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Oil Prices Rise as US Sanctions on Iran Stoke Supply Worries

Brent crude futures rose 66 cents, or nearly 1 percent, to $74.41 per barrel by 12:20 p.m. EDT (1620 GMT) and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 27 cents at $69.28 a barrel.

Reuters

Updated:August 7, 2018, 10:29 PM IST
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Oil Prices Rise as US Sanctions on Iran Stoke Supply Worries
An oil pump jack is seen at sunset in a field outside Scheibenhard, near Strasbourg, France, October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
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New York: Oil prices rose on Tuesday after US sanctions on Iranian goods went into effect, intensifying concerns that sanctions on Iranian oil, expected in November, could cause supply shortages.

Brent crude futures rose 66 cents, or nearly 1 percent, to $74.41 per barrel by 12:20 p.m. EDT (1620 GMT) and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 27 cents at $69.28 a barrel.

Renewed US sanctions against OPEC member Iran officially came into effect at 12:01 a.m. EDT. These sanctions did not include Iran's oil exports. The country exported almost 3 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude in July.

The reimposed sanctions target Iran's US dollar purchases, metals trading, coal, industrial software and its auto sector.

US sanctions on Iran's energy sector are set to be re-imposed after a 180-day "wind-down period" ending on Nov. 4.

"It is a reality check that this is happening and that Iran's oil exports will be hurt when the oil sanctions hit it in November," chief commodities analyst at Commerzbank Bjarne Schieldrop said.

US President Donald Trump tweeted that the sanctions were "the most biting sanctions ever imposed".

"Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States," he added.

Many European countries, China and India, oppose the sanctions, but the US government said it wants as many countries as possible to stop buying Iranian oil.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said his country opposes sanctions on Iran, but will abide by them to protect its own interests.

"The market continues to price in geopolitical risk from the reimposition of sanctions by the US on Iran," said Gene McGillian, vice president of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. "The reports that Saudi Arabia's production actually dropped in July continue to provide support for the market."

Saudi Arabia's crude production dropped about 200,000 bpd last month, two sources at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said on Friday, despite a pledge by the Saudis and top producer Russia to raise output from July, with Saudi Arabia promising a "measurable" supply boost.

Also supporting prices were a weakened dollar, McGillian said.

The dollar index was trading 0.2 percent lower. A weak dollar can lift the price of commodities, like oil, that are priced using the currency.

US crude stockpiles expected to have dropped last week. Data from the American Petroleum Institute for US inventories is due later on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. EDT, followed by the government's report on Wednesday morning.

Heat Impacts Oil

Analysts also warned that a global heatwave could affect oil demand.

Much of the northern hemisphere has been gripped by extreme heat this summer, pushing up demand for industrial and residential cooling.

This mostly affects demand for power fuels such as thermal coal and natural gas.

"With global demand remaining healthy and the global heatwave increasing oil demand, I think prices will remain well-supported in the near term," Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, said.
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