Brent oil near 2-year highs as OPEC's compliance with cuts improves

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Brent oil near 2-year highs as OPEC's compliance with cuts improves
Released:  01/11/20172017-11-01
Word count:  376

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Brent crude oil prices were near two-year highs on Wednesday as OPEC has significantly improved compliance with its pledged supply cuts and Russia is also seen keeping to the deal.

Reuters
Brent futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $61.16 per barrel at 0045 GMT, up 22 cents, or 0.36 percent, since their last close and near the $61.41 a barrel two-year high from intraday trading on Tuesday. Brent is up almost 38 percent since its 2017-lows last June.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was at $54.65 a barrel, up 27 cents, or 0.5 percent, and close to February highs. It is up almost 30 percent since 2017-lows in June.

Bullish sentiment has been fuelled by an effort this year lead by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia to hold back about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in oil production to tighten markets.

While compliance was low during the first half of the year, supplies have been reduced significantly since.

OPEC’s October output fell by 80,000 bpd to 32.78 million bpd, putting adherence to its pledged supply curbs at 92 percent, up from September’s 86 percent.

Russia is also seen to be in compliance with cutting its output by around 300,000 bpd below October 2016 levels of 11.247 million bpd.

Trade data shows that global oil markets have been slightly undersupplied during the past quarters, resulting in fuel inventory drawdowns.

Factoring in supply disruptions in Iraq due to fighting and the United States as a result of hurricanes, the market looks slightly undersupplied going into next year, traders said.

What is unclear is how OPEC, Russia and the other countries involved in withholding production will exit the supply-cutting deal.

The pact runs to March 2018, and Saudi Arabia and Russia support extending the agreement to potentially cover all of next year.

Should participants after that return to full capacity and U.S. output also grow further, a supply glut could quickly return. “We could rapidly ... go from a predicted deficit of around 260,000 barrels to a surplus of close to 1.5 million barrels. Prices would undoubtedly collapse as a consequence,” said Matt Stanley, a fuel broker at Freight Investor Services. Another key factor will be U.S. output, which has risen by almost 13 percent since mid-2016 to around 9.5 million bpd. C-OUT-T-EIA

“U.S. crude oil production is 410,000 bpd below the April 2015 peak of 9.62 million bpd. We expect production to surpass this level before year-end,” Barclays bank said.

Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Joseph Radford
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Released:  17/11/20172017-11-17
Word count:  405

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices were steady on Friday but on track for the first weekly fall in six weeks, under pressure from surging U.S. supplies and creeping doubts over Russian support for continuing a cut in crude output.

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Reuters
Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $61.23 per barrel at 0746 GMT, down 3 cents from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $55.36 a barrel, up 22 cents. Traders said strong U.S. crude exports were lifting WTI.

Still, crude was set to fall around 2-4 percent for the week on worries about growth in U.S. production and inventories, after both benchmarks touched 2015 highs last week.

“Russian support for a formalized extension of production cuts at the Nov. 30 OPEC meeting appears questionable, even if only to defer the decision to 1Q18,” U.S. investment bank Jefferies said.

Crude markets have received general support in the past months by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which together with some non-OPEC producers including Russia has been withholding production since January to tighten the market and prop up prices. This has led to an almost 40-percent rise in Brent prices since June.

“The production cut agreement between some OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers led to a drop in inventories and to a recovery of oil prices,” said Dutch bank ABN Amro.

“In the course of 2018 we expect a continuation of the oil price rally towards $75 per barrel,” ABN said.

The deal to restrain output is due to expire in March 2018, but OPEC will meet on Nov. 30 to discuss policy.

Analysts said more production restraint is needed to reduce the supply overhang. “The problem is still that oil stockpiles are above the five-year average,” said William O‘Loughlin, investment analyst at Australia’s Rivkin Securities.

Khalid al-Falih, the energy minister of Saudi Arabia, which is OPEC’s de-facto leader, said on Thursday that “we need to recognize that by the end of March we’re not going to be at the level we want to be which is the five-year average, that means an extension of some sort.”

OPEC’s main obstacle in tightening the market is the United States, where crude oil production C-OUT-T-EIA hit a record of 9.65 million barrels per day (bpd) this month, meaning output has risen by almost 15 percent since their most recent low in mid-2016.

