Oil prices tumbled four percent yesterday, as the rapid spread of a coronavirus in several countries outside China left investors concerned about a hit to demand.
Global shares also extended losses as worries about the impact of the new virus grew, with the number of infections jumping in Iran, Italy and South Korea.
Brent crude was down $2.42, or 4.1%, to $56.09 a barrel. U.S. crude futures fell by $2.12, or 4 per cent to $51.26.
“Oil prices will remain vulnerable here as energy traders were not pricing in the coronavirus becoming a pandemic,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.
“While some parts of China are seeing improving statistics with the coronavirus, financial markets will remain on edge until we start seeing the situation improve in Iran, Italy, South Korea and Japan.” he said.
South Korea’s fourth-largest city, Daegu, grew increasingly isolated as the number of infections there rose rapidly, with some airlines suspending flights to the city until March 9 and March 28, respectively. The country reported its seventh death after raising its infectious disease alert to its highest level.
Italy reported a third death from the flu-like virus and 150 infections.
Iran said it had confirmed 61 cases and 12 deaths, with most of the infections in the Shi’ite Muslim holy city of Qom. Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey imposed travel and immigration curbs on the Islamic Republic.
“We should not underestimate the economic disruption as a super spreader could trigger a massive drop in business activity around the globe of proportions the world has never dealt with before,” Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiCorp, said in a note, yesterday.
Oil prices received some supports after local health officials in China said yesterday that four provinces had lowered their virus emergency response measures.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, said on Sunday that the world’s largest energy consumer would adjust policy to help cushion the blow to the economy from the virus outbreak.
Goldman Sachs said commodity prices could fall sharply before Chinese stimulus efforts later this year helps the sector achieve its 12-month return forecast of about 10%.
“The promise of stimulus has made commodity markets act like equity markets, building up risks of a sharp correction,” the bank said in a note.
In the United States, the oil rig count rose for a third straight week. Drillers added one oil rig last week, bringing the total count to 679, the highest since the week of December 20, energy services firm, Baker Hughes Co said.
By: Taneh Beemene
NSCDC Parades Five Suspects Over 24,000 Litres Of AGO
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) last Friday paraded five suspected oil thieves caught with over 24,000 litres of illegally refined Automotive Gasoline Oil (AGO) concealed in sack bags in Rivers State.
Rivers State Commandant of NSCDC, Michael Besong Ogar, while parading the suspects, reiterated that there was no room for illegal oil bunkering activities in Rivers State, warning that perpetrators would be smoked out of their hideouts.
Ogar said the newly-reconstituted anti-vandal team has made successes in the relentless war against vandalism of oil pipelines and illegal dealings in petroleum products through massive arrests and subsequent prosecution of cases in the court.
“The Commandant General, Ahmed Abubakar Audi, has promised that in a short while there would be a drastic reduction and possible eradication of illegal dealings in petroleum products across the nation
“Our major task is to massively arrest oil pipelines vandals and their sponsors as we take the Anti-vandalism war to the enemies’ domain.
“The nation is losing millions of dollars per barrel due to the increase in pipelines vandalism and illegal oil bunkering, but I can assure you that this menace would be a thing of the past because we are fully committed to the mandate of the Corps’ in safeguarding all critical national assets and infrastructures.
“The suspects will be charged for contravening the Anti-sabotage Act, the Petroleum Act and the Miscellaneous offences Act 2004, laws of the Federation.
“They are: Ifegbu Uche ‘m’ aged 42years, Obinna Ogbonna ‘M’ 42years, Emmanuel Smart ‘m’ 19 years, Lawrence Gibson ‘m’ 35years, and Emeka Desmond ‘m’ 35years, who were arrested while conveying about 24,000 litres of illegally refined AGO concealed in sack bags and carefully packed in a Toyota Sequoia with plate number AbujaGWA386GVA; a Volkswagen Bus with Registration Number: Lagos APP 831 XX, which was intercepted at Abuloma Community in Port Harcourt, a Truck DA1700 with number plate KadunaXE653KA impounded at Abonnema Wharf, and a Ford E- 250 intercepted in Etche respectfully.
“We also intercepted and impounded another short white Mercedes truck with unquantified litres of illegally refined AGO along Ozuoba-Rumuigbo axis in Obio/Akpor LGA, Port Harcourt Rivers State.
“We are very excited that the court has resumed session as the suspects would definitely have their time in Court while application for forfeitures of the products and mode of conveyance would be made and proceeds be remitted in the Federal Government coffers,” NSCDC said.
Eni Decries Production Loss From Bayelsa Gas Pipeline Explosion
Eni, the Italian parent company to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), has said the impact of the Ogboinbiri/OB-OB gas pipeline explosion on gas output was significant.
Production data from NAOC shows that the incident cut Agip’s gas exports by 5million standard cubic meters per day.
Media Relations Manager, in charge of African Operations at Eni, Mr Domenico Spins, said the gas leak has been brought under control.
Spins in a statement announced that the incident was caused by sabotage and third-party interference.
“Eni confirms that a third party’s interference hacksaw cut caused a gas leak at the Ogbainbiri-Ob/Ob gas pipeline.
“The line is depressurised and is currently being repaired. Production losses due to the shutdown are important,” Eni stated.
The Director-General of the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Dr Idris Musa, who confirmed the pipeline blast, said the agency would lead an investigation into the incident as soon as it is safe to do so.
NOSDRA had also directed NAOC to shut down the oil and gas wells feeding the breached pipeline to extinguish the pressure and pave the way for a Joint Investigative Visit.
FG Confiscates 20m Litres Of Illegally Refined AGO
The Federal Government says the continued efforts by security agencies has led to the confiscation of over 20.2million litres of illegally refined Automotive Gasolme Oil (AGO), otherwise known as diesel.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this in Port Harcourt while carrying out an aerial survey of illegal refinery sites and hotspots along the Nembe Creek Trunk Line and the Trans-Niger Pipelines’ right of way on Friday.
Mohammed said over 210 suspects have been arrested in its efforts to combat crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region, lamenting that the activities of vandals and economic saboteurs have severely impacted the country’s crude oil production.
The Minister said over 461,000 litres of Premium Motor Spirit, 843,000 litres of Dual-Purpose Kerosene, and 383,000 barrels of crude oil have also been confiscated.
He said an additional 365 illegal refining sites were destroyed, with about 1,054 refining ovens, 1,210 metal storage tanks, 838 dugout pits, and 346 reservoirs also destroyed.
“Since the post-covid pandemic recovery of crude oil prices, Nigeria has been unable to meet its OPEC Production quota, hurting the Nigerian economy.
“Due to the nefarious activities of vandals, Nigeria has been losing out on producing approximately 700,000 Barrels of oil daily. This volume is split between crude stolen and production deferment (shut-ins) due to legitimate fear of losing substantial volumes in transit.
“Terminal receipts have persistently declined, leading to decisions such as the Force Majure declared at the Bonny Oil and Gas Terminal in March 2022,” he said.
The Minister also disclosed that the NNPC Ltd had set up a new security architecture to serve as a solid response to detect, deter, and respond to the activities of vandals.
He said the security architecture leveraged collaboration between the Upstream operators, Industry Regulators, Government Security Agencies, and Private Security Contractors.
He further said NNPC Ltd.’s Command and Control Centre has been set up for round-the-clock monitoring of petroleum operations and activities within the Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone.
According to him, all vessel movements within the Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone as well as all Ship-to-ship activities within the same zone are now monitored.
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