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Crude Oil Prices Whipsaw in September Following Attacks on Infrastructure

US crude oil inventories continue to climb due to a rising trend in US production

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Crude Oil, Prices, Attacks
The wild ride in September has now been replaced by a slow trend lower. Pixabay

Crude oil prices lost ground in the Q3 declining by more than 7%. The wild ride in September has now been replaced by a slow trend lower. US crude oil inventories continue to climb due to a rising trend in US production. This comes despite a knee jerk spike in prices during September, following an attack on the main Saudi Arabian crude oil production infrastructure. It’s unlikely that oil prices will be able to gain traction when economic growth is contracting.

The Saudi’s Were Attacked

On September 14, Saudi Arabia was attacked. Rocket strikes hit their oil infrastructure, pushing prices up more than 14% in one day. It was the largest one day increase in oil prices in decades. Saudi Arabia announced that more than 5% of the worlds crude oil production had been sidelined. By Tuesday, September 17, the kingdom announced they would have all their production up by November. By the end of the Q3, it now appears that all the oil production that was taken offline is now back up and running. The initial reports suggesting it could take months for production to return to normal, were inaccurate which put downward pressure on prices.

Crude Oil prices continued to fall on the first day of the Q4 as Saudi Arabia agreed to a partial ceasefire in Yemen. Houthi rebels said that the attacks on the Saudi’s would stop if the Kingdom stopped targeting its positions with air strikes.

Crude Oil, Prices, Attacks
Crude oil prices lost ground in the Q3 declining by more than 7%. Pixabay

Inventories Continue to Rise

US commercial crude oil inventories increased, more than expected according to a report from the Department of Energy. Inventories have been rising due to production in the US climbing to 12.5 million barrels a day. Stockpiles rose by 3.1 million barrels from the previous week, according to the EIA. At 422.6 million barrels, US crude oil inventories are at the five-year average for this time of year. 

Gasoline inventories edged lower and are now 3% above the five-year average for this time of year. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 2.4 million barrels last week declining more than expected but remain 8% above the 5-year average according to the Energy Information Administration. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased last week by 0.9 million barrels last week. 

US Demand is Rising

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Despite a decline in total global economic output, demand for oil products in the United States remains on the rise. According to the US Department of Energy, Total product demand over the last month averaged 20.9 million barrels per day, up by 2.1% year over year. Over the past month gasoline demand averaged 9.3 million barrels per day, down by 0.1% from the same period last year. Distillate fuel demand averaged 3.9 million barrels per day over the past month down by 0.6% from the same period last year. Jet fuel demand was down 4.2% year over year. 

The outlook for demand continues to slide. While the US is growing at approximately 2% year over year, it appears that Europe and Asia are contracting. There is a good chance that German growth will contract in the Q3, putting Europe’s largest economy into recession. It’s unlikely that oil prices will be able to gain traction when economic growth is contracting.

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VandaTheGod: Researchers Identify Super Hacker With 4,820 Records of Hacked Websites

VandaTheGod is said to hack governments, corporations and individuals

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VandaTheGod
A super hacker with the name of VandaTheGod was identified by researchers. Pixabay

A super hacker by the name of VandaTheGod who hacked governments, corporations and individuals alike since 2013 has been linked with high certainty to a specific Brazilian individual from the city of Uberlandia.

Researchers at Isreali cybersecurity firm Check Point said they have relayed the findings to law enforcement agencies to enable them to take further action, adding that adding the social media activities on profiles associated with VandaTheGod came to a halt towards the end of 2019.

Since 2013, many official websites belonging to governments worldwide were hacked and defaced by an attacker who self-identified as ‘VandaTheGod.’

The hacker targeted governments in numerous countries, including: Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Thailand, Vietnam, and New Zealand.

“Many of the messages left on the defaced websites implied that the attacks were motivated by anti-government sentiment, and were carried out to combat social injustices that the hacker believed were a direct result of government corruption,” Check Point said on Thursday.

VandaTheGod didn’t just go after government websites, but also launched attacks against public figures, universities, and even hospitals.

