In Major Shift, US Now Exports More Oil Than It Ships In

The United States last week exported more crude oil and fuel than it imported for the first time on record, according to data released on Thursday, the same day OPEC ended a meeting without a decision to curb global output to balance out the historic surge in U.S. supply.

When adding in all imports and exports of crude and refined products, the U.S. exported a net 211,000 barrels per day for the week through Nov. 30 - the first time that has happened, according to U.S. Energy Department figures dating to 1973. That was on the back of a jump in crude exports to a weekly record of more than 3.2 million bpd.

"So when does the U.S. send a delegate to OPEC meetings?" said Kyle Cooper, consultant at ION Energy in Houston. "It's really quite amazing. I do think that will occur more and more often in coming years."

The United States historically has been a heavy importer of crude oil in part due to a four-decade ban on crude exports that was lifted in late 2015 by then-President Barack Obama.

Petroleum exports until recently were dominated by products like gasoline and diesel, but that has changed since the U.S. shale revolution that has sped up drilling and extraction of oil, helping boost overall U.S. production to a record 11.7 million bpd.

The data comes on the same day that the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries adjourned a meeting without announcing a supply-cut agreement as it grapples with sinking prices due in part to the surge in U.S. output that has upended the global supply equation.

Crude inventories fell 7.3 million barrels last week, the first drawdown since September, as net crude imports hit a record low of 4 million bpd, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Thursday.

Graphic: U.S. turns into net exporter of oil (https://tmsnrt.rs/2Rz57Xn)

U.S. crude prices have sagged almost a third since hitting a four-year high near $76 a barrel in October. That was in part due to concerns about oversupply coming to the fore again as U.S. production rose in tandem with increased output from Saudi Arabia and Russia. The three countries are the world's largest producers of oil.

That has created a dilemma for Saudi-led OPEC, which wants to maintain higher prices but avoid ceding more market share to shale producers. On Thursday, OPEC adjourned its meeting in Vienna, aiming to reach an agreement with Russia on Friday.

"It seems EIA has a habit of sending bad news to OPEC during its Vienna meetings. In the past, it has been surging U.S. production numbers. But this time was truly remarkable and historic showing data for net crude imports as -211,000 bpd," said Joe McMonigle, analyst at Hedgeye in Washington.

U.S. crude production is expected to average more than 12 million bpd in 2019, according to the EIA, an increase of more than 3 million bpd in 2016. Shale production surged in the early part of the decade as companies started to use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract oil in basins in Texas, North Dakota and other states.

U.S. output rose to 9.7 million bpd in mid-2015, just shy of the nation's all-time high set in 1970, but fell off when OPEC flooded the world markets with supply to try to hinder the shale industry. But OPEC was forced to curb output in 2016 as oil-producing nations faced budget shortfalls, and as prices recovered, shale's output accelerated.

"Every single month, every single year, we're going to become more of a global pie and that's a part of the pie you can't control - it's completely different than the OPEC piece," said Bernadette Johnson, vice president in market intelligence at Drillinginfo in Denver.

For the week, the United States also posted net exports of 4.2 million bpd of products like gasoline and diesel.

The weekly figures are subject to wide fluctuations, however, so the sudden shift may be a temporary occurrence. Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, said he was not surprised this happened in the winter, a seasonally slow period for domestic gasoline demand.

U.S. oil prices ended Thursday lower, due to concern that planned OPEC production cuts will be smaller than originally anticipated. U.S. crude futures lost 2.7 percent on the day, while Brent crude dropped by 2.4 percent.

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Russia Worried about US Attempt to Destroy Disarmament System

Moscow, Nov 22 (Prensa Latina) Russia expressed on Thursday its deep concern over the attempts of the United States to destroy or reform the current system to limit the proliferation of weapons in the world, especially nuclear weapons.

Russian Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov told the Italian news agency Agi that his country and the United States, as possessors of the largest arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, have a responsibility to maintain strategic stability in the world.

With the intention of guaranteeing total freedom of action, Washington announced its possible withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), he said.

