Trump Intervention Unsettles Oil Markets

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The US statement last week that it would end Iran sanction waivers given to eight oil importing countries in last November this week, put the oil on the boil with crude prices jumping after a period of relative stability.

US officials say overall global oil supply will remain plentiful despite its sanctions, not least from the boom in USA shale.

Sweden's SEB says Beijing could lift its imports of Iranian crude in the coming months from some 600,000 barrels per day in March to around 1 million bpd, bucking US pressure, while exports elsewhere under the sanctions radar could reach another 500,000 bpd.

Mohammad Ali Hosseini, a former Foreign Ministry spokesman, has said that if Iran's oil sale is stopped more than one country will be harmed. This decision comes at a time when the price of the Indian crude basket - an average of the Dubai, Oman and Brent crude benchmarks - has been rising, and the country is in the middle of Lok Sabha elections.

Brent crude futures were at $71.80 per barrel at 0215 GMT, down 35 cents, or 0.5 per cent, from their last close.

Saudi Arabia, the world's top crude exporter, has also said it had no immediate plans to raise oil output after the sanctions waivers end.

The sting of the Trump administration's decision not to re-issue waivers on Iran oil sanctions faded on Friday with crude prices dropping more than 3% following comments from the United States president. The kingdom opened the taps a year ago when the Trump administration promised to crack down on Iran, only to see Washington take a softer approach at the last minute.

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The current stand-off between buyers and sellers comes down partly to uncertainty over just how much Iranian crude may still flow, crucially to top consumer China, after the May 1 deadline the US has imposed for importers to halt purchases.

Analysts at Kotak also expect global oil markets to tighten further in the near term due to the full curtailment of Iran's oil exports and the possibility of disruptions in crude supplies from Libya given escalating unrest in the country. He saw the prices at the gas pump continue to rise in recent weeks and chose to call the oil cartel OPEC. Ultimately, the kingdom will probably "lead efforts to prevent the oil market from over-tightening".

But analysts say that the U.S. getting anywhere close its stated goal of reducing Iranian crude exports to zero are slim to none, and the impact of other events weighing on the price - such as political risk in Libya and Venezuela - have been overstated.

"I told them: you have to bring fuel prices down", Trump said.

Data shows that the first eleven months of fiscal year 2018-19 saw Iran's share in India's crude oil imports at 9 per cent.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday that markets are now adequately supplied, adding that it will continue to monitor the oil market closely and stands ready to act if necessary to ensure markets remain well supplied.