WTI prices dip below $70 mark as free fall continues

Crude oil. Image: Pexels

Oct. 18 (UPI) — Projections of $100 oil at the end of 2018 were the rage just a few weeks ago. It remains to be seen what will happen with U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia and whether sanctions against Iran will put a kink in global supplies next month.

But for now, crude oil prices are retreating from September highs.

WTI crude oil prices fell below $70 a barrel while Brent prices slipped below the $80 mark in Thursday trading.

A larger than expected increase in crude oil supplies is to blame for the drop in prices, a potential signal that oil demand is dropping worldwide.

But some analysts aren’t buying that.

“The figures will be distorted considerably by Hurricane Michael and should therefore not be over-interpreted,” Commerzbank said in a note. “Roughly 40 percent of U.S. oil production in the Gulf of Mexico had been shut down for three days, resulting in a good 2 million barrels less crude oil being produced.”

Refinery production rates are declining from 17 million barrels per day in late September to 16.4 million barrels per day as of Oct. 12. Refineries are not drawing as much from crude stocks, causing the supply to go up.

Oil prices are also negatively affected by what’s happening on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones dropped 800 points in one day last week.

“Oil prices are currently being driven by a disparate mix of factors. The overall macroeconomic context remains central, in particular market concerns about trade,” Standard Charted wrote in a note. “As was seen last week, oil prices rarely weather any abrupt changes in investor risk preferences.”

Investopedia believes crude oil has stalled at the $70 mark and could sell off into the low $60s in the next few months.

Port of Corpus Christi signs oil export deal with JV

Suezmax tankers carrying 1 million barrels of crude oil will be pulling into the Port of Corpus Christi to export U.S. oil from the Texas coast. The port signed a 10-year agreement with Pin Oak, a joint venture between Dauphine Midstream and Mercruia Energy Group to use an oil dock there.

The dock can load 40,000 barrels of oil an hour, or 960,000 barrels a day.

The port is in the process of deepening and widening its ship channel to accommodate larger ships and more traffic.

The Port of Corpus Christi has plans for an even larger oil export terminal on Harbor Island that could handle the world’s largest tankers that are capable of carrying million barrels of oil. The $500 million project also includes a tank farm.

“This nation has an opportunity to become a net exporter of its energy production and turn the tide in balancing the trade,” said Sean Strawbridge, CEO of the Port of Corpus Christi.

Residents who live along the Texas coast are rallying to fight against the project, citing the destruction brought by Hurricane Harvey last year. Opponents say it would have been worse if there was 1 million barrels of oil in the storm’s path.


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