Oil hits four-year peak ahead of sanctions on Iran

The potential supply shortage is a a reversal of the glut seen in the oil market between 2015 to 2017

The potential supply shortage is a a reversal of the glut seen in the oil market between 2015 to 2017

Oil markets were firm on Tuesday, with Brent crude holding near four-year highs reached the previous day as markets adjust to the prospect of tighter supply once the USA sanctions against Iran kick in next month.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 marked $75.90 a barrel around 0630 GMT on Tuesday, their strongest since November 2014.

In October, on average since 1990, Brent crude and WTI prices have declined by roughly 2.8%.

The recent increase in oil prices has prompted talk that crude could reach $100 per barrel for the first time since prices slumped in mid-2014, when Brent peaked at $115 per barrel. That's the highest level since November 2014.

More fundamentally, oil markets have been pushed up by looming United States sanctions against Iran's oil industry, which, at its most recent peak this year, supplied nearly 3% of the world's almost 100-million barrels of daily consumption.

U.S. sanctions on Iran's energy industry, which come into force on November 4, are created to cut crude exports from the third-biggest producer in OPEC.

"There is concern in the market that the loss of barrels from Iran and Venezuela is not going to be made up for through extra supplies from particularly Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation", said Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition Energy.

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Meanwhile, the United States and Canada forged an economic alliance on Sunday with the goal to save the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as a trilateral deal with Mexico, CNBC said.

Estimates vary widely on how much Iranian crude US sanctions could remove from the market, from 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 2 million bpd.

Where OPEC is anxious about the potential for a slowdown in oil consumption growth as a result of rising prices and a possible downturn in the global economy, traders are more anxious about the impact of sanctions on Iran.

The next three months are a "special situation", given the sanctions on Iranian oil set to begin in early November, which is "already reducing their exports", said Williams. "However, such optimistic claims are falling on deaf ears", PVM Oil Associates strategist Stephen Brennock said.

Several major buyers in India and China have signalled that they would cut purchases of Iranian oil.

The pair discussed the stability of the oil market and the strategic partnership between the two countries, Al Arabiya TV reported, without providing more details.

Trade data in Refinitiv Eikon showed Iran's seaborne exports in September were just 1.9 million barrels per day, the lowest level since mid-2016.

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