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OPEC+ snubs Bidens plea to pump more oil | OPEC News

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OPEC and its allies on Thursday decided to stick to their original plan to boost output by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd), rejecting pleas by United States President Joe Biden to pump more oil to cool red-hot energy prices.

The US, Japan and India had urged the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies led by Russia, a grouping known as OPEC+, to boost crude production to meet surging demand as nations around the world roll back COVID-19 restrictions and ramp up production.

The current demand-supply mismatch has pushed oil prices above $80 per barrel [for] Brent for more than a month, which has been a short-term boon for OPEC+ producers but pain for consumers, in particular countries worried about inflation and post-pandemic economic growth, Senior Oil Markets Analyst at Rystad Energy Louise Dickson said in a note.

Following Thursdays news, global benchmark Brent crude futures were up 0.30 percent at $82.24 per gallon as of 11:18am in New York (15:18 GMT). US West Texas Intermediate futures were down 0.16 percent at $80.73 per barrel.

Last year, OPEC+ dramatically slashed production in response to gutted oil demand. In August, it started ramping up production by 400,000 barrels per day. Under the current plan, all of last years cuts should be phased out by September 2022.

But that timetable does little to help alleviate the current global energy crunch, which is set to grow more painful as the Northern Hemisphere enters the winter months.

In the US, consumers are looking at higher heating bills this winter, while across the nation, the price of gasoline is up by at least $1.30 per gallon compared to last year and growing.

Analysts say the squeeze on US consumers could prompt the US to tap emergency oil stockpiles.

I think OPEC+s decision only increases the odds of an SPR [Strategic Petroleum Reserve] release, possibly in coordination with other major oil consumers. Worth noting that production out of Russia and Saudi Arabia has largely recovered to pre-COVID levels, yet US production has not, Reed Blakemore, deputy director of the Atlantic Councils Global Energy Center, told Al Jazeera.

This underscores that in the absence of strong US shale production prior to the pandemic, the number of tools available to the Biden administration to mitigate and influence a worsening energy crisis might be limited, he added.

Moving forward, the current debate in the shale patch of capital discipline versus production off of margins will increasingly take on policy-driven elements of energy security, especially should a cold winter arrive and the energy crisis deepen, Blakemore said.

That may make the response of the Biden Administration all the more complicated. Other countries facing an energy crunch have already taken extraordinary steps to meet demand.

China has responded to high commodity prices by releasing volumes of strategic petroleum reserves, and the US is discussing a similar maneuver, so if OPEC+ stays conservative, the market could expect some reactionary releases from the US and China, Dickson of Rystad wrote.

Even before the meeting, OPEC+ giants Saudi Arabia and Russia, as well as smaller members Iraq, Kuwait, and UAE, all said they would stick with the current production schedule.

We had always suspected that OPEC+ would leave its proposed quotas unchanged this month, despite loud calls for higher production from many countries, including the US, Japan and India, Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note on Thursday.

Some OPEC+ members including Nigeria and Angola are struggling to meet their own output quotas due to lack of investment and faltering infrastructure. If OPEC+ were to boost output, those countries would lose revenue. That would likely result in lower oil prices, Bain wrote.

Prices of over $80 per barrel are, of course, another reason why OPEC+ will not be in any hurry to add supply to the market, particularly given that US producers have shown little inclination to raise output, she added.

Capital Economics forecasts that the gradual increase in OPEC+ output over the course of next year, along with growth in non-OPEC oil output, will flip the oil market into a surplus. It projects the price of Brent will fall to around $60 per barrel at the end of 2022.

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Oil crashes as coronavirus strain threatens demand recovery | Oil and Gas News

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The emergence of the new strain represents the biggest threat to the recovery in global oil consumption.

Oil prices crashed more than 10% as a new coronavirus strain sparked fears that renewed lockdowns will threaten a global recovery in demand.

West Texas Intermediate crude tumbled below the $70-a-barrel level on Friday for the first time since late September, while the global benchmark price, Brent, slumped to less than $75.

