Crude Oil Approaching 7-Month High

Posted October 19, 2017

Despite prices dipping after reports of Iraqi forces taking control of previously Kurdish-held oil fields, Brent crude futures were still at $57.70 at 0646 GMT, 2.7 percent higher than last Friday's settlement and nearly a third above mid-year levels. If prices remain high the outlook may be positive for breakbulk operators serving the oil sector as the higher price point supports renewed investment in offshore development.

While Iraq's government is clashing with Kurdish forces in the north of the OPEC nation, raising the prospect of output disruptions in the region, both sides have an incentive to keep oil flowing due to low production costs and "high revenue" available per barrel, according to Goldman Sachs.

With ongoing supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) further tightening the market, analysts were revising upward their crude price forecasts for the rest of the year and into 2018. Its quota under the deal is 3.797m barrels a day, but during the third quarter, it has pumped an average of 3.828m b/d.

During the previous round of sanctions against Iran, some 1 million bpd of oil was cut from global markets.

With Iraqi forces taking back the control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk from Kurdish control there is fear that a new showdown in the region is imminent. Oil prices have climbed following API inventory data, which revealed a 7.1 million barrel decline in USA crude inventories, versus expectations for a 4 million barrel draw. U.S. President Donald Trump on October 13 refused to certify Iran's compliance over a nuclear deal, leaving Congress 60 days to decide on further action against Tehran.

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The ramp-up in imports comes as US oil prices have dropped against Brent and Dubai DUB-1M-A, the benchmarks for Atlantic Basin and Middle East crude, making American oil attractive for Korean refiners.

During the previous round of sanctions against Iran, about 1 million bbl/dd of oil was cut from global markets. "Collectively, OPEC countries lost more than $1 trillion".

The price of crude oil is seeing a steady decline. It may take time to break above; meanwhile, crude oil prices could travel between $50 to $52.30 levels.

Investors and analysts will be looking ahead to weekly inventory data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, expected Wednesday afternoon.

Australian shares .axjo extended their winning streak to a fourth straight session to rise 0.6 percent, while Japan's Nikkei .n225 rallied for a sixth day to the highest since November 1996.