In addition, some political circles in the US question the extension in 2021 of the Treaty for Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Weapons (Start III), recalled the Russian diplomat, who is visiting Italy.

The position of withdrawing from the INF and leaving the Start III aside is a dangerous and lacks perspective, the experienced Russian diplomat said.

For Lavrov, the return to the policy of guarantee of mutual destruction between Russia and the West has nothing to do with the 21st century and in that sense, he asked himself if the concentration of the Atlantic Alliance on the Russian border and the response from Moscow offers more security for the world.

However, the areas and challenges against which Russia and the United States could work together are growing: from the fight against terrorism to the solution of situations of regional crises or, even, the climate, argued the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Statements by US President Donald Trump that his country will strengthen its nuclear power until others 'do not come to their senses' are aimed at our nation and China, he estimated.

At the same time, he considered that relations between his country and Italy are on the rise and, he said, the fruitful results of the recent meeting in this capital between President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte are proof of that.

Lavrov stressed that despite the unilateral sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union, the United States, Japan, Canada, and other Western powers, some 500 Italian companies maintain their jobs in this state. In addition to the Italian investments in Russia, the European country plans to participate with its ENI company in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which brings gas directly from this nation to a concentrator plant in Germany, after crossing the Baltic Sea bottom.

In Italy, there are more and more politicians at different levels who propose ending the unilateral sanctions applied by the West against Russia since in 2014 it rejected the coup in Kiev and supported the sovereignty of Crimea and the cause of the rebels in the Donbass.

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Russian Loses Interpol Presidency After US Pushes Opposing Vote

The election had been hotly contested, with anti-Russian sentiment projected by the United States and Europe.

Russian interior ministry’s Alexander Prokopchuk loses an election, held in Dubai, for Interpol's new president. The favored candidate was best by South Korean Kim Jong-yang after heavyweight opposition.

RELATED: Facebook Sued For Censorship by Russian News Agency

Last week, The Times had reported that Prokopchuk, who currently serves as one of Interpol's vice-presidents, was the "favorite" to lead the organization. However, the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) 194 member states, in a shock decision, chose Kim following several terse exchanges which prompted Moscow to state that critics were running a "campaign aimed at discrediting" Prokopchuk.  

The election had been hotly contested, garnering anti-Russian sentiment projected by the United States and Europe. Several U.S. senators openly urged voting nations to oppose the Russian candidate, while other countries threatened to disrupt Interpol membership structure if Prokopchuk was elected.

The General Assembly is INTERPOL’s supreme governing body. Here's how it works.

., , , and I oppose Russian leadership of Interpol. Russia routinely abuses Interpol for the purpose of settling scores and harassing political opponents, dissidents, and journalists. Read our full statement here: Read our full statement here: wicker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2018/11

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov retorted to the constant pushback, stating that the U.S. senators' action was an “intervention in the voting process.” 

Additionally, during his stint as Interpol's Moscow bureau chief, Prokopchuk was accused, but not prosecuted or charged, of allegedly using international arrest warrants to target critics of the Kremlin.

"Our world is now facing unprecedented changes which present huge challenges to public security and safety. To overcome them, we need a clear vision: we need to build a bridge to the future," Kim said.

 
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More Than 200 Still Missing In California's Deadliest Wildfire

More than 200 people were missing early on Monday in California's deadliest and most destructive blaze on record, one of two fires raging in the state which have killed at least 31 people and forced more than a quarter of a million evacuations.

The so-called Camp Fire 40 miles northwest of Sacramento burned down more than 6,700 homes and businesses in the town of Paradise, more structures than any other wildfire recorded in California.

The fire had burned more than 111,000 acres and was 25 percent contained by late Sunday, officials said. Its death toll of 29 now equals that of the Griffith Park Fire in 1933, the deadliest wildfire on record in California.

At least 228 people were still missing, according to Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea.

In southern California, the Woolsey Fire has scorched at least 85,500 acres and destroyed 177 structures. The blaze was only 15 percent contained. At least two people have died in that fire, according to officials from the statewide agency Cal Fire.

The blaze has forced the authorities to issue evacuation orders for a quarter million people in Ventura and Los Angeles counties and beachside communities including the Malibu beach colony.

