Oil pulls back as Iraq's army makes a stand in Tikrit battle hard to retake the city. Iraq's army is having some success against the insurgents and a declaration by ISIS could splinter the rebels raising hopes that the oil exports in the South of Iraq will be untouched. Yet with a storm developing in the Atlantic will Gulf-of Mexico supply be untouched?
Reuters reports that a low-pressure area located about 210 miles east-southeast of St. Augustine, Florida has a 60 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Monday. "Environmental conditions are forecast to become more conducive for development during the next few days," the Miami-based weather forecasters said. A tropical depression is likely to form by mid-week while the system moves slowly southwest ward, then north and northeast ward near the southeastern United States coast, the NHC added. The storm right now seems to be north of production area so the energy markets are not that worried yet.
In Iraq, Russia is sending help to the Iraqi government in the form of planes. Fox News is reporting that "the leaders of an Al Qaeda splinter group that has seized vast portions of northern and western Iraq have declared the establishment of an Islamic state and demanded allegiance from other Muslim groups."
In an audio statement posted online that coincided with the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a spokesman for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), announced that the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was the "caliph," or leader, of a state whose territory extended from the city of Aleppo in northwestern Syria, to Diyala province in northeastern Iraq.
On Sunday, Iraqi helicopter gunships struck suspected insurgent positions for a second consecutive day in the northern city of Tikrit, the predominantly Sunni hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein. The insurgents appeared to have repelled the military's initial push for Tikrit, and remained in control of the city on Sunday, but clashes were taking place in the northern neighborhood of Qadissiyah, two residents reached by telephone said.
The U.S. crude export ban continues to crumble as shale oil that almost defies the definition of what crude oil is or is not is breaking down the export barrier. Reuters news say that "all U.S. crude that is processed by a distillation tower, not only light oil known as condensate, is exempt from the 40-year crude (NYMEX:CLN14) export ban, U.S. government and industry sources said on Friday (NYMEX:RBN14). The Department of Commerce determined this week that two companies that produce condensate, a light oil, can export the petroleum if it is processed by a distillation tower.
The sources said any crude that goes through the process can also be exported, potentially widening the amount of petroleum U.S. producers can send to markets abroad. The Department of Commerce told Irving, Texas-based Pioneer Natural Resources PXD.N and Houston-based Enterprise Product Partners EPD.N this week that they can export crude that has been lightly processed after they asked the department for clarification.
Some oil field equipment called stabilizers can be adjusted to qualify as more complicated distillation towers, which could further widen what kind of petroleum can be shipped, said one of the sources. In a ruling earlier this year, the Department of Commerce told Pioneer and Enterprise that processing their oil through a condensate stabilizer--a much cheaper, easier form of processing that simply separates light petroleum gases from crude oil - would also qualify it for export.