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08 August 2018, 08:59 | Hattie Nash
A man pumps gas into his car at a gas station in Caracas Venezuela
It is still almost three months until US sanctions on Iran'soil exports snap back into force, but they are already having a big impact on the Persian Gulf country's trade.
US crude futures fell more than $1 per barrel to $68.13 after China said it was retaliating against USA tariffs by slapping additional import duties of 25 percent on $16 billion worth of USA goods, including oil and diesel.
Iran's exports of crude and condensate, a form of light oil extracted from gas fields, were down by 430,000 bpd, or 15%, in July compared with April, the last month before President Trump announced that he was pulling the US out of the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposing sanctions.
The market was also bolstered by a report on Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute, which said crude inventories fell by 6 million barrels in the week to August 3 to 407.2 million.
China's July crude oil imports recovered slightly in July after falling for the previous two months, but were still among the lowest this year due to a drop-off in demand from the country's smaller independent, or "teapot", refineries.
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USA sanctions on Iran's energy sector are set to be re-imposed after a 180-day "wind-down period" ending on November 4.
Other sanctions, including those targeting Iranian crude, will resume in November.
All the Persian Gulf oil exporters such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, and Bahrain, ship their crude oil to the worldwide market through the Strait of Hormuz. The US will also target business conducted by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran. Will the US-China War now take now escalate even further as Beijing refuses to cease business with Tehran?
West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, shed 2% to $67.70 per barrel after the Ministry of Commerce released a new list of American goods that will be subject to tariffs.
"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.
Observers have dismissed Trump's call for Saudi Arabia to abruptly increase oil production as political "noise".
Production from the unofficial leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) unexpectedly fell in July by 200,000 from a month earlier to 10.29 million barrels per day, sourcestoldReuters on Friday.
EIA also reported on Wednesday that USA oil production declined to 10.9 million barrels per day during the week ending July 27, dropping from its record high level of 11 million barrels per day. Nationwide inventories in the United States probably fell 3 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts before government data due on Wednesday. China is the only one that has flatly refused to reduce its intake of Iranian crude although it did say it will not expand its Iranian imports.
Market participants will look for signals on U.S. inventory levels from a preliminary report due for release by the American Petroleum Institute later Tuesday. Some analysts warned that a global heat wave could also now affect oil demand.
This mostly affects demand for power fuels such as thermal coal and natural gas. Prices could easily soar if tensions rise and violence spills over into the oil market.
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This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
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