Celebrities at the People's Choice Awards Sunday night in Santa Monica, Ca., asked for prayers and donations for residents and first responders.

Reality television star Kim Kardashian said, 'It's been a really rough week in our home in Calabasas, Hidden Hills and our neighbors in Thousand Oaks and Malibu."

Actor Melissa McCarthy said, "Please keep the victims, volunteers and firefighters in your thoughts." She also asked people to donate to the Los Angeles fire Department Foundation.

Hot, dry winds were expected to whip up the fires burning in both tinder-dry southern and northern California until Tuesday, officials said.

Officials urged residents to heed evacuation orders.

"Winds are already blowing," Chief Daryl Osby of the Los Angeles County Fire Department said Sunday. "They are going to blow for the next three days. Your house can be rebuilt but you can't bring your life back."

Governor Jerry Brown asked U.S. President Donald Trump to declare a major disaster to bolster the emergency response and help residents recover.

Trump has criticized the California government in Tweets this weekend, blaming poor forest management for the infernos.

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9 Dead In California Wildfire, Residents Take Refuge On Beaches In Malibu

Paradise: Wildfires burned out of control on Friday across California, killing at least nine people in a mountain town and forcing residents to flee the upscale beach community of Malibu in the face of a monster fire storm.

All nine victims were found in and around the Northern California town of Paradise, where more than 6,700 homes and businesses were burned down by the Camp Fire, making it one of the most destructive in state history, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire protection data.

"This event was the worst-case scenario. It was the event we have feared for a long time," Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said at a Friday evening press conference. "Regrettably, not everybody made it out."

The remains of five of the victims were discovered in or near burned out cars, three outside residences and one inside a home, Honea said.

Another 35 people had been reported missing and three firefighters had been injured.

The flames descended on Paradise so quickly that many people were forced to abandon their cars and run for their lives down the sole road through the mountain town.

A school bus was among several abandoned vehicles left blackened by flames on one road.

The Camp Fire, which broke out on Thursday at the edge of the Plumas National Forest northeast of Sacramento, has since blackened more than 90,000 acres and was only 5 percent contained as of nightfall on Friday.

A total of 6,453 homes had been destroyed in Paradise and elsewhere, Honea said, along with 260 commercial buildings. The Tubbs Fire, which destroyed 5,636 structures in Napa and Sonoma counties in October 2017, is listed by Cal Fire as the most destructive in state history.

Fire burns toward Malibu

In Malibu, some 500 miles (800 km) to the south, flames driven by hot Santa Ana winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour (80 kph) raced down hillsides and through canyons toward multi-million dollar homes.

Thousands of residents packed the Pacific Coast Highway to head south or took refuge on beaches, along with their horses and other pets.

Among those force to flee the Woolsey Fire, which had charred some 35,000 acres (14,164 hectares) as of Friday afternoon, were celebrities, including Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian, who said on Twitter flames had damaged the home she shares in nearby Calabasas with Kanye West.

"Fire is now burning out of control and heading into populated areas of Malibu," the city said in a statement online. "All residents must evacuate immediately."

Malibu and Calabasas, west of Los Angeles, are home to hundreds of celebrities and entertainment executives attracted by ocean views, rolling hills and large, secluded estates.

The blaze, which spewed massive plumes of thick black smoke, also threatened parts of the nearby town of Thousand Oaks, where a gunman killed 12 people earlier this week in a shooting rampage at a college bar, stunning the bucolic Southern California community with a reputation for safety.

The Woolsey Fire broke out on Thursday and quickly jumped the 101 Freeway in several places. On Friday, it climbed over the Santa Monica Mountains toward Malibu.

Authorities were forced to shut down the 101, a major north-south artery, as well as the Pacific Coast Highway. Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said a "significant number" of homes had been destroyed by the flames but that an accurate count could not yet be made.

Elsewhere, the Hill Fire in Ventura County's Santa Rosa Valley had charred about 6,000 acres (2,428 hectares) as of Friday evening, according to Cal Fire.

