weaker demand projections, in part linked to escalating trade tensions and the fallout from the US-China trade war.
With the market now focused not only on the threat of military escalation in the Strait of Hormuz but also falling US crude oil and gasoline stockpiles, the bulls are once again on the rampage.
As we move into the last week of June, Iranian oil exports remain at historic lows as Tehran is shunned by global refiners. We are also seeing the resumption of stronger buying appetite as Asian refiners try to secure oil cargoes before the end of the month, after having waited so long to do so in the hope that prices would keep falling after persistent oil short-selling surges amid concerns of slowing oil demand.
Part of the downward movement in oil prices last month was attribute to weak refining margins for Naphtha. However, if oil prices continue to rise, this might end the weakest Naphtha refining margins in years.
Naphtha margins have been negative since early 2018 with Asia awash with light distillate amid plentiful supplies.
The ample supplies of light sweet crude which comes mainly from US shale also contributed to this bearishness as Asian refiners can’t absorb as much of this type of oil as the sour medium to heavy grades from the Arabian Gulf.
The light sweet crude grades are a shorthand for oil that has less than 0.5 percent sulfur content. These light sweet crude grades yield more naphtha and gasoline than medium and heavy sour alternatives.


South Korea seeks arrest of Samsung heir in succession probe

Updated 04 June 2020

South Korea seeks arrest of Samsung heir in succession probe

  • Jay Y. Lee faces a return to jail just a little over two years after being released from detention

SEOUL: South Korean prosecutors have requested an arrest warrant against Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee, they said on Thursday, in the investigation of a controversial 2015 merger and alleged accounting fraud in a suspected bid to aid his succession plans.
The move spells fresh trouble for Lee, who, if arrested, faces a return to jail just a little over two years after being released from detention in February 2018.
Lee already faces trial on a charge of bribery aimed at winning support to succeed ailing group patriarch Lee Kun-hee, and which involved former President Park Geun-hye, and spent a year in detention until the bribery case was suspended in 2018.
Prosecutors said they sought Lee’s arrest on suspicions of stock price manipulation and audit rule violations, among other offenses.
In a statement, Lee’s lawyers expressed “deep regret” at the prosecution’s decision to seek his arrest, adding that he had fully cooperated with the investigation while Samsung was going through management crises.
Prosecutors have been investigating suspected accounting fraud at drug company Samsung Biologics after the Korean financial watchdog complained the firm’s value had been inflated by $3.7 billion in 2015.
Prosecutors contend the violation helped boost the value of its major owner, Cheil Industries, which counted Lee as its top shareholder, and merged with Samsung C&T, a de facto holding firm, Yonhap news agency said.
Samsung requested an outside review of the investigation to weigh the validity of the indictment and the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office is following the necessary procedures, it said in a statement.
Last month, prosecutors questioned Lee, 51, over the latest investigation. He also apologized for a series of controversies around his succession planning.
Lee’s year in detention followed separate charges that he bribed Park to win government support for the 2015 merger which helped tighten his control of South Korea’s top conglomerate.