U.S. reconsiders 'zero tolerance' policy on Iran oil imports


In its latest review last month, the Energy Regulatory Commission lowered oil prices on the backdrop of a 1.6 per cent fall in the average cost of Brent crude oil to $75.05 per barrel in August from $76.3 in July.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton also delivered a clear message to India about Iranian oil, commenting that it is the United States' objective that there will be no waivers from the sanctions regarding exports of Iranian oil and gas. Notable crude such as Benchmark Brent has gained 30 cents per barrel (currently at Dollars 84.90) after falling USD 1.34 per barrel on Thursday.

"Fundamental dynamics have shifted in favor of the bears this week with a huge build in commercial crude oil stocks and news that Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation made a private agreement weeks ago to increase output to help offset the declining exports from Iran", said Tyler Richey, co-editor of the Stevens Report.

Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf read the final say of the court which obliged the U.S.to "remove by means of its choosing any impediments arising from the measures announced on May 8 to the free exportation to Iran of medicines and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities" as well as airplane parts.

The billion-dollar question for the month is definitely who will fill in the gap for the Iranian oil that is about to be removed from the market due to another phase of US sanctions.

India, second only to China in its purchases of Iranian oil, said last week that it would buy nine million barrels from Iran in a different currency from the USA dollar.

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Last week, India reduced gasoline and diesel prices to give relief to consumers against rising global crude prices caused by uncertainty over USA sanctions on Iran and OPEC's decision to raise output.

The United States plans to impose new sanctions targeting Iran's oil sector on November 4 to try to stop the country's involvement in conflicts in Syria and Iraq and bring Tehran to the negotiating table over its ballistic missile program. The kingdom is willing to tap all of its spare capacity, Mr Al-Falih said.

"Near-term spare capacity is effectively maxed out", said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at consultant Energy Aspects Ltd.

The US president has been putting pressure on Opec's largest producer Saudi Arabia to pump more, even going as far as threatening the military alliance between the two countries that has underpinned the balance of power in the Persian Gulf for decades. "It now appears that only China and Turkey may be willing to risk US retaliation by transacting with Iran".

Novak is not alone in predicting prices may return to three-digit levels last seen in 2014. Speculators have built bullish long positions on hopes of further price rise.