Published: Fri, September 21, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Oil prices drop as escalating U.S.-China trade war…

Oil prices drop as escalating U.S.-China trade war…

However, potential supply cuts caused by USA sanctions on Iran, the third-largest producer among the members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are providing some support for oil prices.

Brent crude futures (LCOc1) were down 15 cents at $78.88 a barrel by 1116 GMT, having gained 1.3 percent on Tuesday following media reports that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, was comfortable with prices above $80.

The barrel of West Texas Intermediate marched higher toward the $70 mark during the first half of the day but reversed its course in the NA session as the latest trade headlines raised concerns over the potential negative impact of the U.S. - China trade conflict on the world oil demand.

Saudi Arabia, Russia and other major exporting countries are scheduled to meet Sunday in Algiers to review the oil market.

OPEC Secretary-General Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo says that "Iran is not only a founding member of OPEC, it's a very important member of this organization".

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The warning came from the group's top official as looming unilateral US sanctions on oil sales by Iran, OPEC's third-biggest supplier, are scheduled to take effect on November 4.

Prices pared gains in post-settlement trade after data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed USA crude inventories rose by 1.2 million barrels in the week to September 14 to 397.1 million, compared with analysts' expectations for a decrease of 2.7 million barrels.

He didn't address how the global oil industry immediately can replace Iranian crude supplies in an already-tight market.

Crushing U.S. oil sanctions on Iran will resume in early November and already, American allies in Asia are cutting back on their purchases of Iranian crude.

Official U.S. government data is due to be released on Wednesday.

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Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing unnamed Saudi sources, the kingdom was now comfortable with prices above $80 per barrel, at least for the short-term.

Saudi Arabia has mentioned several times recently that they have no desire to push oil prices over $80/barrel, a move higher may be unavoidable as United States sanctions on Iran are set to come into effect beginning November 4th.

"Iranian crude oil export loadings have declined by 580,000 barrels per day in the past three months", Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said in a note to clients on Monday.

Beijing on Tuesday quickly added US$60 billion of U.S. products to its import tariff list in retaliation for President Donald Trump's planned levies on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

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