USA benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude ended Thursday's trading session down $1.10, or 1.6%, to $68.65 a barrel, rebounding from a one-month low at $68.47/Bbl earlier in the session, Kallanish Energy reports. This time last week Brent was trading at $83.57 per barrel. The spread flipped into contango on Thursday for the first time since May.
Tankers carrying some 22 million barrels of Iranian crude are on their way to the Chinese port of Dalian, Reuters reports, citing ship-tracking data, and noting this is a record-high amount of crude from Iran to be received by Chinese clients amid falling imports to other large clients, such as Japan and South Korea.
However, while the stocks data helped encourage sellers who argue that fears about supply tightness are overblown, the controversy over the disappearance in Istanbul of prominent Saudi critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi kept concerns about geopolitical uncertainty to the fore.
President Donald Trump said on Thursday he presumes missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead and that the USA response to Saudi Arabia will likely be "very severe" but that he still wanted to get to the bottom of what exactly happened.
Khashoggi disappeared two weeks ago after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and U.S. and Turkish press reports have suggested he was killed. The losses are expected to continue, but few analysts really believe the Trump administration will manage to cut Iran's exports to zero. As the week started, investors were focused on the ongoing tensions between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Trump told reporters Thursday that his administration is waiting for the result of investigations as it decides how to respond amid reports that US -based journalist Khashoggi was ambushed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago. However, Saudi Arabia has assured the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that is "committed, capable, and willing" to ensure there will be no shortage in the oil market, OPEC's secretary-general said on Wednesday.
The Islamic Republic has previously stored oil at Dalian during the last round of sanctions in 2014.
Undermining the strong refinery data, China did on Friday report its weakest economic growth since 2009 in the third quarter, with gross domestic product expanding by only 6.5 per cent, missing estimates.
In the end, it should be noted that it is hard to forecast oil price trends, in spite of sanctions on Iran approaching deadline.
"There is no problem on this issue", Kardor was quoted as saying by Iran's ISNA news agency.
The United States is preparing to impose the new sanctions on Iran's oil industry after Washington withdrew from a nuclear deal between Tehran and other global powers earlier this year, but is also considering offering waivers to some allies that rely on Iranian supplies.