Oil Rises as 'Alarm Bells' Sound Over Unraveling Iran Nuke Deal

02 May, 2018, 01:38 | Author: Martin Tyler
  • Short Sellers Circle Oil and Gas Stocks as Crude Price Climbs

Oil prices were little changed on Friday, with Brent on track for its third week of gains amid supply concerns should the United States reimpose sanctions on Iran.

The oil price rallied after Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, accused Iran of lying "big time" about a secretive nuclear weapons programme, ratcheting up tensions in a region that controls nearly half the world's oil.

The decision of whether to restore the sanctions on Iran that were lifted after an agreement over its disputed nuclear program will be made by US President Donald Trump on May 12.

Crude has rallied this month amid heightened geopolitical tensions and Trump's indications that he might scrap the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

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US drillers added five oil rigs this week, bringing the total count to 825, the highest level since March 2015, General Electric Co's Baker Hughes energy services firm said. The renewed sanctions would likely dampen Iranian oil exports, disrupting global oil supply.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate and international-benchmark Brent crude oil are trading lower early Monday, but continue to hover close to their almost three-year highs reached earlier in the month.

"We'll see oil fluctuating as uncertainties will persist over whether Trump will withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement", Vincent Hwang, a commodities analyst at NH Investment & Securities, said by phone in Seoul. "We therefore see oil prices as being well supported". The global benchmark crude traded at a US$6.43 premium to June WTI.

Gasoline futures rose 0.1 percent to settle at $2.1292 a gallon on Monday, the highest since August.

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Hedge funds and other money managers cut their combined net long position in the six most important futures and options contracts linked to petroleum by six million barrels in the week to April 24. Only Russia now produces more, at around 11 million bpd.

Growing U.S. crude production and stockpiles have weighed on the market. US crude production rose by 46,000 BPD the previous week, to 10.59 MMBPD.

In the USA, working oil rigs rose by five last week to 825, the highest level since March 2015, according to data from Baker Hughes.

Because of the tighter market, the forward curve for Brent is now above $70 per barrel until the end of 2018, and prices are above $60 per barrel through 2020.

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In a research note, the financial technology and analytics firm claimed that short interest in the U.S./Canadian oil and gas and consumable fuel sector has increased by 27% to $54.9 billion since WTI crude recovered from its year-to-date low of $58.98 in mid-February to reach $67.75.

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