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Millions of Barrels of Iranian Oil Are Piled Up in China's Ports

21.07.2019 21:12


(Bloomberg) -- Tankers are offloading millions of barrels of Iranian oil into storage tanks at Chinese ports, creating a hoard of crude sitting on the doorstep of the world’s biggest buyer.Two and a half months after the White House banned the purchase of Iran’s oil, the nation’s crude is continuing to be sent to China where it’s being put into what’s known as “bonded storage,” say people familiar with operations at several Chinese ports. This oil doesn’t cross local customs or show up in the nation’s import data and is not necessarily in breach of sanctions. And while it remains out of circulation for now, its presence is looming over the market.The store of oil has the potential to push down global prices if Chinese refiners decide to draw on it, even as Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies curb production amid slowing growth in major economies. It also allows Iran to keep pumping and move its oil nearer to potential buyers.“Iranian oil shipments have been flowing into Chinese bonded storage for some months now, and continue to do so despite increased scrutiny,” said Rachel Yew, an analyst at industry consultant FGE in Singapore. “We can see why the producer would want to do so, as a build-up of supplies near key buyers is clearly beneficial for a seller, especially if sanctions are eased at some point.”See also: Iranian Oil Tanker Daniel Enters Chinese Port: Ship TrackingThere could be more Iranian oil headed for China’s bonded storage tanks, Bloomberg ship-tracking data show. At least ten very-large crude carriers and two smaller tankers owned by the state-run National Iranian Oil Company and its shipping arm are currently sailing toward China or idling off its coast. The vessels have a combined carrying capacity of over 20 million barrels.The bulk of Iranian oil in China’s bonded tanks is still owned by Tehran and therefore not in breach of sanctions, according to the people. The oil hasn’t crossed Chinese customs so it is theoretically in transit.Some of the crude, though, is owned by Chinese entities that may have received it as part of oil-for-investment schemes. For example, a Chinese oil company could have helped fund a production project in Iran under an agreement to be repaid in kind. Whether this sort of transaction is in breach of sanctions isn’t clear, and so the Chinese companies are keeping it in bonded storage to avoid the official scrutiny it would get once it is registered with customs, according to the people.Nobody replied to a faxed inquiry to China’s General Administration of Customs.Lack of ClarityThe build-up of Iranian oil in Chinese bonded storage has yet to be clearly addressed by Washington. The White House ended waivers allowing some countries to keep importing Iranian oil on May 2.There are currently no exemptions issued to any country for the import of Iranian oil, and any nation seen importing cargoes from the Persian Gulf producer will be in breach of sanctions, according to a senior Trump administration official, who asked not to be identified because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter.“The U.S. will now need to define how it quantifies the infringement of sanctions,” said Michal Meidan, director of the China Energy Programme at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. There’s a lack of clarity on whether it would look at “financial transactions or the loading and discharge of cargoes by company or entity,” she said.See also: China Buying Iran LPG Despite Sanctions, Ship-Tracking ShowsChina received about 12 million tons of Iranian crude from January through May, according to ship-tracking data, versus about 10 million that cleared customs over the period. The discrepancy could be due to the flow of oil into bonded storage.One of the Iranian tankers that appears to have loaded oil after the U.S. waivers ended is very-large crude carrier Horse. It discharged at Tianjin in early-July after sailing from the Middle East where shipping data showed it signaling its destination as Iran’s Kharg Island on May 4.Several other Iranian-owned tankers offloaded in China or were heading there, according to ship tracking data. VLCC Stream discharged at Tianjin on June 19, while Amber, Salina and C. Infinity offloaded crude at the ports of Huangdao, Jinzhou and Ningbo. Tankers Snow, Sevin and Maria III were last seen sailing in the direction of China.Putting crude into bonded tanks in China also means Iran can avoid having to tie up part of its tanker fleet by storing the oil at sea for months at a time. The Islamic Republic used floating storage in 2012 to 2016 and again in 2018 as buyers shunned its crude due to U.S.-imposed trade restrictions.Should the Iranian crude leave bonded storage and end up in the market it could pressure oil prices, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. West Texas Intermediate plunged more than 20% from late April to mid-June as the U.S.-China trade war intensified. It’s since recovered some of those losses, partly as a result of the rising tension between Washington and Tehran, and is trading near $56 a barrel.“A further escalation in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods could jointly drive global economic growth a lot lower and encourage Iran-China cooperation,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a June note. “If Chinese refiners start to purchase Iran oil in large volumes on a sustained basis as U.S. tariffs rise again, WTI could drop to $40 a barrel.”--With assistance from Nick Wadhams.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Serene Cheong in Singapore at [email protected];Sarah Chen in Beijing at [email protected];Alfred Cang in Singapore at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Serene Cheong at [email protected], Andrew JanesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Chinese money in the US dries up as trade war drags on