“Let’s assume that U.S. oil production continues its upward trajectory. They could very well be at 10 million bpd by the end of 2017,” said Matt Stanley, a fuel broker at Freight Investor Services (FIS) in Dubai.

Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Joseph Radford and Richard Pullin
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Released:  17/11/20172017-11-17
Word count:  314

A heavy downpour of rainfall yesterday in the Greater Tripolitania region has added nearly 6 million cubic meters to the Wadi Mjenin water dam, the General Authority for Water Resources (GAWR) has reported.

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Libya herald
The deluge added to the 1,143 million cubic meters of rainwater already held by the dam giving a total water content of 6,900 million cubic meters GAWR said. The dam can hold a maximum of 10 million cubic meters annually and had been designed to hold as much as 58 million cubic meters of rain water.

Four main seasonal streams feed the Mjenin Wadi which in turn are fed by a number of other tributaries. Mjenin passes through Tripoli by Suk Il Thlat and into the Mediterranean at the beginning of the Gergarish road.

Water from the heavy rainfall has already made its way to Tripoli blocking the road in the Salah Al-Deen area where there is no bridge over the Wadi.

The Wadi Mjenin Dam is described technically as an embankment dam and is located on the Wadi Mejenin itself. It is located 64 km (40 miles) south of Tripoli in the Jabal al Gharbi / Nefua Mountain district of Libya.

The dam was completed in 1972 during the Qaddafi era and the primary purpose of the dam is water supply for irrigation and flood control. It is also believed to replenish the underground water aquifers that supply the region’s borehole wells used widely by farms and household for their main water supply.

The lack of waterfall in recent decades and increased use (some would say misuse) of water has led to the water table dropping by a hundred to two hundred meters in some Greater Tripolitania areas. This vacuum had led to the water table being filled by salty sea water and turning many borehole wells saline.

The average rainfall in Libya is 251 mm (9.9 inches) per year or 20.9 mm / month, with a variation between the Jabal Al-Akhdar (Green Mountains) of northern Cyrenaica and the Fezzan region and the Sahara Desert in the south. This compares to an average of 885 mm or 33.7 inches of rainfall per year in the UK.
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Released:  16/11/20172017-11-16
Word count:  302

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil markets were stable on Thursday as rising U.S. crude production and inventories were countered by expectations that OPEC will extend an ongoing production cut during a meeting at the end of this month.

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Reuters
Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $61.98 per barrel at 0438 GMT, 11 cents above their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $55.37 a barrel, 4 cents up from their last settlement. “Oil shrugged off an unexpected rise in the U.S. crude inventory data...Both contracts eked out small gains,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore.

Despite these slight gains, Brent and WTI have lost around 4 percent in value since hitting 2015 highs last week, pulled down in part by rising crude availability in the United States.

U.S. crude inventories C-STK-T-EIA rose for a second week in a row, building by 1.9 million barrels in the week to Nov. 10 to 459 million barrels, the government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

That compared to analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a decrease of 2.2 million barrels.

U.S. crude oil production C-OUT-T-EIA hit a record of 9.65 million barrels per day (bpd), meaning output has risen by almost 15 percent since their most recent low in mid-2016. (tmsnrt.rs/2yLlKWC)

Despite this, analysts said prices were relatively well supported due to efforts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to withhold oil production in order to tighten the market and prop up prices.

The deal is due to expire in March 2018, but OPEC will meet on Nov. 30 to discuss policy, and it is expected to agree an extension of the cuts.

"OPEC, led by Saudi ... will look to support the market, especially until the sale of Aramco is complete. If sanctions against Iran are executed, it will drive the price significantly higher," said Shane Chanel, equities and derivatives adviser at ASR Wealth Advisers in Sydney. (tmsnrt.rs/2iX0PJF)

Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Joseph Radford
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British diplomats, headed by Ambassador Peter Millett, were back at the historic British consulate in Tripoli Old City to host a reception for Libyan students who have been awarded Chevening scholarships to undertake postgraduate study in Britain.

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Libya herald
The building, just behind the Gurgi Mosque by the Marcus Aurelius Arch and formally now known as the Nweji Cultural House, served as the British consulate from 1744 until 1940 when Italy came out in support of Nazi Germany, declared war on the UK and expelled British diplomats.

Monday’s reception, the first hosted by the British since the embassy returned to the capital, honoured students who have been awarded the scholarship between 2014 and 2016 as well as the 11 Libyans have been awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarships to study in the UK this year.

“Chevening scholarships are a vital way for Libyans to study in the United Kingdom and return to Libya with new skills and experiences that will help to promote economic reform to the benefit of all Libyans, Millett said at the reception, at which the new 11 Libyan scholars were presented certificates to mark their award.

Applicants who applied for the next academic year will be shortlisted in for interviews by the British embassy between January and early February. The results will be announced next June.

Applications for the award in order to study in the UK in 2019/202 will open in August 2018.
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Released:  15/11/20172017-11-15
Word count:  403

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices fell more than 1 percent on Wednesday, continuing Tuesday’s slide after the International Energy Agency cast doubts over the past few months’ narrative of tightening fuel markets.

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Reuters
Brent crude futures LCOc1 were at $61.33 per barrel at 0515 GMT, down 88 cents, or 1.4 percent from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was at $55 per barrel, down 70 cents, or 1.3 percent. The price falls mean that crude prices are now down by around 5 percent since hitting 2015 highs last week, ending a 40-percent rally between June and early November.

“Crude prices dropped dramatically after the IEA forecast a gloomy outlook for the near future ... The drop was arguably exacerbated by a global selloff in other commodities,” said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Tuesday cut its oil demand growth forecast by 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) for this year and next, to an estimated 1.5 million bpd in 2017 and 1.3 million bpd in 2018.

“The oil market faces a difficult challenge in 1Q18 with supply expected to exceed demand by 600,000 bpd followed by another, smaller, surplus of 200,000 bpd in 2Q18,” the agency said.

The demand slowdown could mean world oil consumption may not, as many expect, breach 100 million bpd next year, while supplies are likely to exceed that level.(reut.rs/2zCLx75)

The IEA report countered the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which just a day earlier said 2018 would see a strong rise in oil demand.

Vijayakar said a reported increase in U.S. crude inventories was also weighing on prices.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) said on Tuesday that U.S. crude inventories rose by 6.5 million barrels in the week to Nov. 10 to 461.8 million.

U.S. government inventory data is due later on Wednesday.

On the supply side, rising U.S. output also pressured prices.

U.S. oil production C-OUT-T-EIA has already increased by more than 14 percent since mid-2016 to 9.62 million bpd and is expected to grow further.

The IEA said non-OPEC production will add 1.4 million bpd of additional production in 2018.

The IEA’s outlook pressures OPEC to keep restraining output in order to defend crude prices, which its members rely on for revenue.

OPEC and some non-OPEC producers including Russia have been withholding production this year to end years of oversupply.

The deal expires in March 2018 but OPEC will meet on Nov. 30 to discuss policy, and it is expected to agree an extension of the cuts.

“Anything less than a full nine-month extension delivered at the Nov. 30 meeting could precipitate a sell-off,” U.S. bank Citi said.

Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Joseph Radford
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Released:  15/11/20172017-11-15
Word count:  137

The new Libyan mobile phone payment system soon to be launched by Sadad and Almadar mobile phone company has released more information for subscribers.

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Libya herald
Subscription to the service will be for Almadar mobile customers and Libyan nationals. It will be free for the first three months followed by a one-off LD 10 annual subscription charge. There will be no charge to individual customers on purchases. Sadad has referred enquiries on its services to its customer service line: 1216.

Subscribers are encouraged to book an appointment by SMS on #666 to fill-in the online form and then take their Libyan passport and National ID number to the Sadad Service Centre in 24 December Street (former 1st September Street).

The new mobile payment system will only operate domestically in the short term and Sadad said that all its transactions are Sharia compliant as they have been approved by the CBL’s Sharia Committee. At the time of writing the Sadad website was still not working.
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Released:  14/11/20172017-11-14
Word count:  135

The Media Department of Zintan airport has reported that progress in the expansion of the city’s airport has been proceeding well despite the prevailing high prices and the difficulty in obtaining state funds for the project.

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Libya Herald
The Media Department said that completion rates for the various sections of the project have ranged from 5 to 100 percent with over half of the 16 different subprojects at a 70 percent or above completion rate.

Zintan airport has regular flights to Tobruk airport in eastern Libya but no flights to Tripoli’s Mitiga’s airport on account of its political affiliation to the House of Representatives.

The airport proved of great strategic importance during the anti-Qaddafi 2011 revolution enabling the Western / Nefusa mountain area to receive supplies to maintain a base and a front against the Qaddafi regime.

