Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Lower oil prices or we will not ‘defend’ you

Lower oil prices or we will not ‘defend’ you

US President Donald Trump has been attacking OPEC for keeping oil prices artificially high - but officials in Iran insist that Trump's tweets are driving crude prices higher.

The US president has spent recent months putting pressure on the Opec cartel, which pumps about a third of the world's crude oil, to reduce prices by increasing its output and yesterday he accused its members of "doing little to help".

In response, Ardebili warned, "Your tweets have driven the prices up by at least $10 per barrel".

The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark for the price of oil, was up 1.32 percent as of 9:15 a.m. EDT to $78.32 per barrel.

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"With contentious midterm U.S. elections looming, the President continues to strong-arm Saudi Arabia to increase oil supplies which, at least for now, is containing price action below WTI $75 per barrel", said Stephen Innes, Head of Trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA. And yet, you are asking them to reduce the prices?!

"Because it's driving season, you expect a lot of crude to go through refineries right now - so that's why we were looking for a draw", said Gene McGillian, vice president of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. His latest was a reminder that the United States defends many OPEC members for "very little" money.

On Tuesday, crude closed near 78 dollars per barrel, driven higher by a sharp drop in USA inventories and the expectation of more drivers hitting the road for the July 4 holiday.

"With renewed geopolitical risk factors likely to stimulate concerns of supply disruptions, oil prices have scope to extend gains in the near term", Otunuga added.

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Outside North America, looming USA sanctions against major oil exporter Iran were the focus of attention. "Since when did you start ordering OPEC!"

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, meanwhile, said on Wednesday that Tehran might block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, a major route for transporting crude in the Gulf.

The cartel, in partnership with Russian Federation, has restricted oil supply for over a year to support the price per barrel after a period of sharp decline from recent highs, which caused economic turmoil for member states.

A blockade of the strait, through which roughly 30 percent of all seaborne oil travels, would have "dramatic consequences for global oil supply and an impact on prices that is nearly impossible to put into figures", Commerzbank said in a note.

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