21.07.2019 18:58

July 22, 2019 6:58 AM
WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - Growing distrust between the United States and China has slowed the once steady flow of Chinese cash into America, with Chinese investment plummeting by nearly 90 per cent since President Donald Trump took office.

From: www.straitstimes.com

Trump says minority congresswomen should 'apologise to America'

21.07.2019 17:10

July 22, 2019 5:10 AM
WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Donald Trump renewed his attacks Sunday on four Democratic congresswomen he launched xenophobic tweets against last week, demanding they apologise "for the horrible (hateful) things they have said."

From: www.straitstimes.com

Biden Leads in CBS Democratic Poll but Faces Enthusiasm Gap

21.07.2019 17:08


(Bloomberg) -- Joe Biden remains the top choice among Democratic voters in states that will hold early presidential primary and caucus contests in 2020, as four main contenders emerged as the top tier of the large field, a new CBS News poll showed on Sunday.Biden had 25% support as voters’ first choice for the Democratic nominee, with Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 20% and Kamala Harris of California at 16% gaining ground on the former vice president. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was fourth in the survey with 15% support. No other candidate reached double-digit support in the poll.Biden continued to benefit from his perceived electability against President Donald Trump in the general election, with 75% of likely voters considering voting for him because they think he could beat Trump. Meanwhile, 85% of those considering Biden cited his time as former President Barack Obama’s vice president as a reason for choosing him.Still, there’s an enthusiasm gap for Biden among some primary voters, the poll found. A majority of those surveyed, 56%, said Warren would fight “a great deal” for people like them, and 54% said the same of Sanders. Only 38% described Biden that way.When asked who has been the most “passionate” so far, Warren and Sanders each had 28%, while Biden had just 14%. Warren, who has touted her policy proposals, was seen as the most specific candidate, with 42%, while Harris was seen as the strongest with 32%.Despite recent criticism of Biden by other candidates, 68% of respondents in the poll said they considered his record on race relations good or excellent, with 76% of black voters rating his career positively in that regard. Biden and Harris clashed in the first presidential debates over the former Delaware senator’s opposition to busing in the 1970s.Debate BoostThat debate appeared to have boosted Harris, with 63% of those considering her in the poll saying her performance was a reason they were taking a look at her, while 49% said the same for Warren. Harris and Biden will next face off with eight other candidates on the second night of the presidential primary debates in Detroit on July 31, while Sanders and Warren will be among those appearing on the first night July 30.Harris and Biden are also neck-and-neck in the former’s home state of California, which will award a hefty delegate total. Biden is the first choice of 24% in the most-populous state, with 23% favoring Harris. Biden had a much more comfortable lead in South Carolina, where he has courted the state’s heavily black Democratic voters and focused on his relationship to Obama, the first black president. Biden is the first choice of 39% of respondents in South Carolina, followed by Sanders at 17% and Harris at 12%, the poll showed.Biden also led Sanders as voters’ first choice in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two voting states, according to the CBS poll.The survey also showed ideological splits within the party, even as 61% of respondents described themselves as somewhat or very liberal. Warren is winning among liberal voters, taking 26%, while Biden is carrying moderates and conservatives, according to the poll.According to the survey, 59% would prefer someone who agrees with them on policy, even if that person must forgo civility. Biden does best with those who prefer civility, CBS said.The CBS poll was conducted July 9-18 by YouGov. A sample of 18,550 registered voters were polled in 18 states that will hold Democratic primaries or caucuses before and on March 3, known as Super Tuesday. The sample included 8,760 self-identified Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, and the margin of error was about plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.(Adds additional details from third paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Ros Krasny in Washington at [email protected];Ben Brody in Washington at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Gordon at [email protected], Mark Niquette, Kevin MillerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Events cancelled, warnings issued as heatwave bakes eastern US

21.07.2019 17:00

July 22, 2019 5:00 AM
WASHINGTON • Americans braced themselves for a second - and equally scorching - day of dangerously hot weather yesterday, with daytime temperatures forecast to approach 38 deg C across a number of major US cities.

