Oil prices inch up in face of tight market

09 July, 2018, 14:41 | Author: Eric Barnett
  • Strait of Singapore

Beijing has threatened a 25 percent tariff on USA crude imports, although it has not specified an introduction date.

At 0531 GMT, August WTI crude oil is trading $74.13, up $0.33 or 0.45% and September Brent crude oil is at $77.39, up $0.28 or +0.36%.

US crude CLc1 slipped 2 cents to $72.92. -China tit-for-tat on trade.

Shares of top oil marketing companies led the gains on NSE index, as US-China trade war fears weighed on oil prices. "U.S. sellers would have to find alternative buyers".

John Driscoll, director of consultancy JTD Energy, suggested that China may even replace American oil with crude from Iran: "They [Chinese importers] are not going to be intimidated or swayed by US sanctions". He also said that he is thinking of slapping additional duties on $500 billion in Chinese goods if Beijing retaliates.

Import duties would make US oil uncompetitive in China, forcing its refiners to seek alternative supplies in a tight market.

While no date has been set, industry participants expect the tariff to be levied.

"The Chinese have to do the tit-for-tat, they have to retaliate", said John Driscoll, director of consultancy JTD Energy, adding that cutting USA crude imports was a means "of retaliating (against) the U.S.in a very substantial way".


An executive from China's Dongming Petrochemical Group said he expected Beijing to soon impose the tariff on USA oil imports.

"We expect the Chinese government to impose tariffs on (U.S.) crude", the executive said, declining to be named as he was not authorised to speak to media.

He added that his refinery had canceled USA crude imports and would switch to Middle East or West African supplies instead. That could lure India to take more US crude, Fielden said.

"Shale crude is not an alternative to Iranian crude", Fielden said.

In Japan, Asia's third-biggest importer of crude, the oil industry has yet to react publicly to Friday's news.

But for a crude market focused mainly on short-term impacts, analysts see nothing but gloom around the corner: in discussing the possibility of China placing a tariff on US oil, Commerzbank said in a note that "Chinese demand would then shift to other suppliers, [and] because the oil market is already in tight supply due to the numerous outages, this would drive global prices (Brent) further up".

The minority analytical view sees plenty of opportunity in the current turmoil.

Looming larger over markets is the U.S./China trade dispute.

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