Trump has options if markets panic on Iran

The three different gas prices at the gas station

Gas prices at the pump Getty Images iStock

Adding to the impact of OPEC-led cuts, the US decision to withdraw from an worldwide nuclear deal with OPEC member Iran and to renew sanctions has raised concerns about Iranian oil exports, helping drive prices higher. "Oil prices could rise at least $10 (a barrel), with Brent approaching near $90", Akuta said. But oil ministers have since said other metrics should be considered such as oil industry investment, suggesting they are in no hurry to end supply cuts.

At 11:20 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, both WTI and Brent prices were surging almost 3 percent, with Brent touching $77 a barrel, following President Trump's withdrawal from the Iran deal and EIA's weekly inventory report showing draws across the board.

Oil prices eased from 3-1/2-year highs on Monday as resistance emerged in Europe and Asia to US sanctions against major crude exporter Iran, while rising USA drilling pointed to higher North American production.

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USA sanctions on Iran will include a six-month deadline for buyers to wind up operations in Iran, meaning any loss of supply will not immediately affect the market.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 7 cents at $71.29 a barrel, still not far off Thursday's November 2014 high of $71.89 per barrel.

Both oil futures contracts hit their highest since November 2014 last week at $78 and $71.89 a barrel respectively as markets anticipated a sharp fall in Iranian crude supply once USA sanctions bite later this year. But its oil minister said on Thursday that Trump's decision to quit the pact would not affect Tehran's exports.

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A Saudi energy ministry official said that Saudi Arabia "will work with major producers and consumers within and outside OPEC to limit the impact of any supply shortages".

He tweeted on Tuesday that "Donald Trump simultaneously lied about the Iranian nuclear deal, undermined global confidence in USA commitments, alienated our closest allies, strengthened Iranian hawks, & gave North Korea more reason to keep its nukes".

The production growth may be far from over, contributing to USA crude's discount to Brent, analysts said.

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The OPEC report said oil inventories in OECD industrialised nations in March fell to 9 million barrels above the five-year average, down from 340 million barrels above the average in January 2017. Prices dropped 66 cents to $70.70 on Friday.

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