OPEC chief: Cartel must stay together as USA sanctions Iran

Dwayne Harmon
September 22, 2018

Iran's oil exports have fallen about 35 percent since Trump announced new US sanctions on Tehran.

Oil prices inched up on Wednesday as concerns that producers may not be able to cover a shortfall in supply once US sanctions on Iran kick in outweighed a gain in USA stockpiles.

Tehran feels increasingly under pressure after President Donald Trump pulled out of the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in May.

Iranian crude oil export loadings have declined by 580,000 barrels per day in the past three months, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said in a note to clients.

According to Bloomberg tanker tracker data, Iran now has four supertankers carrying about 7 million barrels of crude anchored off its main export terminals for at least seven days.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 20 cents, or 0.29 percent, at $70.05 a barrel, having climbed 1.4 percent the day before.

Crude oil prices peaked at a near-term high of with WTI tapping into 70.40 on Tuesday, but was unable to make a challenge of last week's high of 71.25 after U.S. oil inventories showed yet another surprise build-up in their barrel counts yesterday.

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Meanwhile, American Petroleum Institute data showed that crude stockpiles increased last week, while those in the storage hub at Cushing in Oklahoma fell.

Iran told on Sunday no member country should be allowed to take over another member's share of oil exports, expressing Tehran's concern about Saudi Arabia's offer to pump more oil in the face of United States sanctions on Iranian oil sales.

"It was a squarely bullish report", said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management in NY.

Ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers meet on Sunday to discuss compliance with output policies.

Russia's Defense Ministry said a Russian military plane was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft systems, but accused Israel of indirectly causing the incident, saying Israeli jets nearby had put the Russian plane in the path of danger.

However, the longer-term outlook remains weighed down by an escalation in the China-U.S. trade war that has clouded the outlook for crude demand. Earlier this month, Saudi shipments into the US reached a four-week average of 1 million barrels a day for the first time since late 2017, according to government data.

On Monday, the Trump administration said it would begin to levy new tariffs of 10 percent on about $200 billion of Chinese products next Monday, with the tariffs to go up to 25 percent by the end of 2018.

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