Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Crude oil and refined products futures were trading higher on Tuesday, as market participants weigh progress towards restarting the Forties pipeline in the North Sea against some supportive comments from the Iraqi oil ministry and positive economic data releases from Japan.
Ineos says the Forties pipeline was repaired over Christmas, and that it is testing the pipeline. Full flows are expected to resume early next year, with a small number of customers sending oil and gas at low rates during this testing phase. The line had been transporting some 450,000 barrels per day of oil before the discovery of an onshore crack that prompted this shutdown.
Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi says he is optimistic that supply and demand for oil will be balanced within the next three months. Reuters reports that he said inventories have fallen to an acceptable level, and that there are positive signs that oil market prices could improve significantly next year.
China halted oil product exports to North Korea last month, according to Chinese customs data. This move, Reuters reports, goes above and beyond sanctions imposed earlier this year by the United Nations. The UN Security Council last week imposed a 500,000-barrel per year limit of oil product shipments to North Korea, in response to continued nuclear and missile program development.