From: www.straitstimes.com

Washington's new Red Scare: Mistrust of China taking hold

21.07.2019 17:00

July 22, 2019 5:00 AM
WASHINGTON • In a ballroom across from the Capitol, an unlikely group comprising military hawks, populist crusaders, Chinese Muslim freedom fighters and Falungong followers has been meeting to warn anyone who will listen that China poses an existential threat to the US that will not end until the Communist Party is overthrown.

From: www.straitstimes.com

Schiff, House Intelligence chair, says he first learned of Russian attacks on Senate campaigns at a security forum - The Washington Post

21.07.2019 16:47


House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said Saturday that he and his contacts at top intelligence agencies were unaware of Russian ...

From: www.washingtonpost.com

Ex-Comic President Clinches Political Sweep in Ukraine Election

21.07.2019 14:39


(Bloomberg) -- Comedian-turned President Volodymyr Zelenskiy dominated Ukraine’s parliamentary ballot, capitalizing on pledges to crack down on corruption, fix the economy and end the conflict with Russian-backed separatists.Zelenskiy’s party rode a wave of public anger over the lack of progress flushing dirty officials from state institutions. His Servant of the People party -- named after the television show that propelled him to fame -- won a record 44% of the vote, according to an exit poll published after balloting ended Sunday.Like the main character of his show, a teacher who's thrust into the position of head of state, Zelenskiy had no political experience before scoring a landslide win in April’s presidential vote. Since then, support for his party has tripled after he vowed to sweep out a political establishment that has failed to convincingly bring progress to the country of 42 million people since it ousted a Kremlin-backed leader five years ago.“We will not let Ukrainians down,” Zelenskiy, 41, said after declaring victory. “For us, the main things are to end the war, to secure the return of prisoners and to win the fight against corruption.”Zelenskiy invited the two-month-old Holos party led by Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, the country’s most popular rock singer, to join him in coalition talks. Holos got 6.3%, according to the exit poll, which covered results for the party lists that will fill half of the assembly’s 450 seats.“People voted for changes and we are glad to be part of those changes,” Vakarchuk said. “Our red lines are very clear: We won’t speak to those who are against a course toward Europe, it’s key that the law is the same for everyone, and third is a free economy without oligarchs -- the authorities should be accountable to the people.”Voters punished more traditional parties, including that of former President Petro Poroshenko and ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who got 8.9% and 7.6%, according to the survey by three polling agencies. More than two thirds of the vote went to forces that support closer ties with the European Union and NATO.The former Soviet republic also cast ballots for individual candidates -- some backed by parties, some independent -- in single-seat constituencies that are being contested by oligarchs, sports stars, and showbiz celebrities, potentially complicating Zelenskiy’s promise to overhaul Ukraine. Partial results are expected starting early on Monday, with full data to be released later this week.“The way Zelenskiy has behaved in recent month inspires trust,” 39-year-old Oleksiy Voitsekhivskyi, a doctor in Kiev, said after voting. “I have only bad words to describe how the old parliament worked. That’s why I want new faces to adopt anti-corruption laws so that finally corrupt people will be in jail.”Zelenskiy said that, for f prime minister, he wanted to appoint a “professional economist” respected in Ukraine and in the West who hasn’t held that job or led a party. That fits the description of former Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk, who has expressed interest, and former Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius.After the outgoing parliament blocked Zelenskiy’s efforts to pass anti-corruption laws, the president has rejected the idea of a tie-up with Poroshenko’s party. Support for political forces sympathetic to Russia was 11.5%, slightly more than five years ago. For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the two countries will mend ties despite the conflict, according to the transcript of a June 19 interview with American film director Oliver Stone.“Rapprochement is inevitable,” Putin said.Some concerns remain over how successful Zelenskiy will be in affecting change. Most candidates in Servant of the People are political neophytes and some of his appointments, as well as business links to billionaire Igor Kolomoisky, whose television channel airs his shows, have drawn criticism that he won’t be able to escape the orbit of the all-powerful oligarchs.Zelenskiy has pledged to revoke automatic immunity from prosecution for lawmakers and to step up anti-corruption efforts after the previous administration adopted laws only under intense pressure from voters and foreign creditors.He has also promised to renew cooperation with the International Monetary Fund. The Washington-based lender repeatedly held back financial assistance from Poroshenko’s administration due to its failure to push measures through the assembly, known as the Rada, to restructure the economy and fight graft.“I see the political will, but there are many obstacles,” said Balazs Jarabik, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Much will depend how Zelenskiy and his team can manage the state and the Rada differently than Poroshenko did.”(Updates with Zelenskiy’s comment in third paragraph, Vakarchuk in sixth.)--With assistance from Yulia Surkova and Kateryna Choursina.To contact the reporters on this story: Volodymyr Verbyany in Kiev at [email protected];Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at [email protected], Michael WinfreyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Teenage Brexit Party official says he helped expose US ambassador cables that enraged Donald Trump

