Oil prices hover near 2019 highs after U.S. ends all Iran sanction waivers

By Henning Gloystein SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices hovered near 2019 peaks in early trading on Tuesday after Washington abruptly moved to end all Iran sanctions waivers by May, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran. Brent crude futures were at $74.33 per barrel at 0051 GMT, up 0.4 percent from their last close and not far off 2019 highs of $74.52 reached on Monday

Reuters April 23, 2019 07:05:14 IST
Oil prices hover near 2019 highs after U.S. ends all Iran sanction waivers

Oil prices hover near 2019 highs after US ends all Iran sanction waivers

By Henning Gloystein

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices hovered near 2019 peaks in early trading on Tuesday after Washington abruptly moved to end all Iran sanctions waivers by May, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran.

Brent crude futures were at $74.33 per barrel at 0051 GMT, up 0.4 percent from their last close and not far off 2019 highs of $74.52 reached on Monday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $65.79 per barrel, up 0.4 percent from their previous settlement, and also just a notch below their $65.92 2019 peak from Monday.

The United States on Monday demanded that buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions, ending six months of waivers which allowed Iran's eight biggest buyers, most of them in Asia, to continue buying limited volumes.

Before the reimposition of sanctions last year, Iran was the fourth-largest producer among the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at almost 3 million barrels per day (bpd), but April exports have shrunk well below 1 million bpd, according to ship tracking and analyst data in Refinitiv.

Barclay's bank said in a note following the announcement that the decision took many market participants by surprise and that the move would "lead to a significant tightening of oil markets".

The British bank added that Washington's target to cut Iran oil exports to zero posed a "material upside risk to our current $70 per barrel average price forecast for Brent this year, compared with the year-to-date average of $65 per barrel".

ANZ bank said in a note on Tuesday that "the decision is likely to worsen the ongoing supply woes being felt with Venezuelan sanctions, the OPEC supply cut, and intensifying conflict in Libya".

The move to tighten Iran sanctions comes amid other sanctions Washington has placed on Venezuela's oil exports and also as producer club OPEC has led supply cuts since the start of the year aimed at tightening global oil markets and propping up crude prices.

Ellen Wald, non-resident senior fellow at the Global Energy Centre of the Atlantic Council, said the United States "seem to expect" Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to replace the Iranian oil, but she added "that this is not necessarily the way Saudi Arabia sees it".

Saudi Arabia is the world's biggest exporter of crude oil and OPEC's de-facto leader. The group is set to meet in June to discuss its output policy.

Meanwhile, the Atlantic Council said the U.S. move would hurt Iranian citizens.

"We're going to see their currency collapse more, more unemployment, more inflation," said Barbara Slavin, director for the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, adding that the U.S. sanctions were "not going to bring Iran back to the (nuclear) negotiating table".

(Reporting by Henning Gloystein in SINGAPORE; Additional reporting by Humeyra Paumuk in WASHINGTON; Editing by Joseph Radford)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.