US oil prices hovered near eight-month highs just below US$29 yesterday as the market predicted further shrinkage of the US crude supply cushion and pondered a possible supply crunch at the end of the year. \nUS light crude rose US$0.28 in Asia to US$28.66 a barrel, extending Monday's US$0.39 rise in New York. Prices are at the highest level since mid-September, having gained more than US$2.20 in the past five trading days. \nWeekly US fuel stocks figures scheduled to be released later yesterday are expected to show a drop in national crude inventories of about 2.5 million barrels, taking levels into a year-on-year deficit for the first timethis year. \nThe American Petroleum Institute report comes a day after the West's energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency (IEA), predicted that oil supplies could tighten significantly in the next six months and inventories could plunge dangerously low if the OPEC cartel maintained its supply curbs. \n"We're facing a situation in the latter part of the 2002 not unlike year 2000, when OPEC was in a position of having to unwind quotas to prevent too tight an oil balance," said Michael Rothman, senior energy specialist at Merrill Lynch, in a daily market comment. \nThe IEA warned that current production by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries could cause stocks to fall dangerously low by September if supply curbs by the cartel coincided with a strong upswing in demand, as in 1999 after the Asian economic crisis. \n"If producers keep output flat, the consequence is a significant stock drop and we have seen this happen before," said Klaus Rehaag, editor of the report, recalling 1999 when shrinking stocks led oil prices spiking above US$35, the highest in a decade. \nThe IEA said OPEC production fell to its lowest level since June 1993 in April because Iraq suspended exports for a month in protest of Israel's military incursions into Palestinian areas. \nHaving slashed output by almost 20 percent since the start of 2001, some OPEC ministers have signalled that there is unlikely to be any rise in group output at a meeting set for June.
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
WORKING OVERTIME? NTU professor Lee Duu-jong denied that he had held a part-time position at a Chinese university or joined China’s Thousand Talents Program A candidate for the post of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) president yesterday dropped out of the race following a report questioning his links to Chinese academia and government programs. Lee Duu-jong (李篤中), a professor at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) chemical engineering department, was a member of China’s Changjiang Scholars’ Program in 2006 and was on the list of its Thousand Talents Program in 2017, a report by Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine said yesterday. The article said that Lee is suspected of having held a part-time job at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and was the recipient
A Taiwanese bird protection group yesterday said that it has been kicked out of BirdLife International — a global conservation partnership — after it refused to sign a statement saying it would never advocate independence. The Taipei-based Chinese Wild Bird Federation said that BirdLife International last week voted to remove it, ending a partnership that had been in place since 1996. Over the past 20 years, the federation has changed its English name three times to satisfy BirdLife International, and recently the international group demanded that it change its Chinese name and sign a statement that it is “formally committing to not