Post the Qaddafi era, there has been an inclination to encourage the reopening of many regional airports, some of which had been exclusively military airports, in order to give regional municipalities more independence and control over their transport and logistics.
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Released:  14/11/20172017-11-14
Word count:  430

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Tuesday as the prospect of further rises in U.S. output undermined ongoing OPEC-led production cuts aimed at tightening the market.

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Reuters
Brent crude futures LCOc1 were at $62.94 per barrel at 0415 GMT, down 22 cents, or 0.35 percent, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was at $56.62 per barrel, down 14 cents, or 0.25 percent.

The falls came after both crude benchmarks early last week hit highs last seen in 2015, but traders said the market had lost some momentum since then.

Traders said they were cautious on betting on further price rises.

“Prices...are starting to look like a pause or pullback is needed,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.

(For a graphic on 'Losing momentum? Brent crude oil prices,' click reut.rs/2zAkkSo)

This sentiment comes in part on the back of rising U.S. oil output C-OUT-T-EIA, which has grown by more than 14 percent since mid-2016 to a record 9.62 million barrels per day (bpd).

The U.S. government said on Monday U.S. shale production for December would rise for a 12th consecutive month, increasing by 80,000 bpd.

Fitch Ratings said in its 2018 oil outlook that it assumed 2018 “average oil prices will be broadly unchanged year-on-year and that the recent price recovery with Brent exceeding $60 per barrel may not be sustained”. So far in 2017, Brent has averaged at $54.5 per barrel.

Despite the cautious sentiment, traders said oil prices would unlikely fall very far, largely due to ongoing supply restrictions led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia, which have contributed to a reduction in excess supplies.

OPEC also raised its oil demand forecast, saying the world would need 33.42 million barrels per day (bpd) of OPEC crude next year, up 360,000 bpd from its previous forecast and marking the fourth consecutive monthly increase in the outlook since July.

In China, refiners raised crude oil processing runs to near record monthly levels in October, with operations increasing by 7.4 percent to 50.51 million tonnes, or 11.89 million bpd, China’s statistics bureau said on Tuesday.

OPEC is due to meet on Nov. 30 to discuss further output policy. The group is expected to agree an extension of the cuts beyond their current expiry date in March 2018.

Looking further out, the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday there will be 50 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road by 2025 and 300 million by 2040, from around 2 million now. This is expected to cut 2.5 million bpd, or about 2 percent, off global oil demand by that time.

Still, the IEA’s “New Policies Scenario”, based on existing legislation and policy intentions, expects oil prices to rise towards $83 a barrel by the mid-2020s.

Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Joseph Radford and Kenneth Maxwell
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Released:  13/11/20172017-11-13
Word count:  176

Presidency Council (PC) head Faiez Seraj spent the first full day of his visit to Oman, in talks with the Omani government about promoting cooperation in a number of fields, and then with Omani businessmen whom he encouraged to invest in Libya.

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Libya herald
He was welcomed on behalf of Sultan Qaboos by Sayyid Fahd Bin Mahmoud Al-Said, the deputy prime minister (in effect the premier, the sultan being the official prime minister and who has been in the post for the past 47 years), who said that the sultanate fully backed all efforts to maintain Libyan unity. He praised those by the PC and its government of national accord which, he claimed, enjoyed the confidence of the Libyan people.

For his part Serraj, who is accompanied on the official visit by his wife, expressed thanks to Oman for supporting Libya, in particular for hosting the Constitution Drafting Assembly last year.

A number of regional and international issues were discussed, but the talks focussed strongly on possible economic and investment cooperation between the two countries – reflected in the presence at them of Oman’s ministers of commerce and industry and of agriculture and fisheries. The Omanis were keen to offer Libya their expertise in infrastructure and services.

This was then taken up in talks with leaders of the Omani business community.
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Released:  13/11/20172017-11-13
Word count:  374

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil trading was cautious on Monday amid ongoing tensions in the Middle East and after a rising rig count in the United States suggested producers there are preparing to increase output.

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Reuters
Brent crude futures LCOc1 were at $63.58 per barrel at 0213 GMT, up 6 cents from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was at $56.81 per barrel, up 7 cents from its last settlement.

Traders said crude prices were generally well supported as ongoing output cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia have contributed to a significant reduction in excess supplies that have been dogging markets since 2014.

Tensions in the Middle East raised the prospects of supply disruptions, traders said.

