Showing posts from August 1, 2021

Crude oil markets face a crucial period

  The price of crude oil dropped significantly while recording the biggest drop since October last year; it did coincide with the rise in the US inventories for the week ending July 30, by over 3.6 million barrels. There is a combination of factors that clearly has been driving the price of crude oil down in recent days: at the top of the list is the less-than-expected growth in China, despite multiple reports indicating to the contrary, months ago; in proportion to the slower growth, China’s oil imports declined as expected and the effect is significant because it is the world’s top importer of the commodity. To make matters worse, there are new outbreaks of the Delta variant in a few major cities in China and the corresponding lockdowns in turn bring down the traffic and demand for oil. Although China is taking effective measures to control it from spreading to other cities, the lockdowns will remains for weeks, bringing the economic activities in the cities to a standstill.

New Iranian president revives the hopes of restarting the talks on JCPOA

  The inauguration of the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, ended without the rise of a new controversy amidst heightened tension in the region. The speech delivered by the new president to an audience with significant foreign participation was somewhat conciliatory too. He emphasized his desire to improve on relations with neighbours; and he said, all neighbours, without excluding any nation. Those who follow his speech wonder whether it included Israel too! Mr Raisi had been talking about improving on its strained relationship with Saudi Arabia even before he took office. They have not progressed very much, though. When the latter is under constant attacks from Houthi drones and missiles, it is unrealistic to expect any movement in the right direction. In addition, Saudis have been vehemently opposing the Iranian nuclear activities. Perhaps, having sensing the mood of the neighbours, Mr Raisi emphasized – not just once, three times in a row - in his maiden speech that Ira

Oil price seasaws and Covid infection rates drive it

  It is now explicitly clear that the falling crude oil price is directly related to the spikes in Coronavirus infections across the world, regardless of the region. As of 09:15 GMT, the WTI and Brent stood at $68.05 and $70.29 respectively, having fallen sharply for the past 3 days; the rate of fall has gone down and the prices may recover as the day wears on. The unexpected build-up of the US crude oil inventories by 3.6 million barrels for the week ending July 30 has taken its toll on the crude oil markets; before the EIA released its latest data, the expectation of the analysts was a draw of 2.9 million barrels. The significant rise in the US inventories reflects the concern among the public about the steep rise in infections across the US. Although the combination of vaccines give an individual some form of defence against the virus, the spread of the disease, even in the developed world, clearly indicates that the former is not a silver bullet; it, however, has brought do

Oil Price: crude oil markets are still shaky despite the end of maritime 'incident;

  The maritime incident involving a Panamanian-registered ship in the in the Gulf of Oman near the 25 th parallel north that created buzz yesterday has ended; according to certain media reports, the same ship was involved in a similar situation in the region two years ago due to an issue over sanctions - or sanction-busting. The British maritime agency, MKMTO, which initially reported the ‘hijacking incident’, now says that the incident is over and those who boarded the ship without authority, have finally left the ship. In short, the stand-off is over. In response to the peaceful end of the incident, the crude oil prices recovered sightly in the early hours on Wednesday  from the losses they suffered yesterday, only to fall again, mainly due to the rising tension in the region, especially in the Gulf of Oman and of course, the Strait of Hormuz. The tension started building in the region due to a deadly attack on an Israel-registered tanker on Friday, last week in which the Roma

Oil Price: what really spooked the markets?

  The crude oil markets had a rocky start on Monday, perhaps owing to a range of unexpected global developments. At the top of the list was the drone attack, attributed to Iran, on an Israeli-registered tanker off the coast of Oman. The serious attack that led to the death of the captain and a British security officer created a palpable tension in the volatile region, just less than a week away for the inauguration of the new Iranian president. The US, UK and Israel now say in unison that Iran is responsible for the attack. The US warned that there would be an appropriate response in the coming days, leaving the nature of it open to speculation. In addition, Israel vowed to deal with its own way; it did not specify or hint what form that response would be, either. Military analysts believe the response may be beyond imposing new sanctions; a military response, on the other hand, has the potential to escalate the crisis and even bring in more shadowy actors into the conflict are

Resistance Axis: is this a resurrected central line for evolving Middle Eastern troubles to move around?

  In the State of the Union address in 2002, President George W Bush coined the phrase ‘axis of evil’, while associating it with three arch enemies of the US at that time – Iran, Iraq under Sadaam Hussain and North Korea. In response, Iran defined its own counter-axis and named it, the ‘Axis of Resistance’, then shortened to Resistance Axis and identified itself and the militant groups that it openly supported as the rest of the life members. Both the original phrase and its counter-version gradually lost its lustre in the sphere of global politics as the world faced more critical crises than mutual mud-slinging, coated in soundbites. In the wake of a drone attack, in the early hours on Friday, against Israeli-owned tanker near Oman that resulted in the death of two crew members, the Iranian version of the phrase has been resurrected by the Iranian media, as being responsible for the attack. The Iranian media, however, omitted Iran from the group, while identified just the mili

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