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Oil surrenders gains as investors take profit on Iran-based rally

12 May 2018
Oil surrenders gains as investors take profit on Iran-based rally

China is the world's largest importer of Iranian crude, at an average of 648,000 bpd, and its oil demand is sharply rising. At least some of that oil will now be pulled from the market - at a time when oil prices are already rising because of production cuts by OPEC and Russian Federation as well as instability in Venezuela.

Under the new sanctions, the United States will begin blocking new deals with Iran immediately, but will provide leniency toward firms with existing commercial agreements if they demonstrate that they are reducing their involvement with Iran over a 180-day "wind-down" period.

The EIA report helped lift USA gasoline futures to $2.1674 a gallon, the highest since Hurricane Harvey sent prices surging in August.

But it's not clear how high prices will go.

By Grant SmithOil prices could rally to $100 a barrel next year, a level not seen since 2014, as supply risks in Venezuela and Iran strain global markets, according to Bank of America Corp.

Ignoring pleas by allies, Trump on Tuesday pulled out of a 2015 worldwide deal with Iran, making investors nervous about rising risks of conflict in the Middle East and about oil supplies in a tight market. The typical family will spend about $200 more this summer driving season, according to the Oil Price Information Service.

Niels Christensen: Saudi Arabia said earlier this year that they would be pleased to see oil prices above $80 towards $100, and they have also been indicating that they are not going to change the re-agreement amongst the OPEC countries about production cuts, that is running until the end of the year and everybody expects that deal with Russian Federation and also other non-OPEC countries to continue into 2019, so that will also be a factor supporting the oil prices.

Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, could. Those seeking waivers will be required to start reducing oil imports from Iran immediately. The country, the third-biggest producer of crude within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, exported about 2.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in April. Washington can not ensure success alone, particularly because it can not offer sufficient heavy oil exports to compensate for the loss of Iranian heavy oil barrels from the market.

"We're doing nothing", said the head of trading at another European customer of Iran's. That's the longest rising streak in a month.

Saudi Arabia, for instance, has the ability to crank up output.

Saudi Arabia said it would work with other producers to lessen the impact of any shortage in oil supplies.

Leveraged products, like the United States 3x Oil Fund (USOU), up 55.5% this year, have done even better. That's about 1 million barrels a day more than in early 2016. Richard Nephew, senior research scholar at Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy, added that China and India may continue to buy Iranian oil even in the face of USA sanctions, negating some of their impact.

One catch: Output is surging so much in the Permian Basin, America's biggest oilfield, that pipelines can't keep up.