Bahrain said over the weekend that an explosion which caused a fire at its main oil pipeline on Friday was caused by sabotage, linking the attack to Iran, which denied any role in the incident.

Despite the Middle East tensions and OPEC-led supply cuts, traders were cautious in betting on further price rises, not least because of an increase in U.S. drilling for new production.

U.S. drillers added nine oil rigs in the week to Nov. 10, the biggest jump since June, bringing the total count up to 738, General Electric Co’s (GE.N) Baker Hughes energy services firm said late on Friday.

The rig count RIG-OL-USA-BHI, an early indicator of future output, is also much higher than a year ago when only 452 rigs were active, indicating that the U.S. oil industry is comfortable operating at current crude price levels.

U.S. oil producers have raised output C-OUT-T-EIA by more than 14 percent since mid-2016 to a record 9.62 million barrels per day.

This led to a slide in crude futures prices late on Friday away from over two-year highs reached early last week, traders said.

Some analysts warned that both WTI and Brent crude futures looked overbought following strong price rises in late October and early November, raising the risks of a downward correction.

“From a technical perspective, both contracts’ Relative Strength Indexes (RSI) are still in severely overbought territory, signalling that a potentially aggressive short-term downward correction is still a genuine possibility,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore.

Brent crude futures hit their highest price levels since 2015 in November, pushing the Relative Strength Index (RSI) above 70 points, which implies an overbought market.

Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Joseph Radford
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Released:  10/11/20172017-11-10
Word count:  228

House of Representatives president Ageela Saleh has issued a decree setting up an authority to rebuild Benghazi. Called the Benghazi Works Committee.

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Libya herald
It is to be headed by interim prime minister Abdullah Al-Thinni, it includes the east’s governor of the Central Bank of Libya, Ali Al-Hibri, acting mayor of Benghazi Abdulrahman Elabbar and Major-General Abdul Razzaq Al-Nazhuri, the military governor from Derna to Ben Jawad.

The aim of the committee is to assess and approve the various projects, services and facilities needed to for the city’s reconstruction and development. iThese will then be handed to the various ministries and other authorities to implement. The committee is authorised will bring in any other specialists to help in planning.

A statement from Thinni’s office says that funding will be authorised and provided by the Central Bank of Libya (the eastern, parallel branch). It is not how this will work, though, since providing the facilities to rebuild Benghazi will run into billions – and the eastern CBL does not have access to Libya’s oil income.

Quite apart from the destruction wrought during the three-year battle to liberate Benghazi from the militants, the city suffered decades of neglect under Qaddafi rule. It needs a complete new sewerage system among many other infrastructural requirements.

A conference on Benghazi’s reconstruction is planned for January by the acting mayor Abdulrahman Elabbar, who has tasked former city prosecutor Aisha Yusuf, with its organisation. She is one of the city’s members of the HoR.
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Released:  10/11/20172017-11-10
Word count:  379

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil markets were little changed on Friday, supported by ongoing supply cuts and strong demand, although the prospect of rising U.S. shale output capped prices around recent gains.

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Reuters
Brent crude futures LCOc1 were at $63.80 per barrel at 0252 GMT, down 13 cents from their last close, but still within $1 of a more than two-year high of $64.65 a barrel reached earlier this week.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was at $57.02 per barrel, down 15 cents but also not far from this week’s more than two-year peak of $57.92 a barrel.

Analysts said the high prices were a result of efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia to withhold supplies to tighten the market, as well as strong demand and rising political tensions.

“Oil prices have rallied sharply over the past week ... The latest catalyst for this move higher was the sharp rise in geopolitical tensions last weekend, with growing confidence in an OPEC extension and strong oil demand fuelling the rally previously,” said U.S. bank Goldman Sachs.

But there were some words of caution. “This (oil upward) move may be short lived as ... it is possible that shale ... production can be brought back on stream relatively quickly,” said Goldman’s peer Morgan Stanley.

Goldman warned of greater price volatility ahead due to increasing tensions in the Middle East, especially between OPEC fellows but political arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, along with soaring U.S. oil production. “We see potential for high spot price volatility in the coming weeks,” Goldman said.

“A rise in the U.S. rig count and a non-committal OPEC meeting would push prices lower, in our view, yet additional escalation of recent geopolitical tensions could lead to another large rally,” it added.

ANZ bank said that “political stability was jolted awake this week” in the Middle East.

