Brent crude edged closer to the $60 (SR2225) barrier over the course of the week, finishing at $59.34 per barrel while WTI deteriorated slightly to $54.17 per barrel. Prices remain relatively stable on a week to week basis and continued to move in a narrow band.
Still, oil futures speculators were broad-based sellers last week as the uncertainty over the outlook for global economic growth and future demand continued to take its toll.
US crude oil inventories declined by 2.7 million barrels and the US rig count also slipped below 1,000 for first time since May 2017.
A second drone attack on a Saudi Arabian oil field within three months brought geopolitical risks back into focus, displacing recession worries and concerns about lower oil demand growth.
Even if concerns about an economic recession continued to weigh on crude prices, the US-China trade dispute has shown that this has not hurt demand as much as feared.
Instead, China has chalked up new record levels of oil imports every month.
US President Donald Trump and top White House officials dismissed concerns that US economic growth may be faltering, yet we still see a bearish forward view on the market from OPEC and the International Energy Agency.
That appears largely driven by the view held by some economists that a trade dispute could lead to a global recession that will lead to a drop in oil demand growth, The US Department of State said that sanctions caused Iranian crude exports to fall to about 100,000 bpd in July, down from roughly 2.5 million bpd a year earlier.
By zeroing out these oil exports, the US is disrupting about $50 billion in annual revenue to the Iranian regime. It is also unclear if these remaining barrels are condensate only, which is a kind of ultra-light crude oil that is produced from natural gas fields.
Faisal Faeq is an energy and oil marketing adviser. He was formerly with OPEC and Saudi Aramco. Twitter:@faisalfaeq
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