Oil up but set for weekly loss on stock build, trade tensions

Iran's Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh addresses the 4th Iranian Petroleum and Energy Club Congress & Exhibition in Tehran Oct. 16 2018

Iran's Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh addresses the 4th Iranian Petroleum and Energy Club Congress & Exhibition in Tehran Oct. 16 2018

WTI crude oil settles -1.6% to a five-week low $68.65/bbl, notching a two-day loss of 4.5% following data showing a fourth straight weekly increase in US crude inventories; Brent -0.6% at $79.58/bbl.

Oil slipped to the lowest level in almost a month after expanding American stockpiles overshadowed tensions between the USA and Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of a prominent kingdom critic.

"As our leaders have said, it will be impossible to stop Iran from selling its oil", the source said, adding: "We have various ways of selling our oil and when the tankers reach Dalian, we will decide whether to sell it to other buyers or to China".

Oil prices nudged higher on Friday but were set for a second weekly drop amid higher US crude inventories, an ongoing Sino-US trade war and concerns over the death of a prominent Saudi journalist.

Saudi Arabia's role as a major oil producer is vital to United States efforts to ramp up economic pressure on Iran, a policy on which both Riyadh and the Trump administration are closely aligned.

Oil prices rose on Friday on signs of surging demand in China, the world's second-biggest oil consumer, although the market was heading for a second week of losses on rising US inventories and concern that trade wars were curbing economic activity.

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USA crude oil imports averaged 7.6 million barrels per day last week, up by 218,000 barrels per day from the previous week.

Saudi Arabia is denying that it played any role in Khashoggi's disappearance.

Meanwhile, there is other evidence to suggest that Iran is succeeding in shipping much more oil than is officially reported.

Saudi Arabia's existing pledge to increase production is seen as crucial to the Trump administration's effort to impose renewed sanctions on Iran while keeping a lid on crude prices.

While offering of oil at IRENEX is a pilot plan with its supporters and opponents, if conducted and continues it will definitely change Iran' pattern of crude oil exports and create some big potentials for expansion of the deals and some new financial instruments over this highly-valued export product.

A stronger USA dollar made the dollar-priced commodity less attractive for holders of other currencies.

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Refiners in Turkey, India and possibly China are reportedly negotiating with US officials over waivers to enable them to continue purchasing at least some Iranian oil after November 4.

Rising prices helped spur the development of new supplies in Alaska, the North Sea, the Soviet Union and China, which came onstream and flooded the oil market in the 1980s.

The European Union said last month it was considering setting up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to facilitate trade with Iran and said it could be in place before November.

The US shale oil boom has been slowed a bit in recent months by infrastructure constraints.

Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih pledged on the eve of Pompeo's visit that Riyadh will be a responsible supplier and use its spare production capacity to cushion oil markets against any supply shocks.

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