Oil prices ease for now as Saudi, US offer to boost supplies
17 July 2018
Oil prices eased to levels below $71 a barrel as Saudi Arabia offered to pump more and increase supplies to some customers, while the US weighed plans to dip into emergency stockpile, to offset oil outages around the world.
Benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for August delivery fell as much as 72 cents to $70.29 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on the back of an expected rise in supplies.
Total volume traded was about 28 per cent below the 100-day average. Prices were down $2.79 at $71.01 last week.
North Sea Brent crude for September settlement was down 40 cents at $74.93 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe Exchange, and traded at a $5.72 premium to WTI for the same month. Prices for the global benchmark crude declined 2.3 per cent last week.
Futures for September delivery on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange were up 0.2 per cent at 491.9 yuan a barrel, after falling 0.3 per cent on Friday.
Saudi Arabia offered additional cargoes of its Arab Extra Light crude to at least two Asian buyers, even as the United States weighed plans to release oil from its 660 million-barrel Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in a move aimed at choking off crude exports from Iran.
Russia’s energy minister Alexander Novak is also reported to have said that along with Opec and its partners it could increase production by more than 1 million barrels a day, if needed.
Oil prices also were weighed down by concerns that trade tensions between the US and China will hurt demand.
While oil prices retreated from three-year highs for now, markets expect that erratic supplies due to the spiraling crisis in Venezuela, erratic flows in Libya and renewed US sanctions on Iran could still hurt supplies.
In Libya, crude production at its biggest field is set to drop by about half after authorities shut wells for safety following the armed abduction of workers at the Sharara deposit, according to the National Oil Corp.
The Trump administration is weighing plans to release between 5 million to of 30 million barrels from its oil reserve to cool retail fuel prices ahead of congressional elections in November as Iran sanctions may bite.