Oil Drops as China Considers Intervention to Ease Coal Crunch

By Reuters
Reuters
Reuters
October 20, 2021 Updated: October 20, 2021

LONDON—Oil prices fell on Wednesday after the Chinese regime stepped up efforts to tame record high coal prices and ensure coal mines operate at full capacity as Beijing moved to ease a power shortage.

Brent crude futures dropped 73 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $84.35 a barrel at 10:03 GMT, paring a 75 cent rise in the previous session, but still lingering close to multi-year highs.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for November, which expires on Wednesday, fell 68 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $82.28 a barrel. The more active WTI contract for December was down 80 cents, or 1 percent, to $81.64 a barrel.

China is planning to take steps to combat the steep rises in the domestic coal market … which could put considerable pressure on the coal price there and reverse the fuel switch to oil,” Commerzbank said.

Prices for Chinese coal and other commodities slumped in early trade, which in turn pulled oil down from an uptick earlier in the day.

The Chinese regime’s National Development and Reform Commission said on Tuesday it would bring coal prices back to a reasonable range and clamp down on what it called irregularities that disturb market order or speculation on thermal coal futures.

Oil markets in general remain supported on the back of a global coal and gas crunch, which has driven a switch to diesel and fuel oil for power generation.

But the market on Wednesday was also pressured by data from the American Petroleum Institute industry group which showed U.S. crude stocks rose by 3.3 million barrels for the week ended Oct. 15, according to market sources.

That was well above nine analysts’ forecasts for a rise of 1.9 million barrels in crude stocks, in a Reuters poll.

However, U.S. gasoline and distillate inventories, which include diesel, heating oil, and jet fuel, fell much more than analysts had expected, pointing to strong demand.

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration is due later on Wednesday.

By Ahmad Ghaddar

Reuters