Asian oil refiners race to secure crude supplies amid trade war

Oil Prices Up on Weak US Crude Inventory

But by 0528 GMT, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last settlement at $$73.07 per barrel. -China tit-for-tat on trade.

Many analysts attributed Friday's rally of USA oil price to a "short covering situation" from Thursday's decline. Brent crude futures were down 7 cents, or 0.1 per cent, at $77.32.

Meanwhile, Chinese state media has unleashed a full-on propaganda blitzkrieg, slamming Trump's government as a "gang of hoodlums", with officials vowing retaliation, while the chairman of Sinochem just become China's official leader of the anti-Trump resistance, quoting Michelle Obama's famous slogan "when they go low, we go high".

"Mr. Trump sends every day a new message that creates uncertainty in the market", said Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh stated in an interview. The stoppage at the 360,000 barrels per day (bpd) Syncrude facility in Canada has contributed to a sharp reduction in the discount for USA crude versus Brent crude over the past month.

On Friday, the USA tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods were implemented.

Beijing has threatened a 25 percent tariff on US crude imports, although it has not specified an introduction date.

In an alarming sign for Washington, and a welcome development for Iran, some locals have decided not to see which way the dice may fall.

"If China imposes tariffs, their refineries won't buy USA crude since it would cost more", Sandy Fielden, director of research for commodities and energy at Morningstar Inc., said by telephone.

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He said his refinery had cancelled U.S. crude orders and would switch to Middle East or West African supplies instead.

Import duties would make USA oil uncompetitive in China, forcing its refiners to seek alternative supplies in a tight market.

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 a report on Friday.

"(Nonetheless) supply disruptions in Libya and Canada may put upward pressure on prices in the near-term", ANZ said in a morning note, adding that recent data showed "an increase in the net-long positioning of hedge funds on Brent crude". "They can import more, but can they process it?"

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

OPEC, Russi and other producers agreed in June to a modest increase in output to dampen oil prices, which recently hit 3-1/2 year highs.

The flipside is that since less Iranian oil exports will go unused, it may provide a solace to the United States consumer facing the highest gas prices in four years.

China responded promptly and slapped duties on the same amount of value unto U.S. products.

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