Saturday, 26 May, 2018

Crude oil slips ahead of Trump decision on Iran

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Russell Knight | 13 May, 2018, 04:09

November looks set to be the biggest deadline, when sanctions on Iran's central bank and oil industry, among others, will be reimposed.

It's not clear that pricey crude will slow down the economy, however.

The US has, however, a long reach when it comes to forcing foreign companies to comply with its sanctions regime, and has previously slapped massive fines on European companies for breaking them. In fact, in February this year, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani came to New Delhi with his oil minister Bijan Zanganeh to deepen strategic relations.

Payment terms do not pose a problem as settlement of Chinese transactions with Iran are limited to telegraphic transfer (TT), cash or euro credit, although some restrictions were introduced in 2017 on the use of letters of credits (LCs) on Iranian transactions.

In December 2016, Royal Dutch Shell signed a provisional agreement to develop the Iranian oil and gas fields in South Azadegan, Yadavaran and Kish. "Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States".

Over the past four years, Iran accounted for an average of 8.1% of China's crude imports; 17.5% of its PE imports; and 35.6% of methanol imports, according to official data.

"The snap-back of USA sanctions will have a major effect on shipowners and their insurers and Skuld and the IG are closely monitoring developments", Skuld said on its website.

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Though Trump's decision to leave what he called the "disastrous" deal was praised widely in Israel, the accord's other signatories - Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China - have signaled their commitment to upholding the pact.

Still, "oil is trading around $70 as the market is factoring in the possibility that the US will unilaterally terminate the Iran deal and reimpose sanctions".

Mnuchin said that the new sanctions would allow countries doing business with Iran to wind down those activities in either 90 or 180 days, depending on the type of products being sanctioned. With Germany, France and Britain saying they are committed to the accord, the European countries will "continue importing oil from Iran, albeit having to side-step the USA banking system for trade purposes", it said. "So, cutting imports from a single supplier will not be a problem", he added.

The threat of new sanctions comes amid an oil market that has already been tightening due to strong demand, especially in Asia, and as top exporter Saudi Arabia and No.1 producer Russian Federation have led efforts since 2017 to withhold oil supplies to prop up prices.

President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran marks the end of the current output agreement between OPEC and its allies. On 9 May, both the USA and Brent crude futures surged by more than $2/bbl on 9 May, with strong expectations that the gains would continue.

He said he did not expect oil prices to rise sharply because he sees other countries boosting production. That effectively shut the country's own fleet out of the main ship-insurance market as well as worldwide owners if they wanted to lift the Islamic Republic's crude.

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