2018 September 6 15:51

Bunker prices may continue moderate upward trend next week, expert says

The Bunker Review is contributed by Marine Bunker Exchange
World oil indexes have climbed 10 percent in the past two weeks but turned into slight down-ward trend yesterday. The global oil market is now two months away from seeing substantial supply losses from Iran due to sanctions. Indeed, the declines are already underway, raising concerns about market tightness.

MABUX World Bunker Index (consists of a range of prices for 380 HSFO, 180 HSFO and MGO at the main world hubs), changed insignificant and irregular in the period of Aug.30 – Sep.06:
380 HSFO - down from 443.07 to 439.29 USD/MT (-3.78)
180 HSFO - down from 492.57 to 487.43 USD/MT (-5.14)
MGO        - up from 699.36 to 709.29 USD/MT     (+9.93)

OPEC oil output has risen last month to a 2018 high as Libyan production recovered and Iraq's southern exports hit a record. Cartel has pumped 32.79 million barrels per day in August, up 220,000 bpd from July's revised level and the highest this year. Even so, OPEC's adherence with supply targets has actually risen to 120 percent in August from a revised 117 percent in July, because extra barrels from Saudi and others did not fully offset losses in Iran and declining output in Venezuela and Angola.  

The biggest increase in supplies last month has come from Libya, whose output remains volatile due to unrest. Production at the Sharara oilfield, the country's largest, increased after the restart of a control station that had been closed due to the kidnapping of two workers, and other fields also pumped more.  The second-largest increase came from Iraq, where southern exports reached a record high. Shipments also increased from the north, leaving Iraq as OPEC's least compliant member in August.

Among countries with lower output, the biggest drop of 150,000 bpd was in Iran. Exports fell as returning U.S. sanctions discouraged companies from buying the country's oil. Production also slipped in Venezuela, where the oil industry is starved of funds because of economic crisis, and in Angola due to natural decline at oilfields.

Meantime, OPEC and non-OPEC countries are considering ways to formalize their cooperation later this year, eyeing a charter that would extend their coordination on stabilizing the oil market. Under the charter, ministers would meet once a year and technical experts would meet twice a year. The coalition would meet in Vienna and would be hosted by OPEC, but would remain a separate entity.

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw from the World Trade Organization – another step in a deepening dispute between the United States and its major trading partners. Such a move would undermine one of the foundations of the global trading system, which the United States was instrumental in creating. Markets are worried that rising trade barriers between the world’s major economies will drag on global growth and, by extension, erode energy demand.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said last week that Iran has continued to comply with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, despite the withdrawal of the U.S. from the accord. The IAEA said Iran was honouring its commitments to the deal – specifically, to limit stockpiles of nuclear materials and to grant access to IAEA inspectors. There were no areas in which Iran breached the deal.

Nevertheless, U.S. sanctions on Iran's energy sector will come into force on Nov. 4, although the country's crude oil and condensate exports are already expected to have fallen to a 16-month low in August. The United States wants to force buyers of Iranian oil to cut their imports from OPEC's third-largest producer to nothing, after an international nuclear deal between the two nations was dissolved. There is a concern that Asian importers' demand for crude oil declines.

Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA has said that it signed a US$430 million joint service agreement with seven companies that would help it increase its crude oil production by 641,000 bar-els per day. This is not the first time that Venezuela has claimed it has plans to boost its production. Meantime, Venezuela’s oil production in July dropped to below the 1.3-million-bpd mark—at 1.278 million bpd, plunging 47,700 bpd from June. This compares with an average of 2.154 million bpd in 2016, and an average of 1.911 million bpd in 2017. Besides, a Greek-flagged ship carrying naphtha collided last week with the terminal run by PDVSA, which could reduce capacity of the terminal by up to 425,000 bpd in September.

The Trump administration is considering moving forward with the proposed $200 billion in tariffs on China when the public comment period ended on September 6. The move would be a significant escalation of the trade war and present a serious downside risk to the global economy and to China’s oil demand. Retaliatory tariffs would be expected, with U.S. exports of crude oil and LNG likely on the target list.

Despite reports last week that suggested that U.S. oil production fell in June, the EIA said that output rose by 231,000 bpd in June compared to a month earlier. Production stood at 10.674 million barrels per day, dispelling fears that U.S. shale output was grinding to a halt because of pipeline problems. It was also reported a 4-rig increase to the number of active oil and gas rigs (2+2) in the United States last week. The oil and gas rig count is now 105 up from this time last year.

It has been estimated that the new IMO rules will apply to 3.5 million barrels per day of high-sulfur fuel oil, although post combustion gas scrubbers may allow some vessels to continue using the high-sulfur fuel. Most marine vessels will have to switch to cleaner distillate fuels like low-sulfur diesel, which will increase demand significantly. Besides, the new regulations will increase the cost to produce marine fuel, and it will again put upward pressure on the price of sweet crudes and downward pressure on sour crudes. It is also possible that there will be insufficient supplies when the new specifications come into effect, and that diesel prices are set to rise.

We expect bunker prices will continue moderate upward trend next week.







All prices stated in USD / Mton
All time high Brent = $147.50 (July 11, 2008)
All time high Light crude (WTI) = $147.27 (July 11, 2008)