Iraq, UAE and Saudi Arabia take bigger slice of US crude market, EIA says

Opec was the big market share winner as US crude oil imports rose in the first half of the year and for the first time since 2010.

The US government’s Energy Information Agency reported that overall imports rose by 7 per cent, or 528,000 barrels per day, up to June, with Nigeria and Iraq taking the largest share of the increase.

The EIA also reported that commercial crude oil stockpiles fell sharply last week, which helped propel oil prices higher yesterday, with world benchmark North Sea Brent gaining about 50 cents to an intraday high of US$52.32, up about 14 per cent since last week when Opec said it would try to reach a deal by the end of November to curb output.

“This increase reverses a multiyear trend of decreasing crude oil imports as a result of increasing US production,” the EIA said in its latest report on the industry.

Imports from Nigeria, Iraq and other members of Opec rose by 504,000 bpd, while imports from neighbouring Mexico fell by 118,000 bpd. But the higher imports have mostly displaced US domestic production, particularly from the shale oil sector, which fell to about 8.5 million bpd last month from a peak last summer of 9.6 million bpd.

The main factor behind the US output decline has been the collapse in oil price, in which Brent crude fell from about $115 a barrel in late 2014 to as low as $29 a barrel earlier this year – a 74 per cent fall – making a large number of shale producers unprofitable.

But the EIA also attributed the rising imports partly to changes in US law, which allowed domestic producers to export oil for the first time in 40 years.

“The narrowing differences between certain US crudes [prices] and international benchmarks provided an incentive for increased imports by refiners in areas where imported crudes now had a delivered cost advantage relative to domestic crudes of comparable quality,” the EIA said.

The Nigerian crude mostly went to refiners on the US east coast, such as the big refining hub in New Jersey, where ExxonMobil and others have large plants. That helped reverse a trend whereby US imports of Nigerian crude had fallen to 7,000 bpd during the first half of last year from more than 1 million bpd in 2010. Imports have risen in the first six months of this year to 186,000 bpd.

Imports from the Arabian Gulf have increased by 47 per cent over the last year, to 1.8 million bpd in July from a low last August of 1.2 million bpd, with the biggest increase from Iraq, followed by Saudi Arabia. The UAE exports most of its crude to Asia but it increased oil exports to the US this year by about 1 million barrels up to July, to 2.2 million barrels.

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New process leads to panic among jobseekers

As a UAE-based travel agent who processes tourist visas from the Philippines, Jennifer Pacia Gado is fielding a lot of calls from concerned travellers just now. And they are all asking the same question.  

“My clients are mostly Filipinos, and they [all want to know] about good conduct certificates,” says the 34-year-old Filipina, who has lived in the UAE for five years.

Ms Gado contacted the Philippines Embassy to get more information on the certificate so she can share it with her clients. She says many are worried about the process and associated costs – which could be as high as Dh500 to obtain and attest a good conduct certificate from the Philippines for jobseekers already living in the UAE. 

“They are worried about this because when they arrive here without the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] clearance, it is a hassle because it takes time,” she says.

“They need to go first to the embassy to apply for the application of the NBI clearance. After that they have go to the police station [in the UAE] for the fingerprints. And then they will apply for the special power of attorney so that someone can finish the process in the Philippines. So it is a long process and more expensive if you are doing it from here.”

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
How to invest in gold

Investors can tap into the gold price by purchasing physical jewellery, coins and even gold bars, but these need to be stored safely and possibly insured.

A cheaper and more straightforward way to benefit from gold price growth is to buy an exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Most advisers suggest sticking to “physical” ETFs. These hold actual gold bullion, bars and coins in a vault on investors’ behalf. Others do not hold gold but use derivatives to track the price instead, adding an extra layer of risk. The two biggest physical gold ETFs are SPDR Gold Trust and iShares Gold Trust.

Another way to invest in gold’s success is to buy gold mining stocks, but Mr Gravier says this brings added risks and can be more volatile. “They have a serious downside potential should the price consolidate.”

Mr Kyprianou says gold and gold miners are two different asset classes. “One is a commodity and the other is a company stock, which means they behave differently.”

Mining companies are a business, susceptible to other market forces, such as worker availability, health and safety, strikes, debt levels, and so on. “These have nothing to do with gold at all. It means that some companies will survive, others won’t.”

By contrast, when gold is mined, it just sits in a vault. “It doesn’t even rust, which means it retains its value,” Mr Kyprianou says.

You may already have exposure to gold miners in your portfolio, say, through an international ETF or actively managed mutual fund.

You could spread this risk with an actively managed fund that invests in a spread of gold miners, with the best known being BlackRock Gold & General. It is up an incredible 55 per cent over the past year, and 240 per cent over five years. As always, past performance is no guide to the future.


Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends


Stage 5:

1. Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) Team Jumbo-Visma  04:19:08

2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates  00:00:03

3. Adam Yates (GBR) Ineos Grenadiers

4. Sergio Higuita (COL) EF Education-Nippo 00:00:05

5. Joao Almeida (POR) Deceuninck-QuickStep 00:00:06

General Classification:

1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates 17:09:26

2.  Adam Yates (GBR) Ineos Grenadiers 00:00:45

3. Joao Almeida (POR) Deceuninck-QuickStep 00:01:12

4. Chris Harper (AUS) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:01:54

5. Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo 00:01:56


Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

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