Oil Surges Above $80 Amidst Iran Concerns


Brent crude is edging towards $80 per barrel as USA stockpiles fall and amid worries of potential oil supply disruptions from Venezuela and Iran.

Global inventories of crude oil and refined products dropped sharply in recent months due to robust demand and production cuts by the world's top producing countries.

Around 5:45 a.m. ET Brent reached a high of $80.18 per barrel, marking the first time since November 2014 it has passed above that mark. So far this year Brent accumulates a rise of 19.9% compared to 66.87 dollars marked at end of year 2017.

The oil market retained support from the concerns over USA sanctions on Iran as traders bet it would reduce global crude supplies. India, the third-largest consumer of oil after the US and China, would be especially hard-hit if prices keep rising.

Still, even more cautious analysts admit that the OPEC+ production cut deal has served its objective and global oil supply is a lot tighter than it was just two years ago.

Crude oil prices were unchanged forming a doji day which is a sign of indecision.

In less than two years, new regulations from the International Maritime Organization, created to curb air pollution, are to come into force. For its part, Diesel has marked a new annual maximum and levels that were not seen since December 2014 to be in 1.207 euros, a rise of 1.42%, according to data from European Union oil bulletin.

Looking at crude oil more broadly, both prices in the physical market and the futures curve suggests some reason for caution. Since March - when annual lows were recorded and rise began - price of diesel has risen by 7% and gasoline 6.7%.

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WTI's June contract traded at $72.07 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 58 cents, after climbing 18 cents Wednesday.

The two ministers, in a joint statement, blamed volatility in prices on global political tensions.

The US decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran could scare off European investors but oil-thirsty China may step into the void and ramp up business links with the country.

"The restoration of sanctions on Iran, which exports 2.5 million barrels of oil a day and is the world's fifth-largest exporter, may have implications for the market balance", the IEA said.

Beijing now has its sights on the expansion of a major Iranian gas field, with state-owned oil company CNPC set to replace Total if the French energy behemoth withdraws from the project over USA sanctions.

The International Energy Agency said that United States stocks of crude oil shrank 1.4 million barrels.

On the flip side, high oil prices would hurt consumption, the International Energy Agency warned on Wednesday as it lowered its global oil demand growth forecast for 2018 to 1.4 million bpd from 1.5 million bpd.

USA crude inventories (USOILC=ECI) fell by 1.4 million barrels in the week to May 11, compared with analyst expectations for a 763,000 barrel decrease.