The downward spiral in prices comes three days after a U.S.-led effort by top consuming nations to release stockpiled crude in an attempt to tame surging energy inflation. Next weeks OPEC+ meeting will now take on an even greater significance, as the producer group led by Saudi Arabia and Russia must decide whether to continue ratcheting up supply or pause the increases in response to the latest market volatility. OPEC+ is leaning towardabandoninga plan for a modest production hike scheduled for January when it meets on Dec. 1 to 2, according to delegates.

The identification of the new Covid variant has already prompted the U.S., the European Union and the U.K. to restrict air travel and triggered a selloff across financial markets, even as researchers have yet to determine whether its more transmissible or lethal than previous strains.

The development apparently wrong-footed many in the oil market who had been comforted by low inventory levels and demand that had rebounded to 2019 levels, said Rebecca Babin, senior energy trader at CIBC Private Wealth Management.

It was a lack of downside that had us continuing to think nothing bad could happen, she said. No one was thinking we could get a variant that were not familiar with and it could have meaningful impact.

The price plunge marks a dramatic change in market sentiment. Crude hit multiyear highs in recent months amid an energy crisis in Europe and China that had also sparked rallies in prices for coal and natural gas. Some traders and analysts predicted oil could reach $100 a barrel or more.

High gasoline retail prices prompted U.S. President Joe Biden to seek ways to ease the pressure on consumers, leading to Tuesdaysannouncementthat the U.S. will release 50 million barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, with China, Japan, India, South Korea and the U.K. also set to tap inventories. Still, oil rose on the day that the move was confirmed, suggesting traders had already priced in the new supply, or that they were underwhelmed by the supply response.

OPEC+ had warned previously it would reconsider a potential output increase if other nations went ahead with a reserve release. UBS Group AG said Friday that OPEC+ could choose to pause its current planned output hike of 400,000 barrels a day, or even cut production.

Prices

  • West Texas Intermediate for January fell $10.24, or 13.1%, from Wednesdays close to settle at $68.15 a barrel in New York. The decline was the largest since April 2020.
  • There was no settlement Thursday due to the Thanksgiving holiday and all transactions will be booked Friday
  • Brent for January settlement tumbled $9.50 to settle at $72.72 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange

Fridays oil selloff was likely exacerbated by a lack of trading activity during the U.S. holiday period, coming a day after Thanksgiving, and as the New York market closed early.

Its a sign the market got carried away from itself and that we still remain very vulnerable to Covid-19, said John Kilduff, founding partner at Again Capital LLC.

Aside from the headline prices, crude traders also watched several other notable shifts in the market. WTI crude futures closed below its 200-day and 100-day moving averages, signs of technical weakness. The extreme pressure on the U.S. benchmark meant its discount to Brent expanded, reaching the widest since May 2020.

The picture wasnt much brighter in oil-product markets, the part of the oil complex most directly affected by end-user demand.Dieselplunged, particularly in Asia, as the market began to price in a potential renewed hit to economic growth.

This is a huge overreaction in terms of the market, Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at consultant Energy Aspects Ltd. said in a Bloomberg Television interview. This is the market pricing in the worst possible scenarios.

Other key news:

Chinas ambiguity on whether it will join the U.S.-led coordinated release of oil reserves is aimed at a domestic audience to show Beijing isnt following Washington, according to government officials involved in the discussions.

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Even fully vaccinated, you’re anti-vax if you oppose mandates, Australian minister declares RT World News

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People who oppose Covid-19 vaccine mandates are anti-vaxxers, pure and simple, Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said during a heated press conference, noting more positive cases in his state were expected.

Gunner made it more than clear during a press conference in which he was asked if his hardline stance on vaccine mandates might have turned some away from getting the jab that anyone who wasn’t 100% for the state’s increasingly draconian vaccination mandates was a true “anti-vaxxer.” Even if they themselves had been vaccinated, he argued, Australians were either with the virus or with the mandates.

If you give a green light, give comfort to, support anybody who argues against the vaccine, you are an anti-vaxxer. Your personal vaccination status is utterly irrelevant,” Gunner declared.

The term ‘anti-vaxxer’, previously used to denote a parent who opposed vaccination for their children, has seen its meaning expanded during the Covid-19 pandemic to include anyone who opposes vaccination for themselves – and now, in the eyes of ardent vaccine supporters, anyone who opposes a mandate, whether or not they themselves have taken the shot.

