China trade war could get India new oil suppliers from US

Strait of Singapore

REUTERS Henning Gloystein File

South Korea has suspended all buying of Iran crude and superlight crude, more commonly known as condensate after the USA stepped up pressure on Iran crude buyers to stop importing its crude, Reuters reports, citing unnamed sources familiar with developments.

Beijing has said it may include a 25 percent tariff on US crude oil imports, although it has not specified a date on which it would include that duty.

It shows the year-on-year percentage growth in USA non-farm payrolls, splitting the results by oil and non-oil producing states.

The South Korean embassy in Tehran on Saturday denied that the country has stopped oil imports from Iran, IRAN Daily reported.

The trade war has yet to have a direct impact on oil markets, but China has indicated it could place tariffs on United States crude imports.

Benchmark Brent LCOc1 was up 40 cents at $77.51 a barrel by 0850 GMT.

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India is also facing US pressure, and despite an official stance that it will continue buying Iranian crude, some large buyers are already winding down imports on fears their access to American bank financing will be closed if they violate the sanctions. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 1.3% to $78.13.

USA energy companies last week increased the number of rigs drilling for oil by five to 863, up 100 year-on-year, General Electric Co's (GE.N) Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report late on Friday.

"Things will get worse before they get better on trade... between the US and China", said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.

USA markets also garnered support from a government employment report showing better-than-expected growth in jobs.

An additional fact to consider: Tariffs would make USA oil uncompetitive in China.

Energy consultancy FGE on Friday issued a warning of looming supply shortages due to USA sanctions against Iran, and because of disruptions elsewhere.

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"Iran's exports are some 2.7-million barrels a day, including condensate", it noted.

Meanwhile, Brent oil price was under pressure on Friday amid an escalating global trade tensions.

"Venezuela ... will lose another 400,000 barrels a day by year-end, with production going to below 1-million barrels a day", FGE said, noting that another 300,000 barrels a day of Libyan capacity was disrupted.

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 USA 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 worldwide prices (Brent) further up".

Top exporter Saudi Arabia told OPEC it raised oil output by nearly 500,000 barrels per day last month, OPEC sources said, a sign Riyadh wants to make up for shortages elsewhere and dampen prices.

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