Saturday, 18 August, 2018

US Oil Gets Cheaper Versus Mideast Crude After Iran Sanctions

Source U.S. Energy Information Administration Short Term Energy Outlook May 2018 Source U.S. Energy Information Administration Short Term Energy Outlook May 2018
Julia Gonzales | 16 May, 2018, 15:59

Brent, the global benchmark, rose as much as 1% at $79.47 per barrel around 8:30 a.m. ET.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $71.08 a barrel, down 23 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last settlement.

The bottleneck in North America likely contributed to a 4.9 million barrel rise in USA crude oil inventories, to 435.6 million barrels, that the private American Petroleum Institute reported on Tuesday.

"U.S. oil prices have flip-flopped on a strong dollar", said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

"You have the threat that a high enough price will start to activate the 7,700 drilled but uncompleted wells in the Lower 48 states", said Walter Zimmerman, chief technical analyst at ICAP TA.

Oil prices ended a shade firmer after retreating from multi-year highs hit early in the day on Tuesday, supported by concerns that US sanctions on Iran are likely to restrict crude exports from one of the biggest producers in the Middle East.

Source U.S. Energy Information Administration Short Term Energy Outlook May 2018
Source U.S. Energy Information Administration Short Term Energy Outlook May 2018

The recent decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement has raised fears that renewed sanctions by Washington could severely hit production from the Middle East state, which now produces 3.8 million bpd and exported 2.6 million bpd last month - making it Opec's third-largest supplier.

Iran will restart its uranium enrichment if it can not find a way to save the 2015 nuclear deal with the European Union after the United States pulled out last week, Tehran's government spokesman said.

Greater GDP growth has the potential to increase oil consumption beyond forecasted levels, which could put upward pressure on crude oil prices, and simultaneously drive systemic market movements in equities, bonds, and other commodities, which are often correlated with movements in crude oil prices.

The data poses worries that near-record high refinery runs may be short-lived. China's crude oil imports in the first quarter increased by 7 percent on the year to around 9.09 million bpd-a rise of nearly 595,000 bpd on average compared to Q1 2017, according to Reuters calculations.

Markets have generally tightened as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), led by Saudi Arabia, have been withholding supplies since 2017 in order to push up oil prices.

A lower US benchmark price could make American crudes attractive in Asia.

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