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The politician whos used Covid to restrict peoples rights to an unprecedented level strikes again

The politician whos used Covid to restrict peoples rights to an unprecedented level strikes again

If you’re out there in any way, shape or form campaigning against the mandate, then you are absolutely anti-vax,” he continued, insisting the state’s vaccination mandate was “absolutely critical” to saving lives. “I will never back away from supporting vaccines, and anyone out there who comes for the mandate, you are anti-vax,” Gunner snarled.

A lockdown in the state’s town of Katherine was set to be extended until 6pm local time Wednesday night because with 1,300 test results still outstanding, the authorities were “still expecting more positive cases.” Two cases had been detected on Monday – a 67-year-old man and a 33-year-old mother said to be a “close contact of a confirmed case.” However, her child had repeatedly tested negative. 

Despite the paucity of cases, Gunner insisted it was “highly likely” there were other positive cases in the area, citing “continual positive traces” in the wastewater catchment area of the neighborhood, but allowed the nearby Robinson River area to move out of lockdown, giving residents the freedom to move around so long as they did not leave the neighborhood.

The minister insisted “enforcement, rather than encouragement” was the only way to get vaccination levels to the desired target.

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Go through, go, Lukashenko tells asylum seekers near EU border | News

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Belarusian leader makes first public appearance near the chaotic border since crisis broke out.

With no end in sight for the weeks-long crisis at the European Unions eastern frontier, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has told hopeful asylum seekers that his country would not stop them from attempting to cross into the bloc.

Addressing a group on Friday, his first public appearance at the border since the start of the crisis, Lukashenko met asylum seekers and refugees at a warehouse turned into a shelter and told them they were free to head west or go home as they chose.

An Iraqi teenager told Lukashenko she could not return home and hoped to continue on to Europe.

We wont only hope, Lukashenko answered. We will work together on your dream.

Lukashenko said no one would be coerced.

If you want to go westwards, we wont detain you, choke you, beat you, he said as hundreds applauded. Its up to you. Go through. Go.

He added, We wont in any circumstances detain you, tie your hands and load you on planes to send you home if you dont want that.

Belaruss President Alexander Lukashenko visits a centre for asylum seekers and refugees near the Bruzgi border point on the Belarus-Poland border [Maxim Guchek/Belta/AFP]

Thousands of refugees and asylum seekers are stuck between Belarus and Poland, in what the EU has said is a crisis Minsk engineered by distributing Belarusian visas in the Middle East, flying them in and pushing them across the border.

Lukashenko said it was the EU that deliberately provoked a humanitarian crisis that needed to be resolved.

On Friday, he told the asylum seekers he would not play politics with their fate.

Hybrid war

Poland and other EU nations have argued the crisis is part of a hybrid war Minsk is waging in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed in response to Lukashenkos crushing of protests against his disputed re-election last year and is designed to destabilise the bloc.

The EU has agreed on new sanctions in response to the border crisis, which diplomats in Brussels said should be approved and adopted in early December.

Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have deployed thousands of border guards, soldiers and police to seal the border and push back people attempting to cross over from Belarus.

On Friday, Lithuania said it could close its border crossings if more attempted to cross from Belarus in trucks.

Belarus has begun to fly some people home.

On Friday, two planes brought hundreds of Iraqis back from Belarus to Erbil, capital of Iraqs Kurdish autonomous region.

Two more flights were expected on November 26 and 27, the TASS news agency reported.

Warsaw has said the repatriation of refugees and asylum seekers marked a change of tactics rather than a genuine attempt at de-escalation and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, touring European capitals this week to rally support for a tough response, has raised the possibility of further sanctions if the crisis escalated.

Poland and Lithuania have continued to report crossing attempts by people who are increasingly desperate with the onset of winter conditions. Polish authorities also reported unrest at one of the detention centres set up for refugees and asylum seekers who made their way into the country.

The issue has exacerbated strife between Russia, which is Belaruss main backer, and the EU, whose ties have been at post-Cold War lows since Moscows annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who helped Lukashenko ride out mass street protests after last years election, has also supported Minsk in its most recent standoff with the EU.

Meanwhile, humanitarian fears are growing, with the reported deaths of at least a dozen refugees and asylum seekers in the past few weeks. The real number of casualties is widely understood to be higher.

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