December 10, 2018

OPEC and traders in standoff over oil outlook: Kemp

03 October 2018, 04:42 | Austin Hogan

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Oil prices have jumped to a four-year high as traders scramble to find alternative sources of crude ahead of United States sanctions against Iran, which come into effect next month.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at 73.57 dollars a barrel.

In October, on average since 1990, Brent crude and WTI prices have declined by roughly 2.8%.

Brent rose 9 cents to $85.07 per barrel by 11:53 a.m. EDT, a day after reaching a four-year high of $85.45.

Brent has risen by more than 20 percent from its most recent lows in August.

The United States sanctions on Iran's energy industry, which is expected to come into force on November 4, are created to cut crude exports from the third-biggest producer in OPEC.

US President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's King Salman have discussed last week about the efforts being carried out to keep supplies to sustain oil market stability and global economic growth.

The United States and Canada forged a deal on Sunday to salvage the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), a trilateral pact with Mexico.

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Crude prices on Thursday saw gains as a USA official reportedly said there are no plans to release oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, despite some speculation that the government would use the emergency reserve to cap further price gains.

That, analysts said, bodes well for overall demand for crude oil to keep increasing, driven by emerging markets and continued growth in the global economy. "This increases the growth prospects not only for Canada and the US, but for North America as a whole".

Washington's sanctions are set to start on November 4, and analysts say there may not be enough spare production capacity in the short-term to meet demand, potentially requiring large storage drawdowns.

Several major buyers in India and China have signaled that they will cut purchases of Iranian oil.

"It shows that the market is not convinced about the ability of the producers' group to replace Iranian barrels", said Tamas Varga, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates London. China's Sinopec said it had halved loadings of Iranian oil in September.

S&P Global Ratings has revised up its 2019 Brent crude oil price forecast to US$70 (RM289.80) a barrel, from an initial forecast of US$65 a barrel, on supply concerns.

Head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage in Singapore Stephen Innes said even if Saudi Arabia, wanted to grant Trump's wishes, it is uncertain how much spare capacity the kingdom has.

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