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UPDATE 4-Oil steady as China's plans to boost U.S. imports counters tensions

Mon, 17th Aug 2020 05:33

* China plans to ship more U.S. oil in Aug-Sept

* OPEC+ ministerial panel to meet on Aug. 19

* Iran: OPEC has raised and stabilised crude oil price
(Updates prices, adds graphic)

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

LONDON, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Oil prices steadied on Monday as
news that China planned to ship large volumes of U.S. crude in
August and September countered rising tensions between the two
countries and a delay in the review of their trade pact over the
weekend.

Brent crude was down 13 cents, or 0.3%, to $44.67 a
barrel by 1048 GMT, and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude
was down 4 cents, or 0.1%, to $41.97 a barrel.

The emergence of new coronavirus hot spots particularly in
Europe also put pressure on fuel demand and oil prices, analysts
said, while a weak dollar lent some support.

"Clearly the market is not tightening as quickly as
initially anticipated. Demand is taking longer than expected to
get back to normal levels," ING Group said.

Market sentiment soured after the United States and China
delayed a review of their Phase 1 trade deal initially slated
for Saturday, citing scheduling conflicts.

However, in a positive signal, Chinese state-owned oil firms
have tentatively booked tankers to transport at least 20 million
barrels of U.S. crude for August and September.

Investors are also looking for more clues on future supply
from a meeting this week of a panel representing ministers of
the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its
allies, a group known as OPEC+.

The Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) monitors
OPEC+ production curbs agreed earlier this year. Last month, the
JMMC recommended that cuts be eased from Aug. 1 to about 7.7
million barrels per day (bpd) from a reduction of 9.7 million
bpd since May, in line with an earlier OPEC+ agreement.

Iran's oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh said "OPEC's performance
has been successful because the price of oil has risen from $16
in May to around $45 and has stabilised."

ANZ estimated that demand had risen 8 million barrels per
day (bpd) over the past four months to 88 million bpd - still 13
million bpd below this time last year.

In the United States the number of oil and natural gas rigs
operating last week remained anchored at a record low for a 15th
week, even as higher oil prices prompt some producers to start
drilling again.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, additional reporting by
Florence Tan in Singapore; editing by David Evans)

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