Oil prices edge up amid uncertainty over fallout from Iran sanctions 

CNBC

  • Markets attempted to ascertain the potential impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran which are due to go into effect on Nov. 4.
  • Iran is the third-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Oil prices inched up on Friday, with investors trying to gauge the potential impact on supply from looming U.S. sanctions on Iran’s crude exports.

The most-active Brent crude futures contract, for December, had risen 18 cents, or 0.22 percent, to $81.56 per barrel by 0126 GMT. That was close to a four-year high of $82.55 struck on Tuesday.

With the expiration of the Brent November futures contract later on Friday, the front-month contract will become the December contract.

U.S futures were up 21 cents, or 0.29 percent, at $72.33 per barrel, on track for a weekly gain.

“The market has been focusing on trading headlines on the Iran sanctions for a whole week. But views on how much OPEC and Russia can make up for the losses vary,” said Chen Kai, head of commodity research at Shenda Futures.

The sanctions kick in on Nov. 4, with Washington asking buyers of Iranian oil to cut imports to zero to force Tehran to negotiate a new nuclear agreement and to curb its influence in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia is expected to quietly add extra oil to the market over the next couple of months to offset the drop in Iranian production, but is worried it might need to limit output next year to balance global supply and demand as the United States pumps more crude.

Two sources familiar with OPEC policy said Saudi Arabia and other producers discussed a possible production increase of about 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC allies.

However, ANZ said in a note on Friday that major suppliers were unlikely to offset losses due to the sanctions estimated at 1.5 million bpd.

At its 2018-peak in May, Iran exported 2.71 million bpd, nearly 3 percent of daily global crude consumption. The nation is OPEC’s third-largest producer.

Meanwhile, looming supply from the United States and stable output from Libya were dragging on oil prices, said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore.

Oil prices climb amid fall in US stockpiles, supply worries

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  • Oil prices rose for a third day on Thursday following another drawdown in U.S. inventories and strong U.S. gasoline demand.
  • U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell for a fifth straight week to 3.5-year lows in the week to Sept. 14, while gasoline inventories also showed a larger-than-expected draw on unseasonably strong demand, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Oil rose for a third day on Thursday amid another drawdown in U.S. inventories and strong U.S. gasoline demand, while signs OPEC may not raise output to address shrinking supplies from Iran also supported prices.

Global benchmark Brent crude was up by 26 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $79.66 by 0611 GMT, after gaining half-a-percent on Wednesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 60 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $71.72 a barrel, after rising nearly 2 percent the previous session.

U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell for a fifth straight week to 3.5-year lows in the week to Sept. 14, while gasoline inventories also showed a larger-than-expected draw on unseasonably strong demand, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories declined by 2.1 million barrels, the EIA data showed, compared with expectations for a decrease of 2.7 million barrels.

“The bulls are back in charge, even more so after traders were conveying a high degree of resistance to the unexpected build on the API survey,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at OANDA in Singapore.

He was referring to the weekly survey from the oil industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday that indicated U.S. stocks had risen by 1.2 million barrels last week.

U.S. sanctions affecting Iran’s oil exports come into force on Nov. 4 and many buyers have already scaled back Iranian purchases. But it is unclear how easily other producers can compensate for any lost supply.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia meet on Sunday in Algeria to discuss how to allocate supply increases within their quota framework to offset the loss of Iranian supply.

“The current market betting line suggests price levels rather than global supply levels will be the key determinant on turning on the oil taps,” Innes said.

OPEC sources have told Reuters no immediate action was planned and producers would discuss how to share a previously agreed output increase.

U.S. oil prices rise as Gulf platforms shut ahead of hurricane

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  • Storm Gordon to make U.S. landfall as hurricane.
  • Brent dips as India takes steps to continue Iran imports.
  • Global oil markets have tightened since 2017 — Barclays.

U.S. oil prices rose on Tuesday, breaking past $70 per barrel, after two Gulf of Mexico oil platforms were evacuated in preparation for a hurricane.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $70.05 per barrel at 0353 GMT, up 25 cents, or 0.4 percent from their last settlement.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp said on Monday it had evacuated and shut production at two oil platforms in the northern Gulf of Mexico ahead of the approach of Gordon, which is expected to come ashore as a hurricane.

International Brent crude futures, by contrast, lost ground, trading at $78.07 per barrel, down 8 cents from their last close.

This came as India allowed state refiners to import Iranian oil if Tehran arranges and insures tankers.

Many international shippers have stopped loading Iranian oil as U.S. financial sanctions against Tehran prevents them from insuring its cargoes.

Mirroring a step by China, where buyers are shifting nearly all their Iranian oil imports to vessels owned by National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC), this means that Asia’s two biggest oil importers are making plans to continue Iran purchases despite pressure by Washington to cut orders.

