US grants 8 countries Iran sanctions waivers

Oil price falls to $75 from high of $86

Rouhani: Iran does not fear new US sanctions on energy, banking sectors

According to sources in the know, India is close to a deal with the United States that will allow it to continue buying crude oil from Iran without attracting any sanction after it agreed to cut imports and escrow payments.

Oil is also under pressure from rising output by the world's biggest producers, Russia, the USA and Saudi Arabia, which are helping to replenish global oil inventories after more than a year of stock draws.

Goldman Sachs said it expects Iran's crude oil exports to fall to 1.15 million bpd by the end of the year, down from around 2.5 million bpd in mid-2018.

The US will reintroduce the new sanctions targeting Iranian oil on Monday and American officials have said Washington does not want to harm friends and allies dependent on the oil.

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"Given these (output) numbers, with Russian Federation pumping hard and the United States and OPEC as well, and we are not really seeing a pickup in demand for another month ... it could indicate we're back to the good old $70-80 range that persisted through April and August", Saxo Bank senior manager Ole Hansen said. While the Trump administration's goal remains to choke off revenue to Iran's economy, waivers are being granted in exchange for continued import cuts so as not to drive up oil prices, said the official, who asked not to be identified before Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announces the number of exemptions later on Friday.

Yet, one thing is clear, and here analysts were right-Iran's top two single largest oil customers, China and India, will continue to import Iranian crude.

However, the waivers seem to be making the sanctions totally irrelevant, as the countries receiving them account for a lion's share of the oil Iran exports. The contract declined 3.4 percent in the past three sessions.

"We think Trump will agree to China importing some volumes, similar to the treatment that India and South Korea receive", Clayton Allen of Height Securities said in a note on Friday.

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- Financial transactions. Starting on Monday, any foreign institution that does business with Iran's central bank or other banks in the country will lose access to the USA financial system.

Other countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan, also depend on some imports from Iran.

"While the gain in US crude inventories was in line with the market expectation, it's still a sixth consecutive week of increase on the back of rising American production", Takayuki Nogami, chief economist at Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp., said by phone from Tokyo.

Iran on Friday said that the waivers granted by the United States showed the Iranian crude was needed and could not be withdrawn from the market.

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Russian Federation has been planning to import oil from Tehran but no major projects have materialized.

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