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Oil Falls to Four-Month Low as Renewed Lockdowns Menace Demand


By Alex Longley

(Bloomberg) Oil fell to a four-month low, deepening Wednesday’s slump as lockdown restrictions grow in Europe.

Futures in London lost 3.9%, declining as the dollar reversed an earlier loss to trade higher. Germany and France, the European Union’s two biggest economies, will clamp down on movement for at least a month to try and curb Covid-19’s spread. There are already signs that road use in Europe is slumping, weighing on oil consumption.

Brent set for a second monthly loss in October

As the impact of the virus rears its head across markets once again, oil is also contending with supply issues too. American crude inventories rose the most since July last week, while Libya output is also gaining rapidly. The head of Saudi Aramco’s trading unit warned there may not be enough demand to absorb the planned OPEC+ supply increase in January.

“The recovery of oil demand in Europe has stalled in recent weeks,” said Giovanni Staunovo, commodity analyst at UBS Group AG. “We previously forecast the oil market to be in deficit in 4Q. It now will likely be balanced and might even flip into oversupplied in November and December.”

Prices
  • Brent for December settlement lost 3.9% to $37.59 a barrel at 10:19 a.m. in London
  • West Texas Intermediate for December delivery fell 4.3% to $35.80

Though crude prices have flatlined in recent months, refining margins have struggled as the recovery in consumption stalls. PBF Energy Inc. will idle a 160,000 barrel-a-day New Jersey refinery after fuel demand plummeted. Profits from making gasoline in the U.S. were the weakest since April on Wednesday.

The slump in recent days hasn’t solely affected near-term prices either. Brent for next year closed at their weakest level since May on Wednesday.

Other oil-market news
  • Royal Dutch Shell Plc set out to woo disgruntled investors by raising its dividend and pledging to grow it steadily, just six months after slashing the payout.
  • Exxon Mobil Corp. is maintaining the third-highest dividend in the S&P 500 Index, underscoring its historic commitment to the payout despite this year’s virus-driven oil crash.
  • North Sea Johan Sverdrup crude loadings have been set at 22 cargoes totaling 15 million barrels, or 484,000 barrels a day, in December, according to a program seen by Bloomberg. The daily volume is the highest since the field started production in October 2019.


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