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Oil prices slump over prolonged COVID-19 restrictions, Libya resumes production

Oil traders are panicky over the potential hit on oil prices following higher output in Libya.

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Crude oil prices slumped on Monday over increasing concerns over prolonged coronavirus restrictions and the resumption of oil production by Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) from certain fields and some exports of crude oil.

The oil company added that it will only restart production at safe fields and exports from safe ports.

The American headline crude, the WTI declined by about 5% to $39 per barrel while the Brent crude declined by 4.13% to $41.37 per barrel.

Oil traders are panicky over the potential hit on oil prices following higher output in Libya as it resumes production

NOC’s Chairman, Mustapha Sanalla, “Our main concern is to start production and exports taking into account the safety of workers and operations, as well as to prevent any attempts to politicize the national oil sector, which means that the NOC is doing its technical and non-political mission to resume operations in the safe areas and technical evaluation is underway in preparation for the start of production and exports.”

The company said the force majeure will be lifted from fields and ports that are free of the presence of paramilitary groups and mercenaries but remain in effect for those where there are still such groups, which will disrupt the work of NOC.

The head of the Libyan National Army, General Khalifa Haftar, whose troops, with assistance from other affiliated groups, shut Libya’s oil ports in January, announced the end of the blockade on Friday. This was on the same day, NOC’s Sanalla disclosed that the force majeure will only be lifted from facilities after they are demilitarized.

The blockade by the military had driven down the oil production in Libya to the current 100,000 barrels per day as against the 1.2 million barrel per day at the beginning of the year.

This latest development is likely to reverse the improvement in oil prices that followed the latest meeting of OPEC+, which gave a glimmer of hope for supply, if not demand.

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COMMODITIES

World’s biggest independent oil trader says prices will rise above $80 due to gas crisis

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The world’s largest independent oil trader, Vitol Group, has said that it expects crude oil price to climb above $80 per barrel in the next couple of weeks.

This follows the expectation that the global crude oil demand will rise by an extra half a million barrels per day by winter due to global gas crisis which has led to rise in gas prices and driving a rush for other alternative sources of fuel.

This was made known by the Chief Executive Officer of Vitol, Russel Hardy, during an interview in London on Thursday, where he said that oil is most likely headed above $80 a barrel, partly as higher gas prices boost demand.

What the Vitol Chief Executive Officer is saying

Hardy said that this could force OPEC+ producers to add more supply into the market.

He said, “Can demand surprise us to the upside because of power switching? Yes,” Hardy said. “Is it likely that there’s half a million barrels a day of extra demand that comes through because of gas pricing? Probably our view is, that is likely across winter.

“All people are worried about is that we’re missing pieces of stock which we normally have,” he said. “During the winter, demand for gas is massively higher than demand for gas during the summer. You have to store, there’s no two ways around it.”

Hardy’s bullish sentiments echoes that of the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, who predicted higher oil prices in the next 3 months and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which is predicting higher crude oil prices, especially if the winter months are colder than normal.

In case you missed it

Recall that yesterday, the NNPC said that the supply crisis which has negatively affected the global natural gas market and has led to rising prices, could push up oil prices by as much as $10 a barrel, which is about $86 per barrel over the next 3 to 6 months.

The NNPC boss pointed out that the global gas crisis which has led to an increase in gas prices will make energy consumers seek fuel alternatives to natural gas in the nearest future which might see demand for oil rising by as much as 1 million barrels per day with attendant effect on crude oil prices

Traders have been assessing the likely impact of a tightening natural gas market on the broader energy complex over the coming winter.

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COMMODITIES

China’s data disappoints, as oil prices fall

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China, the second-largest oil consumer globally, posted a slightly poor economic report which clouded the fuel demand outlook in the near term.

An earlier report by Caixin showed China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) was 50.3 in July, lower than expected. On Saturday, manufacturing and nonmanufacturing PMIs came in at 50.4 and 53.3 respectively.

Business activity in the country has slowed due to higher raw material costs, equipment maintenance, recent floods, and the latest outbreak of COVID-19.

Asia’s biggest economy had been recovering at a rapid pace but if this recent slowdown deepens, the outlook will fall significantly. The outlook for crude demand is shaky, and that is unlikely to change until global vaccination rates improve.

Investors also looked forward to more oil production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+).

Brent crude oil futures fell 1.05% at the time of writing this report and WTI crude oil futures fell 0.92%. According to reports, OPEC’s oil production rose to its highest level since April 2020 in July. Efforts to reduce production curbs will be further eased from August 1. Since then, Saudi Arabia has progressively ceased its voluntary supply cut.

There continues to be an increase in COVID-19 cases on a daily basis. A higher vaccination rate could however prevent the need for restrictive measures that caused fuel demand to plummet in 2020.

There will be no lockdown as the Delta variant of the virus fuels an outbreak of cases in mainly unvaccinated populations, but the situation is escalating, U.S. officials report.

The daily gasoline consumption of India, the third-biggest oil importer globally, exceeded pre-COVID-19 levels in July. While COVID-19 lockdowns were relaxed across the country, gas oil sales were low, indicating a sluggish industrial outlook.

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COMMODITIES

Gold mining: Segilola mine produces first gold output, targets 85,000 ounces a year

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Segilola Gold Mine, Nigeria’s first and largest industrial-scale gold mine owned by the Canadian mineral exploration company, Thor Explorations Limited poured its first gold from the mine in Osun state on Friday.

This was disclosed in a statement by Thor Explorations, reported by Bloomberg.

This represents a major step towards diversifying and maximizing Nigeria’s gold mineral reserves. The Canadian company has spent $100 million to build the mine, while Africa Finance Corp, its largest shareholder, provided $86 million in debt and equity financing.

The company added that the plant, which will now ramp up over the next six weeks, is targeting an output of 85,000 ounces a year, which is still below African gold mining outputs from the two biggest gold projects in Africa – Barrick Gold Corp’s Kibali in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Loulo-Gounkoto in Mali – which produced 808,000 ounces and 680,000 ounces respectively in 2020, according to Bloomberg.

Minister of Mines Olamilekan Adegbite also disclosed on Friday that Segilola Mine “proves to the mining world that Nigeria is the next big frontier mining destination,” adding that it is a testament to the Buhari’s administration drive to diversify the economy through the mining sector.

What you should know

Recall it was reported earlier this year that Segilola Gold Mine, Nigeria’s first and largest industrial-scale gold mine owned by the Canadian mineral exploration company, Thor Explorations Limited, is set to be completed in the first half of 2021.

The gold mine tagged “Segilola” is a high-grade gold project being developed in Osun state, Nigeria. It is expected to hasten Nigeria’s economic diversification and reduce unemployment among the youth populace.

Thor Explorations Limited announced that a set of encouraging drill results from its in-pit and extensional diamond core drilling program revealed that the gold mine is on course to pour its first gold in Q2 2021.

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