Oil prices fall as US-China trade war clouds demand outlook

18 Septembre, 2018, 15:23 | Auteur: Auguste Feret

Oil prices edged lower yesterday as investors focused on deepening trade tension between the United States (U.S.) and China that is expected to dent global crude demand, but losses were limited as the market weighed potential supply tightening due to Iran sanctions.

Pump jacks operate in front of a drilling rig in an oil field in Midland, Texas U.S. August 22, 2018. Iran is the OPEC's No.3 oil producer.

Brent crude oil was up 70 cents a barrel at $78.79 by 1345 GMT. He also slammed other OPEC members for welcoming the US sanctions against Tehran and taking advantage of the situation to boost their production.

"Oil is pushing higher on widespread expectations of Iranian supply shortages", said Stephen Brennock, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil.

He did not specify how crude producers would compensate for declining exports from Iran, with new United States sanctions due to hit the Islamic republic's oil industry on November 4.

Iranian crude oil export loadings have declined by 580,000 bpd in the past three months, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said in a note to clients.

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The head of OPEC said Tuesday that Iran remains "a very important member" of the oil cartel, as Tehran braces for a new round of USA sanctions partially targeting its crude exports.

A leading Iranian official said on Saturday that Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation had taken the oil market "hostage" and accused other producers of turning the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries into "a USA tool".

Iran is the third-largest OPEC producer.

However, the recovery gains are likely to be limited, as markets remain unnerved ahead of the USA tariffs announcement on $ 200 billion worth of Chinese imports, which could trigger a renewed risk-aversion wave across the financial markets.

However, potential supply cuts caused by USA sanctions on Iran, the third-largest producer among the members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are providing some support for oil prices.

Also weighing on oil prices, US drillers added two oil rigs in the week to December 1, bringing the total count up to 749, the highest since September, Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday.

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