“While the likelihood of a disruption to (oil) supply remains low, we believe the events raise the probability of Saudi Arabia taking a more aggressive stance on production curbs ... As such, we see oil prices remaining well supported in the short term,” ANZ said.

OPEC is due to discuss output policy during a meeting on Nov. 30, and it is expected it will extend the cuts beyond the current expiry date in March 2018.

“Recent OPEC communication suggests that an extension will be announced but there are no details on volumes,” Goldman said.

Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Joseph Radford and Richard Pullin
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Released:  09/11/20172017-11-09
Word count:  442

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices held steady on Thursday after falling late in the previous session, supported by ongoing supply cuts led by OPEC and Russia.

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Reuters
However, traders said a price rally that has pushed up Brent crude by over 40 percent since July may have run its course due to increases in U.S. supplies and some indicators of a demand slowdown.

Brent futures LCOc1 were at $63.58 per barrel at 0516 GMT, up 9 cents, or 0.1 percent, from their last close, but over $1 off the more than two-year high of $64.65 reached earlier this week.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was at $56.87 per barrel, up 6 cents, or 0.1 percent, but also some way off this week’s more than two-year high of $57.69 a barrel.

Key support was coming from efforts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia to withhold supplies in order to tighten the market and prop up prices.

OPEC will discuss output policy during a meeting on Nov. 30, and it is expected the group will extend the current cuts beyond their expiry in March 2018.

“With the OPEC/non-OPEC deal extension beyond March 2018 a certainty, prices may become stronger and temporarily reach the $65-$70 per barrel range in 2018,” said energy consultancy FGE.

Despite this, many analysts say the strong price rally of the past months has likely run its course, at least for now.

U.S. crude stockpiles C-STK-T-EIA rose 2.2 million barrels in the week to Nov. 3, to 457.14 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, contrary to analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 2.9 million barrels.

U.S. crude production C-OUT-T-EIA inched up 67,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 9.62 million bpd, the highest on record.

And output is set to rise further. Texas issued 997 oil and gas drilling permits last month, up nearly 17 percent versus the same month a year ago, the state’s energy regulator said on Wednesday.

On the demand side, global oil demand remains strong, although the latest figures from top importer China came in below expectations.

“At 7.34 million bpd, China crude oil imports dipped to the lowest level since October last year... The trend could continue for the rest of the year,” Barclays bank said, although it added that it expected demand growth to pick up again in 2018.

Key for the last weeks of the year is whether traders remain confident about their huge bets on further price rises, or whether they sell out of these positions, satisfied with recent strong gains.

“It doesn’t matter how bullish the fundamentals are ... when an asset goes vertical there is always room for a pullback and consolidation of recent price moves. That’s where oil prices find themselves this morning,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.

Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Richard Pullin and Christian Schmollinger  
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Released:  09/11/20172017-11-09
Word count:  111

Libya-based Bank of Commerce and Development (BCD) has signed for Finastra’s front-end software to launch a new online and mobile banking platform.

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Finastra (formerly Misys) will provide its Fusionbanking Essence Digital Channels and Teller solutions to BCD. They will integrate with the bank’s core banking system, Equation, which is also supplied by Finastra.

The two parties are long-standing partners – BCD has been using the Equation core and the Trade Innovation trade finance system for many years.

The bank will also roll out Fusionbanking Essence Islamic to support its foray into Shari’ah-compliant finance.

Wissam Khoury, managing director MEA at Finastra, observes “there is a pressing demand for Islamic finance products and services in Libya, in line with the direction the local authorities are taking to fully support Shari’ah standards and principles”.
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Plans dating back to 2013 to boost the water supply in Tobruk with the installation of a fourth evaporator at the town’s desalination plant are back on track with the Beida-based interim government of Abdullah Thinni approving a LD 29-million letter of credit (L/C) for international water technology company VA Tech Wabag.

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The contract for a fourth evaporator was given in 2013, but the political crisis prevented it from being implemented.

According to CEO of the Austrian branch of Wabag, Mahmut Gedek, the fourth evaporator will have nothing to do with the existing plant which was built by France’s SIDEM between 1997 and 2000. It has seen a significant reduction in output because of maintenance problems since the revolution. The new evaporator, with a production capacity of 13,333 cubic metres of water a day, will have its own new seawater intake.