21.07.2019 14:00


Scotland Yard risked being dragged into a politically charged row over Sir Kim Darroch’s emails after a teenager working for the Brexit Party said he was the middleman who obtained the classified documents. Steven Edginton, 19, who runs the Brexit Party’s social media feeds, insisted he passed the documents to the political journalist Isabel Oakeshott. Mr Edginton, who also describes himself as a freelance journalist, said he did not want his name on the articles, subsequently published in the mail on Sunday, “to avoid possible controversy”. But the key role of Mr Edginton in the leak will cause problems for the Metropolitan Police and for intelligence agencies in what is already a highly sensitive investigation. Sir Kim Darroch It raises the prospect of counter-terrorism officers having to raid the home of a Brexit Party official to try to get to the origin of the leak. Such a move would risk a political furore. One well-placed source said: “This inquiry is already so sensitive and Steve Edginton’s involvement complicates that.” A senior Government minister warned that raiding the Brexit Party - or anybody connected with it - was hugely problematic. “A political party’s computers would have to be seized,” said the minister, “Nobody is going to do that.” Mr Edginton broke his cover in an article for the Mail on Sunday, the tabloid newspaper, which first published details of Sir Kim’s diplomatic telegrams and other memos and letters.  The messages, sent from the Washington embassy to the Foreign Office, described Donald Trump’s administration as “inept” and “utterly dysfunctional”. The president reacted furiously, branding Sir Kim a “pompous fool” and “the wacky ambassador” before withdrawing a series of invitations to the White House. Sir Kim resigned a day after Boris Johnson refused to back him in a televised debate in the race to be Conservative Party leader. Donald Trump shaking hands with Sir Kim in 2018 In his lengthy account of the affair, Mr Edginton said he feared he could be arrested for his role but declared: “I am not the leaker - I am a young journalist - but I did play a critical role in the publication of a story that has reverberated on both sides of the Atlantic.” He said he had begun investigating earlier this year how the civil service was preparing for Brexit and examining an alleged pro-remain bias within it. He wrote: “There had been repeated reports claiming that Europhile mandarins have been quietly working to thwart the result of the referendum.  “I just wanted to discover the truth. This was not a Brexiteer plot to topple Sir Kim, nor was it some devilish scheme to torpedo the independence of the civil service by installing a political appointee in Washington. Instead, it was simply an honest journalistic endeavour.” Sir Kim Darroch | Profile He said he was passed a letter written by Sir Kim describing the White House as “inept” and realising its significance took it to Ms Oakeshott. Mr Edginton had worked for Ms Oakeshott as a researcher. Mr Edginton wrote: “I appreciate that my CV – and my pro-Brexit views – will inevitably fuel the conspiracy theories but I want to be absolutely clear: the leak of Sir Kim’s cables had absolutely nothing to do with the Brexit party.” Scotland Yard launched its criminal investigation into a suspected breach of the Official Secrets Act in the wake of the resignation of Sir Kim and the damage done to the national interest.  Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the head of counter terrorism, provoked a furore when he suggested editors could be prosecuted for publishing sensitive material related to the leak.

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