Oil boosted by Iran fears, remains below multi-year highs

Oil boosted by Iran fears, remains below multi-year highs

Brent crude futures, the worldwide benchmark for oil prices, were at $78.30 per barrel up 7 cents from their last close and not far off a three-and-a-half year high of $78.53 a barrel reached the previous session, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $71.02 a barrel, up 6 cents and also not far off their November 2014 high of $71.89 a barrel reached last week, Reuters reported.

Oil prices hit a 3-1/2-year high on Tuesday, supported by tight supply and planned USA sanctions against Iran that are likely to restrict crude oil exports from one of the biggest producers in the Middle East. Brent crude oil LCOc1 reached $79.22 a barrel, up 99 cents and its highest since November 2014.

The difference between the two grades briefly widened to more than $8 a barrel, the widest gap since April 2015, reflecting surging US crude supplies and a greater geopolitical risk to Brent-based crudes.

Of course, not everyone is as cool headed as Pradhan or Mazroui: Claudio Descalzi, CEO of Italian oil and gas giant ENI, told CNBC that "The impact is more for the crude oil price, because Iran now is exporting about 2.6 million barrels [per day], and if we go back to the first sanctions, they were exporting 1.5 million". "Brent is pricing in the idea that all the risk to supplies is overseas - there's a concern that all the supplies that are tight in Europe are only going to get tighter".

Saudi Arabia, OPEC's de-facto leader, last month pumped the least crude since the output-cut deal began in early 2017.

Crude futures hit the highs as the markets anticipated a sharp fall in Iranian crude supply once US sanctions take effect later this year.

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Since the accord was reached at the end of 2016, oil prices have climbed to their highest in almost four years to exceed $77 a barrel, up from $30 in early 2016.

WTI light sweet oil was up 57 cents at USD71.52 a barrel, having touched the highest in 4 years. As the dollar strengthens, investors can retreat from dollar-denominated commodities like oil.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced the dissolution of the nuclear deal with Iran and promised to impose tough sanctions against Tehran.

OPEC, for its part, estimated that the excess oil inventories in the OECD had shrunk to just 9 million barrels. Yesterday, the Energy Information Administration said it expected shale oil production to hit 7.178 million barrels daily next month thanks to a record-high monthly increase of 144,000 bpd. The production growth may be far from over, contributing to US crude┬┤s discount to Brent, analysts said.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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