Oil prices fell to their lowest level in two weeks

Recap: Oil prices took a hit for the third straight session after President Trump announced the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the U.S; which dragged down global equities. A rising U.S. dollar also added pressure. Prices fell to their lowest level in two weeks, with April WTI reaching a low of $60.18 a barrel before paring losses for a settlement at $60.99, down 65 cents, or 1.05%. May Brent lost 90 cents, or 1.39%, to settle at $63.83 a barrel.

March gasoline lost 1.5% to $1.896 a gallon, while April heating oil fell 1% at $1.886 a gallon.

Fundamental News: The US’ role in the global oil market changed in 2017, with shale producers pumping more crude and thus reducing the country’s reliance on some of its traditional sources of oil.  At the same time, exports of crude, gasoline and other refined fuels increased higher than ever before.  The US bypassed Saudi Arabia late last year and is on the heels of Russia to be the world’s largest oil producer.  The US produced 10.057 million bpd in November.  US frackers increased their production as prices increased towards $60/barrel late in the year, drawing more drillers to the market. 

A US official said the Trump administration is considering sanctioning a Venezuelan military-run oil services company and restricting insurance coverage for Venezuelan oil shipments to increase pressure on President Nicolas Maduro.  The official said that with President Maduro running for another term in an April election that Washington and its allies oppose as a sham, the US is considering sanctions that would target Venezuela’s oil sector beyond what has been done before.  He did not rule out an eventual full-scale ban on Venezuelan oil shipments to the US. 

US President, Donald Trump, is scheduled to gather with officials from the oil and corn industries for the second time this week as the administration seeks common ground on reforms to the country’s controversial biofuels law.  A meeting earlier this week, ended with Iowa Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst calling the White House efforts to help refiners cope with the regulation a threat to farmers and vowing to fight proposed changes.

Iraq’s Oil Ministry reported that the country’s oil exports from its southern ports on the Gulf fell to 3.426 million bpd in February.  Its exports generated $5.7 billion at a price of $60.137/barrel.  No sales were made from the Kirkuk oilfields in the north.

Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak, said the rebalancing of the global oil market is going well.  He also stated that Russia was in full compliance with its obligations under a global deal to cut oil production in February.  He said Russia cut its output by 300,400 bpd last month. 

Kazakhstan’s oil output increased by 52,000 bpd on the month to 1.909 million bpd in February. 

Libya’s crude output is currently at 1.1 million bpd.  Lost output from closing the El-Feel oil field was offset by gains at Sharara and Waha. 

Ineos, operator of the Forties Pipeline System, said that loading of Forties crude at the Hound Point terminal was temporarily postponed due to adverse weather conditions.  It said the pipeline is operating normally.  On Wednesday, pilots were unable to reach tankers as they arrived to bring them alongside to load oil.

Early Market Call – as of 9:00 AM EDT

WTI – Apr $60.81, down 18 cents

RBOB – Apr $1.8739, down 2.24 cents

HO – Apr $1.8594, down 2.65 cents

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