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14 July 2018, 08:04 | Austin Hogan
It's likely that some countries will seek an exemption from sanctions on Iranian oil purchases, and the USA will consider these applications, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
However, there was speculation that Saudi Arabia, which has about 18 percent of the world's proven petroleum reserves, would tap into its spare capacity of 2 million barrels per day to add more oil to the markets, while U.S. shale production also remained robust.
Barclays plc this week raised its outlook for Brent crude oil prices for this year from $70 per barrel to $73 per barrel.
Washington had previously said countries must halt all imports of Iranian Crude Oil from 4 November or face United States financial restrictions, with no exemptions.
That suggests Wednesday's tumble on news that Libya is reopening four oil export terminals was overdone.
Another factor pushing down oil prices midweek were the comments from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who seemed to soften America's position as it relates to how severely it would treat countries buying Iranian oil. This was the biggest price slide in almost two years.
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The prospect of sanctions on oil exports from Iran, the world's fifth-biggest oil producer, has helped push up oil prices in recent weeks, with both crude contracts trading near 3-1/2-year highs.
Moving forward, we have to consider several factors.
OPEC on Wednesday forecast world demand for its crude will decline next year as growth in consumption slows and rivals pump more, pointing to a market surplus returning despite an OPEC-led pact to restrain supplies. Firstly, if the new list of tariffs on China are eventually imposed then China could turnaround and tax US oil.
Libyan oil production fell to 527,000 barrels per day (BPD) from a high of 1.28 million BPD (MMBPD) in February following the port closures, the NOC said Monday. If Libyan production can get back to its high then this will take care of some of the spare capacity concerns.
A separate State Department official told reporters that the US was working with Saudi Arabia to avoid price volatility. "We talked about minimizing market disruptions and helping partners find alternatives to Iranian supply of oil". At the heart of the problem for buyers is a U.S. threat to cut off access to the American banking system for foreign financial institutions that settle trades with the Middle East nation's central bank.
Adding to the bearish mood were signs of a possible relaxation of USA sanctions on Iranian crude exports.
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