Oil climbed for a third straight session on Tuesday to mark another fresh high for the year, as traders reacted to tougher action against Iran’s oil market from the U.S.
West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery, CLM9, +1.27% on its first full session as a front-month contract, added 75 cents, or 1.1%, to settle at $66.30 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
June Brent crude LCOM9, +0.74% the global benchmark, tacked on 47 cents, or 0.6%, at $74.51 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.
Both WTI and Brent tallied their highest front-month contract settlements since late October.
Crude’s latest rise extends Monday’s rally on the heels the U.S. decision to end waivers for countries importing Iranian oil, as part of a bid by the Trump administration to push Iran’s exports to zero. The current waivers expire on May 2.
Read: The end of Iranian oil waivers and what it means for the OPEC-led output cut pact
Goldman Sachs, in a note, declared the 3% rise in prices “modest” considering the amount of output in question and reflective of “a much-greater confidence in available spare capacity.” The investment bank, for now, is sticking with its prediction that Brent will fall back toward $65 later this year.
Many doubted that Trump would actually let the waivers expire “because of his concerns about the impact of rising gas[oline] prices on the average American,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group, in a daily note. “The move is an attempt to deny Iran its principal source of revenue from oil, but it could have larger ramifications on the overall market as it is unclear that the loss of Iranian oil will easily be made up.”
The Trump administration has said that other OPEC members such as Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. will ensure adequate oil supplies, but those countries “are still seething from the fact that…Trump granted waivers to Iranian oil buyers in the first place, after they both raised output to replace oil from sanctions that never really happened. They lost billions and are not happy. So they will not raise output pre-emptively,” said Flynn.
Saudi officials said the kingdom had committed to increase output to offset Iran’s losses if needed. But it has not committed to a time frame or amount.
Meanwhile, sanctions on Venezuela have also been contributing to supply jitters recently. Chatter has included speculation that tighter sanctions against Iran and Venezuela could trigger an end to the production-cut agreement among members and some nonmembers of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. That deal, in which OPEC and its allies agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels a day, expires in June. Analysts say that deal has been helping to keep prices stable against the backdrop of rising U.S. production.
In a Monday note, Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, said she doesn’t expect Iran to be entirely eliminated from the oil market overnight, but the decision to allow waivers on Iran oil sanctions to expire will likely cause around 700,000 to 800,000 barrels a day to come off the market in the near term.
Given the expected loss of oil in the market, “producers must be willing to return almost all the amount they decided to cut in December if they want to eliminate the effects of Washington’s decision,” said Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst with JFD Group.
Back in the U.S., the market awaited weekly government data on domestic petroleum supplies. The Energy Information Administration is expected to reveal a fall of 500,000 barrels in crude stockpiles for the week ended April 12, according to a survey of analysts polled by S&P Global Platts. The survey also forecasts supply declines of 1.1 million barrels for gasoline and 1 million barrels for distillates.
Back on Nymex, May gasoline RBK9, +0.12% rose less than 0.1% to $2.132 a gallon and May heating oil HOK9, +0.69% climbed by 0.7% to $2.118 a gallon.
Read: Gas prices hit $4.70 a gallon in California as Trump says he’ll end Iran sanction waivers
May natural gas NGK19, -2.69% settled at $2.455 per million British thermal units, down 2.7%.
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