Once the L/C is issued, Wabag says that the work should take no more than 18 months. “We have the designs and the engineering stage is completed,” he said, explaining that it was now a matter of purchasing the equipment, installing it and bringing it on-stream.

The cost of the project, at almost LD 29 million, was set at a fixed rate of some €17 million.

“We are committed to the Libyan market,” added Gedek who stressed that, despite the situation, business continued.

“We have on-going projects in the country and have a local network and the organisation to build other projects,” he said. Among those on the books the just completed industrial water plant for Tripoli West power station.

Other Libya contracts include a demineralisation plant for the power plant at Tobruk as well as an electrochlorination-plant for Tobruk and another for Derna power station. At the latter, commissioning works are ongoing and should be completed by end of the year, Wabag noted.
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Oil & Gas News

Oil & Gas News
Released:  08/11/20172017-11-08
Word count:  412

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil markets dipped on Wednesday as Chinese crude imports fell to their lowest level in a year, although traders said that overall markets remained well supported largely due to OPEC-lead supply cuts.

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Traders said the market was eyeing growing tensions in the Middle East with concern, keeping a cautious tone on trade.

Brent futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $63.55 per barrel at 0434 GMT, down 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, but still not far off a near two-and-a-half year high of $64.65 a barrel reached earlier this week.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was at $56.99 per barrel, down 21 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last settlement, but also still not far off the $57.69 a barrel reached earlier this week - the highest since July 2015.

China’s October oil imports fell sharply from a near record-high of about 9 million barrels per day (bpd) in September to just 7.3 million bpd in October, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Wednesday. That’s their lowest level since October 2016.

Despite this, oil markets remain well supported, traders said.

This is largely due to an ongoing effort lead by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia to withhold supplies in order to prop up prices.

With crude still more than 40 percent up since June, oil-consuming industries that benefited from comparatively low prices are now starting to feel the pinch.

“2016 was a record year for profits,” said Brian Prentice, partner at aviation services firm Cavok.

“Unfortunately, I think the record is behind us. Much of the profits were driven by very low oil prices that we experienced the entire year,” said Prentice. “And while fuel prices are still low, (Brent) oil is back up to $60 a barrel and I think it is going to put downward pressure on airline profits and margins in the coming years.”

Beyond supply and demand fundamentals, traders were closely eyeing escalating tensions in the Middle East.

“Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation and a missile launch by pro-Iran Yemeni Houthis on Riyadh increase the risk of a regional conflict,” political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said.

The resignation on Saturday of the Saudi-allied Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri, announced from Riyadh and blamed on Iran and Hezbollah, is seen by many as the first step in an unprecedented Saudi intervention in Lebanese politics.

Saudi air defence forces intercepted a ballistic missile fired towards Riyadh on Sunday. Saudi Arabia accuses arch-foe Iran of supplying missiles and other weapons to Houthi militia in Yemen. Iran denies the charges and blames the war in Yemen on Riyadh.

Reporting by Henning Gloystein and Jamie Freed; Editing by Richard Pullin and Kenneth Maxwell
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Business News

Business News
Released:  07/11/20172017-11-07
Word count:  207

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) says that it repaid $250 million of the controversial five-year $2-billion interest-free loan given by Libya to Egypt in March 2013. The repayment was made on Wednesday.

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According to CBE deputy governor Rami Abul-Naga, its brings to $1.5 billion the total repayments paid on the loan. There would be two further payments totalling $500 million made next year to complete the repayment, he added. He did not say, however, if the payment was made to the Central Bank of Libya in Tripoli or to the parallel institution in Benghazi.

The loan was controversial when it was announced. It was made by Ali Zeidan to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government headed by the the subsequently overthrown president, Mohamed Morsi, and was seen as having been engineered by the MB in Libya acting in the interests of the movement in Egypt.

In what was seen as a move to counter the criticism, Zeidan himself said at the time that the $2 billion was “not a loan but an investment”, while Central Bank of Libya governor Sadek Elkaber described it as “ a deposit”.

Through its MB connections, the Morsi government also secured a $1-billion loan from Turkey a few months earlier. There was also $3 billion in loans and deposits from Qatar. According to the CBE, it also paid off the last $200 million on the Turkish loan this week. The Qatar funds are reported to have been fully paid back.  
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Oil & Gas News

Oil & Gas News
Released:  07/11/20172017-11-07
Word count:  417

TOKYO (Reuters) - Oil prices largely held on to gains on Tuesday after posting the biggest rise in six weeks a day earlier, buoyed by moves by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince to tighten his grip on power and rising tensions between the kingdom and Iran.

