Qatar shunned: Oil falls 1% on fears Middle East rift could harm OPEC cuts
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain closed transport links with top liquefied natural gas (LNG) and condensate shipper Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism and undermining regional stability.Updated: Jun 05, 2017 21:20 IST
Oil prices fell about 1% on Monday on concerns that the cutting of ties with Qatar by top crude exporter Saudi Arabia and other Arab states could hamper a global deal to reduce oil production.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain closed transport links with top liquefied natural gas (LNG) and condensate shipper Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism and undermining regional stability.
The news initially pushed Brent crude prices up as much as 1% as geopolitical fears rippled through the market. But Brent later reversed gains, trading down 58 cents, or 1.12% at $49.37 a barrel by 10:42am EDT (1442 GMT).
US West Texas Intermediate futures were at $47.15 a barrel, down 51 cents, or 1.1%.
With production capacity of about 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), Qatar’s crude output ranks as one of OPEC’s smallest, but tension within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries could weaken the supply deal, aimed at supporting prices.
“While we would not want to read too much into this in terms of looming trouble for OPEC, the fact that Qatar’s stance towards Iran is a key element in this issue does make for a potentially more complicated setup at future meetings should the issue not have been resolved in due time,” JBC Energy analysts said in a note.
There are already doubts that the effort to curb production by almost 1.8 million bpd is seriously denting crude exports.
While there was a dip in OPEC supplies between February and April, a report on Monday by Thomson Reuters Oil Research said OPEC shipments likely jumped to 25.18 million bpd in May, up over 1 million bpd from April.
Brent futures have fallen more than 8% from their open on May 25, when OPEC opted to extend production cuts into 2018.
Outside of OPEC, South Sudan will drill 30 new wells this year and significantly boost oil output as it chases a peak 350,000 bpd target by mid-2018, the petroleum minister said on Monday.
Crude output in the United States, which is not participating in the supply cuts, has jumped more than 10% since mid-2016 to 9.34 million bpd, close to levels of top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia.
The rise in US production has been driven by a record 20th straight weekly climb in oil drilling, with the rig count climbing by 11 in the week to June 2, to 733, the most since April 2015.
US crude stockpiles, however, have consistently fallen for eight straight weeks, which had prompted some to suggest that the long-awaited effects from OPEC efforts to reduce world supply were materialising.
“We believe that US inventories will continue falling this summer, allowing OPEC to point to lower stocks as a positive measure of success,” Sandy Fielden, director of oil and products research at Morningstar said in a note.
“But if, as we have already seen, higher refinery runs and/or crude exports are the causes of these inventory drawdowns, then the impact on OPEC’s balancing act is actually negative.”