Traders said Brent was also pressured by emerging market turmoil and the strong dollar, which makes crude imports for countries using other currencies more expensive.

Changing market

Britain’s Barclays bank said on Tuesday that oil markets had changed since 2017 when worries about rising supply were more evident.

“U.S. producers are resisting temptation and exercising capital discipline, OPEC and Russia have convinced market participants they are managing the supply of over half of global production, the U.S. is using sanctions more actively, and several key OPEC producers are at risk of being failed states,” Barclays said.

Crude oil “prices could reach $80 and higher in the short term”, the bank said, although it added that despite these developments global supply may exceed demand next year.

For 2020, Barclays said it expects Brent to average $75 per barrel, up from its previous forecast of just $55 a barrel.

French bank BNP Paribas struck a similar tone, warning of “supply issues” for the rest of the year and into 2019.

“Crude oil export losses from Iran due to U.S. sanctions, production decline in Venezuela and episodic outages in Libya are unlikely to be offset entirely by corresponding rises in OPEC+ production due to market share sensitivities,” the bank said.

BNP Paribas expects Brent to average $79 per barrel in 2019.

Oil prices mixed; Brent eases as trade tensions weigh

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  • Oil prices were mixed on Monday with U.S. benchmark WTI nudging higher after four weeks of declines.
  • Brent began the week lower as the fallout from trade tensions weighed on markets.

An oil pumpjack operates near Williston, North Dakota.

Andrew Cullen | Reuters
An oil pumpjack operates near Williston, North Dakota.

Oil prices were mixed on Monday with U.S. benchmark WTI nudging higher after four weeks of declines, while Brent began the week lower as the fallout from trade tensions weighed on markets.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $68.84 a barrel by 0309 GMT. WTI fell 1.3 percent on Friday.

Brent crude futures fell 5 cents to $74.24 a barrel, after notching up a 1.7 percent weekly increase last week, the first gain in four weeks.

The U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in nearly four years in the second quarter, but trade tensions remain high between Washington and Beijing despite an easing between the United States and the EU.

“Concerns around the U.S.-China trade wars continue to weigh on prices, while the halt in Saudi shipments through the Red Sea waterway has seemingly failed to provide a bullish fillip,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading APAC at OANDA Brokerage.

Oil prices are in a constructive period, says Helima Croft

Oil prices are in a constructive period, says Helima Croft  

Saudi Arabia last week said it was suspending oil shipments through the Red Sea’s Bab al-Mandeb strait, one of the world’s most important tanker routes, after Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis attacked two ships in the waterway.

U.S. energy companies added three oil rigs in the week to July 27, the first time in the past three weeks that drillers have increased activity, data released on Friday that showed.

Hedge funds trimmed their bullish wagers on U.S. crude for the second week in a row to the lowest in nearly a month, data also showed on Friday, as oil prices remained volatile amid trade tensions and geopolitical risks.

The speculator group cut its combined futures and options position in New York and London by 11,362 contracts to 412,289 in the week to July 24, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said. That was the lowest level since late June, the data showed.2.4 percent.

Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said on Friday the market remained volatile and responded to verbal interventions, adding that the market had priced in risks related to U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Oil markets inch down after three days of gains

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  • Oil prices edged down on Friday after three days of gains.
  • Prices were still supported by Saudi Arabia’s halt on transporting crude through a key shipping lane, falling U.S. inventories and easing trade tensions between Washington and Europe.

Oil pumpjacks in silhouette at sunset.

Oil pumpjacks in silhouette at sunset.

Oil prices edged down on Friday after three days of gains, but were still supported by Saudi Arabia’s halt on transporting crude through a key shipping lane, falling U.S. inventories and easing trade tensions between Washington and Europe.

Brent futures were down 6 cents at $74.48 a barrel by 0043 GMT, after gaining 0.8 percent on Thursday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures were also 6 cents lower, at $69.55, after posting a nearly 0.5-percent gain the previous session.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, struck a surprise deal on Wednesday that ended the risk of an immediate trade war between the two powers.

A trade war would likely hit demand for commodities like oil, which is used heavily in shipping, construction and other economic activity.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia said it was “temporarily halting” oil shipments through the Red Sea shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb after an attack by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

Any move to block the Bab al-Mandeb, which is between the coasts of Yemen and Africa at the southern end of the Red Sea, would virtually halt oil shipments through Egypt’s Suez Canal and the SUMED crude pipeline that link the Red Sea and Mediterranean.

An estimated 4.8 million barrels per day of crude oil and refined products flowed through the Bab al-Mandeb strait in 2016 towards Europe, the United States and Asia, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

However, Saudi Arabia has the Petroline, also known as the East-West Pipeline, which mainly transports crude from fields clustered in the east to Yanbu for export. That could offset a bottleneck caused by Bab al-Mandeb’s closure.