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U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was down just 4 cents at $57.31 a barrel by 0607 GMT. The contract surged 3 percent on Monday, the biggest percentage gain since late September.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were down 5 cents at $64.22. On Monday, they closed 3.5 percent higher, also their biggest percentage gain in about six weeks. Both benchmarks hit their highest since mid-2015 during the session.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman moved to shore up his power base with the arrest of royals, ministers and investors, including billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal and the powerful head of the National Guard, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah.

The arrests, which an official described as part of “phase one” of the crackdown, are the latest in a series of dramatic steps by Prince Mohammed to tighten his grip at home.

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran also rose further. The Saudi Arabia-led military coalition fighting against the Houthi movement in Yemen said on Monday it was closing all Yemeni air, sea and land crossings.

The move came after a missile was fired toward Riyadh on Saturday. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have said they see Iran as responsible for the Yemen conflict and, on Monday Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said his country reserves the right to respond to Iran’s “hostile actions”.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saudi Arabia was blaming Tehran for the consequences of its own “wars of aggression”. “A potential conflict could limit significant supply out of the region,” Shane Chanel, equities and derivatives adviser at ASR Wealth Advisers, said in an email. “We see WTI above $60 and may even see Brent above $70 by the end of the year.”

Despite the moves by the Saudi heir, analysts said they do not see Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, changing its policy of boosting crude prices for now.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said that while there is “satisfaction” with a production-cutting deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers led by Russia, the “job is not done yet.”

OPEC is expected to extend a cut of around 1.8 million barrels per day into the whole of 2018.

U.S. drillers cut eight oil rigs last week, the biggest reduction since May 2016, helping to support prices. While supplies are tightening, analysts said demand remains strong.

Speculators increased their bets on gains in the price of Brent to a record high.

Additional reporting by Jane Chung in SEOUL; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Richard Pullin
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Oil & Gas News

Oil & Gas News
Released:  06/11/20172017-11-06
Word count:  412

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices hit their highest levels since July 2015 early on Monday as markets tightened, while Saudi Arabia’s crown prince cemented his power over the weekend through an anti-corruption crackdown that included high profile arrests.

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Brent futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, hit $62.44 per barrel early on Monday, their highest level since July 2015. Brent was at $62.27 per barrel at 0230 GMT, up 20 cents, or 0.3 percent from the last close and 40 percent above June’s 2017 lows.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 hit $56.00 per barrel in early trading, also the highest since July 2015, and was at $55.79, up 15 cents, or 0.3 percent from the last settlement. WTI is a third above its 2017 lows. (bit.ly/2j3AahN)

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, has tightened his grip on power through an anti-corruption purge by arresting royals, ministers and investors including prominent business billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal and the head of the National Guard, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah.

RBC Capital Markets said in a note that although the “purge represents a stunning political development in Saudi Arabia,” it expected “no immediate changes” in the oil policy of Saudi Arabia, which is the world’s biggest exporter of crude oil.

“MBS seems strongly committed to anchoring the OPEC agreement deep into 2018 and moving ahead with the Aramco sale,” RBC said.

Bin Salman’s reforms include a plan to list parts of giant state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco next year, and a higher oil prices is seen as beneficial for the market capitalisation of the future listed company.

In oil fundamentals, traders said that there were ongoing signs of tightening market conditions.

U.S. energy companies cut eight oil rigs last week, to 729, in the biggest reduction since May 2016.

The decline in U.S. drilling activity comes as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and a non-OPEC group lead by Russia have pledged to hold back about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in oil production to tighten markets.

The pact to withhold supplies runs to March 2018, but there is growing consensus to extend the deal. While supplies are tightening, analysts say demand remains strong.

“Synchronous global economic growth and new supply disruptions are creating the most constructive oil price environment since ... 2014,” Barclays bank said.

The British bank said it was raising its average Q4 Brent price forecast by $6 per barrel to $60 per barrel. ”The surprisingly strong macro backdrop and the accelerated inventory drawdown mean that these slightly higher price levels are likely to be sustained through Q1 of next year.

Barclays said it raised its full-year 2018 forecast by $3 per barrel to $55 per barrel. (bit.ly/2h8UbPZ)

Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Richard Pullin  
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