Oil Near 2019 Highs after US Ends All Iran Sanction Exemptions
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Oil prices were near 2019 highs on Tuesday after Washington announced all Iran sanction waivers would end by early May, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran.
Brent crude futures were at $74.40 per barrel at 0239 GMT, up 0.5 percent from their last close and not far off a 2019 peak of $74.52 reached on Monday, Reuters reported.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures hit their highest level since October 2018 at $65.95 per barrel before edging back to $65.89 by 0239 GMT, which was still up 0.5 percent from their last settlement.
The United States on Monday demanded that buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions, ending six months of waivers which allowed Iran’s eight biggest buyers, most of them in Asia, to continue importing limited volumes.
Barclay’s bank said in a note following the announcement that the decision took many market participants by surprise and that the move would “lead to a significant tightening of oil markets”.
The British bank added that Washington’s target to cut Iran oil exports to zero posed a “material upside risk to our current $70 per barrel average price forecast for Brent this year, compared with the year-to-date average of $65 per barrel”.
ANZ bank said in a note on Tuesday that “the decision is likely to worsen the ongoing supply woes being felt with Venezuelan sanctions, the OPEC supply cut, and intensifying conflict in Libya”.
The move to tighten Iran sanctions comes amid other sanctions Washington has placed on Venezuela’s oil exports and also as producer club OPEC has led supply cuts since the start of the year aimed at tightening global oil markets and propping up crude prices.
In November, the US imposed new sanctions on exports of Iranian oil after Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Washington, however, granted Iran’s eight main buyers of oil waivers to the sanctions that allowed them limited purchases for six months.