Oil prices buoyed by persistent Middle East tensions

Robyn Valdez
October 19, 2017

Oil prices have remained stable, continuing with previous gains made due to the ongoing conflict between Iraqi and Kurdish forces that can cut off crude supplies from northern Iraq, as well as the continued political tension between the U.S. and Iran. If prices remain high the outlook may be positive for breakbulk operators serving the oil sector as the higher price point supports renewed investment in offshore development.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has a compliance rate with their output cut pledges of about 86%, the executive director of the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday. Iraq, the second-largest producer in the Opec, pumps most of its 4.47 million barrels a day from fields in the south and ships it from the Persian Gulf port of Basra.

"In the case of Iran, there are likely no immediate impacts on oil flows and there remains high uncertainty on potential reintroduction of U.S. secondary sanctions".

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The higher prices came as Iraqi government forces captured the major Kurdish-held oil city of Kirkuk on Monday, responding to a Kurdish independence referendum.

Goldman Sachs said the Kirkuk cluster of oil fields, which pump about 500,000 bbl/d and extend from the autonomous Kurdistan region into northern Iraq, were at risk from the conflict.

Short-term market metrics lingering from a US hurricane gave support to crude oil prices Wednesday, even though balance seemed slow to emerge.

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Bank of America-Merrill Lynch said last week the spread, or difference, between WTI and Brent, the global benchmark, is what made USA crude oil competitive.

On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he was officially withdrawing his certification of Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal, in what is being billed as part of a tougher strategy on Iran. "The latest bout of geopolitical premium to strike the energy complex remains alive and well as oil prices build on recent gains", said Stephen Brennock, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates. The cuts are likely to be shared again by non-OPEC members led by top oil producer Russian Federation, which lessened output joining OPEC from January.

As expected, crude oil prices filled the gap higher yesterday at $52.37, and prices reached the resistance area as mentioned earlier that this would be a crucial place. It last stood at $7,110.5.

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Australian shares .axjo extended their winning streak to a fourth straight session to rise 0.6 percent, while Japan's Nikkei .n225 rallied for a sixth day to the highest since November 1996.

Other reports by Info About Network

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