In Los Angeles, another, smaller fire in Griffith Park forced the Los Angeles Zoo to evacuate a number of show birds and some small primates on Friday as flames came within less than 2 miles (3 km) of the facility, zoo officials said in a statement.

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US won’t let Russia ease North Korea sanctions, Haley says

Russia says it’s trying to ease sanctions on North Korea to make aid organisations’ work there possible. The US says it won’t let that happen.

Following a closed-door UN security council meeting this Thursday requested by Russia and China, US ambassador Nikki Haley told press members that Russia is trying “to lift banking restrictions” against North Korea, an option which she says is off the table:  “So now we know what their agenda is, we know exactly why they’re trying to do it and we’re not going to let it happen.” 

 
At the meeting, the Russian Mission to the UN released a statement referring to “serious humanitarian problems” resulting from the current American-championed sanctions. The statement claims the restrictions are interfering with the ability of nonprofits and humanitarian aid organizations to work in North Korea – even though they’re not directly subject to the sanctions regime. It urges the council “to examine as soon as possible the options to rectify the situation using the entire tool set available to the UNSC.

Echoing Trump’s statements on the matter, Haley responded that sanctions would not be lifted since the North Koreans “haven’t done anything to warrant us getting rid of them yet,” adding that “The threat is still there.

Earlier this year Haley accused Russia of violating the sanctions agreements and asked the UN to impose punishment. Russia, China and South Korea, in turn, have been pushing for the US to make small concessions in order to facilitate dialogue.

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New U.S. sanctions over chemical weapons would be 'illegal': Kremlin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia would consider any new chemical weapons-related sanctions imposed by the United States to be illegal, a Kremlin spokesman said on Wednesday.

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it would impose additional sanctions on Russia after Moscow failed to give reasonable assurances it would not use chemical weapons after a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in England.

“We consider restrictions imposed by the United States against Russia illegal,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

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War-stricken Yemen 'living hell' for all children: UN official

Yemen has turned into a "living hell" for all children with thousands dying every year from malnutrition and easily preventable diseases, a top UN official says as Saudi Arabia presses ahead with its bloodshed and atrocities in the course of its three-and-a-half-year-old war against the impoverished country.

"Yemen is today a living hell -- not for 50 to 60 percent of the children -- it is a living hell for every boy and girl in Yemen," Geert Cappelaere, the regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at UN children's agency UNICEF, told reporters in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Sunday.

He called on the warring parties to join proposed peace talks due to be held later this month and agree to a ceasefire across the conflict-ravaged Yemen.

The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) warned that more than seven million children are facing a serious threat of famine in Yemen.

 

“Today, 1.8 million children under the age of five are facing acute malnutrition, and 400,000 are affected by severe acute malnutrition,” Cappelaere said late in October 31.

Elsewhere in his Sunday remarks, the UN official said malnutrition leads to the death of 30,000 children each year in Yemen, while one child dies every 10 minutes from easily preventable diseases.

Cappelaere added that the figures were "a reminder for all of us to realize how dire the situation has become."

"We call on all parties to get together later this month under the leadership of the UN special envoy... and agree on a ceasefire and a road to peace for Yemen," he said.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that Yemen is teetering “on a precipice”, appealing to the international community to put an end to the Saudi war on the impoverished nation.

“Yemen today stands on a precipice. On the humanitarian side, the situation is desperate. We must do all we can to prevent the already dire conditions from deteriorating,” said the UN chief in a press conference, adding that the consequences of such a war would be “terrible” for the Yemeni nation.

Leading a coalition of its allies, including the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who resigned amid popular discontent and fled to the Arab kingdom.

Since the onset of the imposed war, the Yemeni army, backed by fighters of the country’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, has been defending the impoverished nation against the brutal aggression. The coalition, supported by the United States, is also resolute to crush the movement as another goal in its war on Yemen, which is teetering on the edge of famine.

Saudi Arabia has so far achieved none of its objectives in Yemen. Riyadh had declared at the start of the invasion that the war would take no more than a couple of weeks.

According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.

The Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

A number of Western countries, the United States and Britain in particular, are also accused of being complicit in the ongoing aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence.

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