Salem Radio Network News Thursday, August 18, 2022

Business

Oil up about $2/bbl as supply outages outweigh recession fears

By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Oil prices rose about $2 a barrel on Friday, recouping most of the previous session’s declines, as supply outages in Libya and expected shutdowns in Norway outweighed expectations that an economic slowdown could dent demand.

Brent crude futures were up $1.81, or 1.7%, at $110.84 a barrel by 11:07 a.m. EDT (1507 GMT), having dropped to $108.03 a barrel earlier in the session.

West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) gained $2.08, or 2%, to $107.84 a barrel, after retreating to $104.56 a barrel earlier.

Both contracts fell around 3% on Thursday, ending the month lower for the first time since November. For the week, Brent was on track for a gain of about 2%, while WTI was set to hold unchanged.

Oil prices pared some gains on Friday after the release of industry data showing U.S manufacturing activity slowed more than expected last month, adding to evidence that the country’s economy was cooling as the Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy.

The Institute for Supply Management said that its index of national factory activity dropped to 53.0 last month, the lowest reading in two years.

Still, low crude and fuel supplies supported the oil market even as equities slumped and the U.S. dollar, which typically has an inverse relationship with crude, rose.

“The ability of the complex to post a strong advance today in the face of significant U.S. dollar strength and a weak equity trade suggests some refocus on tight oil supplies,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates LLC, said in a note.

Libya’s National Oil Corporation on Thursday declared force majeure at the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf ports, as well as the El Feel oilfield. Force majeure is still in effect at the ports of Brega and Zueitina, NOC said.

Production has seen a sharp decline, with daily exports ranging between 365,000 and 409,000 barrels per day, a decrease of 865,000 bpd compared with production in “normal circumstances”, NOC said.

Elsewhere, 74 Norwegian offshore oil workers at Equinor’s Gudrun, Oseberg South and Oseberg East platforms will go on strike from July 5, the Lederne trade union said on Thursday, likely halting about 4% of Norway’s oil production.

Ecuador’s government and indigenous groups’ leaders on Thursday reached an agreement to end more than two weeks of protests which had led to the shut-in of more than half of the country’s pre-crisis 500,000-bpd oil output.

On Thursday, the OPEC+ group of producers, including Russia, agreed to stick to its output strategy after two days of meetings. However, the producer club avoided discussing policy from September onwards.

Previously, OPEC+ decided to increase output each month by 648,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July and August, up from a previous plan to add 432,000 bpd per month.

U.S. President Joe Biden will make a three-stop trip to the Middle East in mid-July that includes a visit to Saudi Arabia, pushing energy policy into the spotlight as the United States and other countries face soaring fuel prices that are driving up inflation.

Biden said on Thursday he would not directly press Saudi Arabia to increase oil output to curb soaring prices when he sees the Saudi king and crown prince during a visit this month.

A Reuters survey found that OPEC pumped 28.52 million bpd in June, down 100,000 bpd from May’s revised total. [OPEC/O]

Oil prices are expected to stay above $100 a barrel this year as Europe and other regions struggle to wean themselves off Russian supply, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday, though economic risks could slow the climb.

India introduced export duties on gas oil, gasoline and jet fuel on Friday to help maintain domestic supplies, while also imposing a windfall tax on oil producers who have benefited from higher global crude oil prices.

(Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar, Stephanie Kelly and Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Marguerita Choy and David Evans)

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