Saturday, 21 July, 2018

Oil prices climb on tightening United States market

Iran's OPEC governor Hossein Kazempour Ardebili Iran's OPEC governor Hossein Kazempour Ardebili
Orlando Vargas | 05 July, 2018, 20:55

US President Donald Trump has been attacking OPEC for keeping oil prices artificially high - but officials in Iran insist that Trump's tweets are driving crude prices higher.

Brent crude LCOc1 was up 46 cents at $77.76 a barrel, after trading as low as $76.67 and as high as $78.85. USA crude futures were up 32 cents at $74.46, within sight of Tuesday's 3-1/2-year high above $75.

On Wednesday he tweeted that OPEC is "doing little to help, " adding that, "if anything, they are driving prices higher".

The president's call to "reduce pricing" was an apparent reference for oil producers to churn out more supply in order to contain spiking oil prices.

Oil surged in the past two weeks as the USA pushes allies to end imports of Iranian crude, disruptions persist in places like Libya and American crude inventories shrink. His latest was a reminder that the USA defends many OPEC members for "very little" money.

A Reuters survey estimated USA crude oil stockpiles fell for a fourth consecutive week, by about 3.3 million barrels, in the week ended June 29. The company said it can pump as much as 3.3 million barrels per day and will boost output to 3.5 million barrels a day by the end of 2018.

Trump has been complaining about OPEC at the same time that Washington is piling pressure on its European allies to stop buying Iranian oil.

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Outside North America, looming US sanctions against major oil exporter Iran were the focus of attention.

Trump wants Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production to offset any lost supply because of what is happening around Iran and the political chaos in Venezuela.

Vijay Valecha, chief market analyst at Century Financial Brokers, said the UAE's crude oil production peaked in October 2016 at 3.13 million bpd and has declined since then in line with the Opec production cuts.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani downplayed the seriousness of the ban, saying he is confident Iran will survive this round of United States sanctions as it has other sanctions in the past.

But Tehran has threatened to take drastic action on the oil supply in retaliation against Trump's attempt to curb its exports.

Iran has threatened to block oil exports through a key Gulf waterway in retaliation against any hostile U.S. action.

Iran's deputy commander of the Sarollah Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday that any attempt to thwart its oil exports will result in the closure of Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, where the world's biggest concentration of tankers carry about 30 percent of all seaborne-traded crude oil and other liquids during the year.

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