Oil holds gains as Mideast clashes raise risks after Saudi cuts

FxWirePro: Brent WTI spread reaches highest in 38 months amid Middle East tension and increasing US supplies
Oil holds gains as Mideast clashes raise risks after Saudi cuts

16 May, 2018

"US sanctions on Iran take center stage in the oil market", said Norbert Ruecker, head of macro and commodity at Julius Baer & Co in Zurich.

Brent for July settlement rose as much as $1.24 to $79.47/bbl on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, after increasing $1.11 on Monday.

Brent crude futures, the worldwide benchmark for oil prices, were at $78.37 per barrel at 0028 GMT, up 14 cents from their last close and not far off a three-and-a-half year high of $78.53 a barrel reached the previous session.

Another industry player who seems is indifferent to the Iran situation is Dharmendra Pradhan, oil minister for India: he told Bloomberg television that he expects "reasonable" oil prices following sanctions against Iran and that his country as an emerging major economy is open to crude imports from any and all sources.

Now the United States has announced it will impose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, raising fears that markets will face shortages later this year when trade restrictions come into effect. High oil prices and low finding cost in the region which has relatively shallow wells help drive exploration in the farm belt where an average well produces 40-50 barrels-a-day over a 15-20 year life span.

World oil prices are rising against the backdrop of the OPEC May report on oil reserves and the persistence of concerns about the level of production in Iran.

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"In 2012, the reduction in Iranian crude production and exports were around 1 MMBPD", Wittner said, Reuters reported.

Russia's largest oil producer, in which British oil major BP owns a 19.75 stake, said production of liquid hydrocarbons, or oil and gas condensate, stood at 4.57 million barrels per day (bpd) in the first three months of 2018.

"The API inventory data in the US fits with. a topping pattern - or at least a decent pause - for oil prices at the moment", said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.

"Germany has said it will protect its companies from US sanctions, Iran has said French oil giant Total has yet to pull out of its fields and all the while it seems the Chinese are ready to fill the void created by the U.S".

Saudi Arabia, OPEC's de-facto leader, last month pumped the least crude since the output-cut deal began in early 2017. Fifty-five Palestinians were killed in confrontations with Israeli troops on Monday after tens of thousands converged on the Gaza Strip border to protest the US embassy in Jerusalem.

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