OPEC chief says Iran still ‘very important as USA sanctions loom

Roman Schwartz
September 21, 2018

Oil traded near $69 a barrel on signs of increased drilling by American producers and investor optimism that Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation will fill in potential supply losses from Iran.

Brent crude futures (LCOc1) were down 15 cents at $78.88 a barrel by 1116 GMT, having gained 1.3 percent on Tuesday following media reports that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, was comfortable with prices above $80.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures CLc1 fell 20 cents or 0.3 percent, to $68.79 a barrel.

Oil futures rose more than 1 percent on Tuesday on signs that OPEC would not be prepared to raise output to address shrinking supplies from Iran, and as Saudi Arabia signaled an informal target near current levels.

On the supply side, ahead of the USA crude sanctions against Iran in November, the oil producer has decreased its export loadings by 580,000 barrels per day in the past three months, according to analysts at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch (NYSE:BAC).

The Chief of OPEC, Mohammad Barkindo said that Iran is a very important member of the oil exporting organisation, however, it has no choice but to continue working with all parties.

OPEC must stick together for the good of the global economy as founding member Iran faces renewed USA sanctions, the head of the cartel said Tuesday - though he did not address how an already-tight market will make up for the loss of Iranian supply.

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Brent may fall more than $1 to $76.37 a barrel, while WTI crude prices may revisit their September 14 low of $67.94, he wrote.

Meanwhile, ministers from Opec nations and non-Opec producers are set to meet on Sunday to discuss compliance with output policies.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing unnamed Saudi sources, the kingdom was now comfortable with prices above $80 per barrel, at least for the short-term.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said last week in Moscow that he did not foresee any price spikes once sanctions came into effect, and was positive about Saudi output.

US sanctions affecting Iran's oil exports come into force on November 4 and many buyers have already scaled back Iranian purchases. 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.

U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to announce new tariffs on about $200 billion on Chinese imports as early as Monday, a senior administration official told Reuters on Saturday.

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