Oil prices stayed near historic peaks at US$51 a barrel in Asian trading yesterday as analysts warned US$60 was "within reach" if the northern winter turns out colder than expected. \nAt 3:50pm, the benchmark light sweet crude for November delivery was at US$50.97 a barrel, down from its record close of US$51.09 at the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday. \n"If the winter turns out to be colder than anticipated, the markets will run," said Esa Ramasamy, director for Asian oil markets reporting at Platts, an energy agency whose analyses are widely used as benchmarks for international spot trading. \n"If this happens, you will see 55 dollars as not a problem any more. It becomes a reality and US$60 dollars is within reach,"Ramasamy said. \nThe winter months in the northern hemisphere traditionally drive up demand for kerosene and diesel, which are used for heating. \nRamasamy said refineries have already started building up their inventories for diesel and kerosene, leading to a sharp rise in demand. \n"No refinery will keep low on inventories in winter. And because the refining margin is so good, every refinery is running full capacity, and once that happens there is a natural demand for crude," he said. \nOn the flip side, Ramasamy said a warmer than expected winter should cause prices to fall due to the high level of inventories. \nNg Weng Hong, editor of industry publication EnergyAsia.com, agreed that a colder winter than expected will further drive prices up, with the continued violence in Iraq and other potential disruptions to oil supplies contributing to the volatility. \n"It's going to go up, it's going to be one-way traffic," he said. \n"I think the immediate target is US$55 but whether we hit it or not is another matter," he said. \n"Winter is coming in North America and geopolitical problems have not been solved. All you need is a couple of terrorists to inflict effective damage on a pipeline and this will shake up the market further," he said. \nNg also noted that, even at US$50 a barrel, there has been no let-up in oil demand. \nThe high prices, instead of dampening demand, have sparked panic buying and further pushed prices higher, he added. \n"There are more guys buying because they think it's going to go to US$60 a barrel. Nobody is letting up," he said. \nNg disputed arguments by some analysts that current prices were in reality lower than levels seen during the oil shock in the 1970s and 1980s if inflation was factored in. \n"We're going to be in for a very serious shock. This is giving a lot of false comfort because the conditions now compared with the conditions then are very different," he said. \n"Back in the '70s and '80s, there was no China or India factor to look at. There was a lot of spare capacity then," he said \nChina's huge demand for fuel to power its rapidly growing ecomony is soaking up supply, while more oil is needed to meet the requirements of India's own economic growth, analysts say. \nRamasamy also said speculators had a role to play in driving prices higher.
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
‘HEROIC’: A lack of personal protective equipment has led to high infection rates among health workers in places like Spain and Italy, a nurses’ association said More equipment is needed to protect the world’s nurses working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic to save lives, the head of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) said. “They are heroic. I think there is no other way to describe what they are doing at this moment,” said Howard Catton, a British nurse who is the council’s CEO. Infection rates of 9 percent and 12 to 14 percent have been reported among health workers in Italy and Spain respectively, he said, adding that nurses have died in the two nations, as well as Iran and Indonesia. “We have no doubt
Japan’s ruling party yesterday proposed the nation’s biggest-ever stimulus package of ￥60 trillion (US$554 billion) as the COVID-19 pandemic locks the economy in a recession. The sum includes ￥20 trillion in fiscal measures with private initiatives and other elements likely making up the rest, the proposal by the Liberal Democratic Party showed. More than ￥10 trillion, or the equivalent of a 5 percentage point cut in the sales tax rate, would be handed out to the public in a combination of cash, subsidies and coupons, the plan showed. The proposal puts an initial figure on a stimulus package that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo