Oil Slips as OPEC Seen Able to Offset Iran Losses From Sanctions

Oil held losses below $71 as OPEC signaled it has enough spare capacity to mitigate any impact on markets even if renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran curbs exports from the group’s third-largest producer.

Futures in New York fell as much as 0.5 percent after sliding 0.9 percent Friday. Three members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates — together have enough capacity to act as a cushion, the U.A.E. energy minister said. Meanwhile, Iran called for clarity over its nuclear deal with world powers, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 pact.

Oil has extended a rally this month to the highest level in more than three years as Trump’s decision to walk away from the Iranian nuclear accord fueled tensions in the energy-rich Middle East and raised concerns over supply disruptions. Investors are now weighing signals from OPEC and its allies to see whether they will end a deal to cut production aimed at shrinking a glut, or seek an extension to further prop up prices.

The remarks from Middle East producers “did force investors to look a little bit more closer at the impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran and certainly there’s some questions about the impact that we’ll eventually see,” Daniel Hynes, a senior commodities strategist at the Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., said by phone from Sydney. “For the moment, investors are cautious to any sort of supply disruption, considering the tightness that we’re seeing.”

West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery traded 25 cents lower at $70.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11:30 a.m. in Singapore. Prices dropped 66 cents to $70.70 on Friday. Total volume traded was about 20 percent below the 100-day average.

Brent for July settlement slipped 38 cents to $76.74 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract declined 0.5 percent to $77.12 on Friday. The global benchmark crude traded at a $6.31 premium to July WTI.

Also read: OPEC’s Output Deal Will Shrug Off Iran Sanctions: Julian Lee

Futures for September delivery were down 1.1 percent at 466.1 yuan a barrel in morning trading on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange. The contract closed 1.1 percent lower on Friday.

While forecasts vary from “little impact” anticipated by Barclays Plc to losses of 500,000 to 1.5 million barrels a day predicted by BMI Research and consultant FGE, U.A.E. Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei said “don’t worry about supply.” OPEC has an adequate “buffer” of potential production to offset barrels lost from a re-imposition of Iranian sanctions, he said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Abu Dhabi. He serves this year as the group’s president.

In Beijing, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the Asian nation’s invitation, marking his first stop on a diplomatic tour after the U.S. withdrew from the nuclear deal. The two parties didn’t disclose whether the world’s biggest crude importer will scale back purchases in light of the renewed sanctions. Zarif is scheduled to meet the British, French and German foreign ministers this week.

Other oil-market news:

  • European countries and companies that continue to do business with Iran could face U.S. sanctions, National Security Adviser John Bolton said Sunday.
  • Iran can shift 1 million barrels a day of Europe-bound oil exports to Asia, mostly to China and India, Cinda Securities analysts Guo Jingpu and Chen Shuxian wrote in a note dated May 11.
  • The U.S. added 10 working oil rigs last week, with the total number rising to the highest since March 2015, according to data from Baker Hughes.
  • Hedge funds reduced their WTI net-long position — the difference between bets on a price increase and wagers on a drop — by 1.8 percent to 410,608 futures and options during the week ended May 8, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  • The Cboe/Nymex Oil Volatility Index dropped 3.3 percent on Friday to the lowest level since April 6.

— With assistance by Tsuyoshi Inajima

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