Oil Prices Climb Ahead of US Sanctions on Iran

Brent for November settlement climbed as much as 62 cents to $77.45 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange

Brent for November settlement climbed as much as 62 cents to $77.45 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange

The Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, said on Tuesday that Russia and a group of producers around the Middle East, which dominate OPEC, might sign a new long-term cooperation deal at the beginning of December, the TASS news agency reported.

Brent rose above $80 per barrel during the previous session for the first time since May, spurred by expectations that U.S. sanctions against Iran's oil exports, which will start in November, will tighten global markets.

"Market participants are now evaluating this development in conjunction with potential for further declines in oil output from Iran and Venezuela, which portrays a significantly bullish picture on prices", said Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy in London.

Oil traders were also watching the progress of category 4 Hurricane Florence, which is expected to make landfall in the United States by Friday.

Crude oil prices gained traction on Tuesday and finally staged a decisive recovery with the barrel of West Texas Intermediate breaking above the $69 mark.

Since spring when the President Donald Trump administration said it would impose sanctions on Iran, crude traders have priced in a risk premium reflecting the supply shortages that may occur when exports from the third-largest OPEC member are cut.

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Russian energy minister Alexander Novak on Wednesday warned of the impact of US sanctions against Iran. "This is a huge uncertainty on the market - how countries, which buy nearly 2 million barrels per day of Iranian oil, will act".

Gordon Gray, HSBC's global head of oil and gas equity research, told CNBC: "While we aren't explicitly forecasting Brent to rise to $100 a barrel, we see real risks of this happening".

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, in its monthly oil market report for September released on Wednesday, said crude oil production from Nigeria rose to 1.71 million barrels per day in August from 1.53 million bpd the previous month. Oil production has been hit by attacks on oil facilities and blockades, though a year ago it partially recovered to around one million barrels per day. The IEA said crude output fell in August by 150,000 bpd from July to a 25-month low of 3.63 million bpd, while exports fell by 280,000 bpd to 1.9 million bpd, from a peak of around 2.5 million bpd in May.

"World demand will average 98.82 million bpd in 2018, a demand growth of 1.62 million bpd", said S&P.

A six-country monitoring committee overseeing the OPEC/non-OPEC supply accord will meet September 23 in Algiers to assess market fundamentals and potentially make output policy recommendations.

WTI was pushed over $70 during the previous session due to falling crude inventory and production levels.

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