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Rhetoric over USA exit from Iran deal rises

15 May 2018

LONDON/DUBAI, May 10 (Reuters) - OPEC is in no hurry to decide whether to pump more oil to make up for an expected drop in exports from Iran after the imposition of new us sanctions, four sources familiar with the issue said, saying any loss in supply would take time.

"President Donald Trump pulling out of the Iran deal and announcing his decision to re-impose sanctions on the key crude oil producer would exert pressure on the fuel prices and affect the Indian economy on the downside", Assocham Secretary General D.S. Rawat said in a statement.

In response, Asia's petroleum refiners are struggling to locate alternative supplies in order to cope with the renewed US sanctions against Iran.

The United States will likely re-impose sanctions against Iran after 180 days, unless some other agreement is reached.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate and international-benchmark Brent crude oil futures are trading lower early Friday, but remain within striking distance of multi-year highs hit in the previous session.

Crude oil prices are now flat - both Brent and WTI are now trading sideways. West Texas Intermediate, the USA benchmark, was down 0.2 percent to $71.22 per barrel.

The rise in barrel prices would mean that gas prices would jump to more than $3 per gallon over the summer.

Weekly U.S. crude oil production C-OUT-T-EIA hit another record last week, climbing to 10.7 million barrels per day (bpd).

The EIA report helped carry US gasoline futures to $2.1674 a gallon, the very best since Hurricane Harvey despatched costs surging in August.

One factor that could partially mitigate any shortfall from Iran is soaring US oil output.

"A whopping drop in imports has resulted in a moderate draw to crude stocks, while a drop in both gasoline and distillates inventories round out a broadly supportive report", said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.

Also on Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pledged not to "walk away" from Iran nuclear deal, and demanded "concrete proposals" from Washington on how to now curtail Tehran's alleged nuclear weapons ambitions after the USA president Donald Trump ditched the landmark agreement.

The original 2015 agreement had lifted sanctions in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear programme.

During the last round of sanctions prior to the nuclear deal, Iran's oil supplies fell by around one million barrels per day.

Analysts' estimates of the possible reduction in Iranian crude supplies as a result of any new USA sanctions range from 200,000 bpd to 1 million bpd.

The return of the sanctions could initially reduce by 500,000 bpd Iran's current crude oil production of 3.8 million bpd, Goldman Sachs said in a note today, as carried by Reuters.

The UK also said it would do its utmost to protect British business interests in Iran, while Germany said it was seeking details on the effect of USA sanctions.

Crude prices slipped on Thursday, giving up early gains as investors took profit on a rally triggered by potential disruption to oil flows from major exporter Iran in the face of United States sanctions.

Though it's early days, the sanctions are unlikely to hurt supply to Indian refineries as alternatives to Iranian oil can be easily found since there is enough global inventory, and unlike during the previous sanctions, the U.S. is already an influential exporter of oil, Surana said.

Rhetoric over USA exit from Iran deal rises