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Michael Kern

Michael Kern

Michael Kern is a newswriter and editor at Safehaven.com and Oilprice.com, 

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Bullish Sentiment Is Slowly Building In Oil Markets


Oil prices have been slowly moving higher in recent weeks as bullish sentiment begins to build on the back of Saudi Arabia's supply cut and Russia's pledge to cut its oil exports.

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- China’s attempts to boost domestic industrial production are increasingly showing the limits of government stimulus despite international agencies such as OPEC or IEA continuing to bet on strong Chinese demand growth in H2 2023. 

- The year-on-year growth of broad money, known as M2 supply, has risen to 11.6% in most recent data readings, the highest since 2016, but China’s PPI index has been falling for 11 months in a row, indicating the stimulus is not really boosting industrial production. 

- Hamstrung by a youth unemployment rate of 20.8% and declining property prices that exacerbate the pains of the construction sector, China’s economy must rely on industrial exports which are also turning negative as buyers across the Atlantic Basin confront their own recessionary concerns. 

- The combination of a flat CPI index and falling PPI, aggravated by an ailing property sector and little external help from exports, have been hindering the commodity impact of China’s fiscal stimulus.  

Market Movers

- US power company Dominion Energy (NYSE:D) agreed to sell its 50% stake in the Cove Point LNG terminal in Chesapeake Bay to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK) for $3.3 billion in cash, taking the latter’s ownership to 75%. 

- Without drawing much attention, global commodities trader Trafigura increased its stake in Italian oil refiner Saras (BIT:SRS) to 13.52%, the second time this year that it buys up a huge market share. 

- French oil major TotalEnergies (NYSE:TTE) launched production at its Absheron gas field co-owned with SOCAR, sending the 1.5 bcm per year of natural gas to be produced to the domestic market. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Oil prices have marginally moved beyond the $72-77 per barrel range for Brent and $67-72 per barrel for WTI, and there is a growing sense that the market is starting to feel Saudi Arabia’s production cuts and Russia’s export curbs. Hedge fund net positioning in the ICE Brent contract went up by the equivalent of 25 MMbbls last week, the largest week-on-week build in two months, pointing at a potential short-term pricing upside. 

UAE Refuses to Commit to Voluntary Cuts. As Saudi Arabia extended its 1 million b/d production cut into August and is widely expected to do the same into September, the United Arab Emirates announced it would not join its OPEC peer and that Riyadh’s cuts are enough to balance markets.

Mexican Oil Disaster Hard to Contain. Mexico’s national oil company Pemex estimates that the fire that broke out at its Nohoch-A platform and spread to the strategic Cantarell compression complex - causing the death of three people in the process - has led to the loss of 700,000 barrels of crude oil production so far. 

US-EU Minerals Pact Coming By End-2023. According to senior US officials, a deal between the United States and the European Union to allow critical minerals mined or processed in Europe, including lithium and graphite, to be compatible with US tax breaks will be signed by end-2023.

Norway Lauds Largest Condensate Find in Years. Norwegian upstream firm DNO (OSL:DNO) announced a major gas and condensate discovery at its Carmen prospect in the Norwegian Continental shelf, the largest condensate find in decades with 120-230 mmboe of reserves. 

Iran Accuses US of Shielding Fuel Smugglers. Less than a week has passed since Iran tried to intercept a US-bound tanker chartered by Chevron (NYSE:CVX), Tehran now accused the US Navy of defending fuel smuggling in the Gulf as another tanker was seized despite US aircraft interference. 

HRW Attacks Total’s Uganda Project. Human Rights Watch claimed that the planned East African Crude Oil Pipeline led by TotalEnergies (NYSE:TTE) will devastate thousands of lives of people that have received inadequate compensation for their land, adding to the overall pressure on Uganda’s upstream projects. 

Kuwait to Speed Up Development of Disputed Field. As Kuwait and Saudi Arabia move closer to jointly developing the Durra gas field in the Gulf, Kuwait’s Oil Minister Saad al Barrak called on Iranian authorities to demarcate their maritime borders before claiming joint ownership of the asset.  


Fukushima Water Release Triggers IAEA. Japan’s plan to release treated radioactive water from its Fukushima nuclear plant has kept the IAEA on its toes as South Korea criticized the UN body’s findings and China threatened legal action if the plans moved ahead as currently planned. 

Venezuela’s Opposition Wants to Redraw Export Map. Venezuela’s opposition is now suggesting that the Latin American country should redirect 200,000 b/d of its exports to a selected trustee to pay a group of creditors, as Caracas fights tooth and nail to retain Citgo as its key asset.

Satisfying No One, IMO Revised Its Emissions Strategy. As the International Maritime Organization revised its greenhouse gas emissions strategy and adopted a 2050 net zero target after 5 years of protracted negotiations, with developing nations voicing their dissatisfaction over potential fines if countries fail to deliver. 

South Sudan Postpones Oil Expansion. As South Sudan’s oil industry struggles to bounce back from the ongoing war in Sudan, the country has postponed its long-term production growth of 230,000 b/d by at least two years to 2026, yet oil field flooding and lack of investment remain structural shortfalls. 

Falling Rhine Levels Scare Central Europe. Falling water levels on the Rhine River in Germany are increasing freight costs across Germany and increasing the likelihood of supply shortages as levels at the Kaub chokepoint stand at 105 cm currently and are expected to fall below 1 m by the end of this week, allowing for only half-loaded cargoes. 

Iron Ore Lives Through Worst Day of 2023. Depressed by weak Chinese domestic demand and steel output curbs, the two key Asian iron ore futures in Dalian and Singapore recorded their worst day in 2023 so far on Monday, falling by almost 4% on the day to $109 per metric tonne.

By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on July 11 2023 said:
    Since early this year I have been virtually saying nonstop that the weakness in oil prices has nothing to do with market fundamentals or China’s economy and virtually everything to do with fears of US banking difficulties triggering a global banking or financial crisis and more hikes by the US Federal bank precipitating a collapse of more US banks. Therefore, Saudi Arabia’s voluntary production cut and Russia’s oil export cut weren’t necessary.

    If bullish sentiment is slowly building up in oil markets, it means that markets are now downplaying these fears.

    Alternatively, it could also mean that high rates of growth and minimal inflation in the China-led Asia Pacific region coupled with the robustness of global oil demand are starting to overpower these fears.

    Either way, it is a welcome development.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert
  • George Doolittle on July 11 2023 said:
    *"And in other news New Mexico is laughing all the way to the Bank"* speaking of no Banking Crisis in the USA for wholesale monies. Fancy way of saying "yes the USA will simply print more cash" this is true but who's money is it anyways again?

    Certainly not Morgan Stanley's money would be an understatement.

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