Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

India expected to keep buying Iranian oil despite sanctions by US

The Kiira EV Smack was built by students of Makerere University. FILE Ugandan-made Kiira EV Smack. Tehran has been keen to fund Kampala’s Kiira Electronic Vehicle Project
Elsie Buchanan | 10 October, 2018, 08:54

The news of India's continued importation of Iranian crude had a positive effect on oil prices, with Brent crude down 1.6% to $82.79 at the time of writing on Monday morning.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was down by 16 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $74.8 a barrel, after rising almost 1 percent in the previous session.

India is the world's third-largest oil importer, and Iran's second-biggest oil customer after China.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month said that on November 4th the sanctions against Iran will be enforced and that the US will consider waivers for countries that bring their Iranian oil purchases down to zero.

Iran's economy is expected to shrink by 1.5 percent in 2018 and by another 3.6 percent in 2019, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in the October update of its World Economic Outlook, heavily downgrading the Islamic Republic's growth prospects with the return of the USA sanctions.

That is down from at least 2.5 million bpd in April, before President Donald Trump in May withdrew the USA from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions.

While the persistent fear of a supply shortfall triggered by sanctions on Iran coming into effect by early November had provided the market the thrust upwards, the huge flow of speculative capital prompted by worries over supplies has created huge net-long futures positions for financial investors which has exerted an exaggerated price action.

Sri Lanka, a country closely watched by the United States is expected to raise oil prices again by Wednesday midnight under the fuel price formula in line with increasing global prices.

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The details provided by Refinitiv Eikon showed the Islamic Republic exported 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude last week. Of the 220.4 million metric tonnes (million MT) of crude oil imported by India in 2017-18, about 9.4% was from Iran.

"There is growing concern that suppliers such as Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation will struggle to compensate for potential production declines from Iran and Venezuela, which has supported oil prices in today's trading session", said Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy in London.

She said the sanctions that would come into force on 4 November were created to bring Tehran to book and not to penalise India, which meets 83% of its crude oil requirements from outside. This would signal an attempt to bypass US sanctions on Iranian transactions using the dollar - the dominant currency in global oil trade.

Oil prices edged lower on Wednesday after the International Monetary Fund lowered its global growth forecasts but prices were supported as Hurricane Michael churned toward Florida, causing the shutdown of almost 40 percent of U.S. Gulf of Mexico crude output.

But Innes warned that limited spare production to deal with further supply disruptions meant "the capacity is quickly declining due to Asia's insatiable demand".

Meanwhile, producers in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday cut oil production by about 40 percent as Hurricane Michael approached the Florida coast, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said, citing reports from 27 companies.

Several models call for the Hurricane to miss major producing assets in the Gulf, but any change of track could widen the impact.

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