VandaTheGod
Super hacker VandaTheGod had a personal goal to hack 5,000 websites. Pixabay

In one case, the attacker claimed to have access to the medical records of 1 million patients from New Zealand, which were offered for sale for just $200.

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“Most of VandaTheGod’s attacks against governments were politically motivated, but a closer look at some of tweets shows the attacker also trying to achieve a personal goal: hacking a total of 5,000 websites,” said researchers.

The goal was nearly reached, as there are currently 4,820 records of hacked websites linked to VandaTheGod.

“VandaTheGod has proven with numerous successful attacks against reputable websites, that hacktivism often crosses a line into further criminal activity, such as credentials and payment-card theft,” said Check Point. (IANS)

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ICMR Writes to States and UTs for Reducing Corona Testing Prices

The letter which dated May 25, told Chief Secretaries of all States and UTs to fix a price for the test

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ICMR
A team of ICMR is shown in the above photo. Wikimedia Commons

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Wednesday wrote to all states and Union Territories about reducing the price for conducting the test for the diagnosis of COVID-19, according to Covid-19 pandemic in India updates.

In a letter, dated May 25, the Director General of the ICMR Balram Bhargava told Chief Secretaries of all States and UTs that since the testing supplies are stabilizing and are being locally procured as against the earlier situation when all supplies were imported, the states should negotiate with private labs and fix a price for the test.

“The earlier suggested upper ceiling of Rs 4,500, vide letter dated March 17 may not be applicable now and, therefore, all state governments/UT administrations are advised to negotiate with the private labs and fix mutual agreeable price for samples being sent by the government also for private individuals desirous of testing by these labs,” said Bhargava.

covid-19 ICMR
All these development have led to evolved prices of the testing commodities. Pixabay

Speaking to IANS the PRO of the ICMR said, “Fixing the price for the test is up to states already. In the initial stages of the corona breakout, there was a crisis of the testing kits and reagents as we relied heavily on import. Keeping in view the efforts and cost of the procurement, the ICMR suggested the upper limit of the test at Rs 4,500. But the situation has changed now. The states can now negotiate and bring the prices down.”

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The letter also mentioned how India ramped up the testing infrastructure along with indigenious development, validation of new testing platforms like TrueNat based test for COVID-19 and including alternative testing platforms like CBNAAT/GeneXpert and Abott HIV viral load testing machines besides validation and production of testing kits for RT-PCR tests.

All these development have led to evolved prices of the testing commodities. Therefore the earlier suggested upper ceiling may not be applicable now, it added. (IANS)

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US CFTC Warns About Volatile Crude Oil Contracts

US Futures regulator cautions on volatile crude oil contracts

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CFTC
CFTC has warned market participants about the negative pricing of crude oil. Pixabay

According to International News, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has warned market participants to be prepared that certain commodity contracts may see possibly negative pricing and extreme volatility in the light the negative pricing of crude oil seen last month.

The CFTC has issued an advisory on risk management and market integrity under the current market conditions in the wake of the unusually high volatility and negative pricing experienced in the May 2020 West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude oil futures contract on April 20 (the penultimate day of trading and expiration of the contract).

The Commission has emphasised that the subject of this advisory applies equally to trading in other commodities and the registrants should remain vigilant.

The CFTC
The CFTC has issued an advisory on risk management and market integrity under the current market conditions in the wake of the unusually high volatility and negative pricing. Pixabay

The CFTA said that the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic has adversely affected the economies of the US and other major countries.

Read More: Private Companies Now Allowed to Take Part in Planetary Exploration: Finance Minister

Global markets, including those regulated by the CFTC, have been affected by both fundamental and global factors this year as economies and industries have slowed down dramatically or shut down completely, resulting in unprecedented market impacts.

This economic downturn has coincided with substantially increased market volatility in key agricultural, energy and financial sectors, including the futures and options on futures markets regulated by the Commission, it said.

The impact of fundamental and technical factors has been particularly acute for contracts that call for physical delivery of the underlying commodity as demonstrated by the unprecedented price movements in certain commodities, the Commission said. (IANS)