Oil Stocks: Iran Sanctions Could Add to Global Supply Shortage

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Brent crude oil futures rose as high as $75.67 per barrel, reaching a three-year high, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures reached the level of $70.56 per barrel, according to media reports.

Oil prices rose to their highest levels since late 2014 on Monday, boosted by the latest troubles for Venezuelan oil company PDVSA and a looming decision on whether the USA will re-impose sanctions on Iran.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday Iran had plans to respond to any move by Trump and the us would regret a decision to exit the accord.

Saudi Arabia is the OPEC member that wants higher prices as it prepares for the listing of state oil giant Aramco.

Speculation that the USA will renew the sanctions on Iran isn't the only factor underpinning prices.

President Trump has to decide by Saturday whether or not to continue waiving sanctions against Iran. Traders are also watching and reacting to the events in Venezuela that point toward a deepening economic crisis threatening the country's production and exports.

Saudi Arabian energy minister Khalid al-Falih said he was concerned about possible shortages of spare crude production capacity.

Iran, which is a major Middle East oil producer and member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), resumed its role as a major oil exporter in January 2016 when worldwide sanctions against Tehran were lifted in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear program.

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"If ConocoPhillips is successful, then it will limit the revenues PDVSA will have and give them even more problems paying their bills and producing their oil", said Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition in Stamford.

As the South American country has failed to invest enough in its oil industry, the output of Venezuela has halved since the early 2000s to 1.5 million barrels per day.

If sanctions are reinstated, that could contribute to tighter global oil inventories, as it would likely result in a reduction of Tehran's oil exports. This is contrary to the global reflation trade that so many have been betting on over the past year and perhaps a warning sign on the sustainability of higher oil prices.

Hedge funds cut their net long US crude futures and options positions in the week to May 1 by 11,825 contracts to 444,060, according to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Iran has come out against higher prices, after a rally of more than 12 percent this year on output cuts by OPEC and its allies, as well as rising geopolitical risks in the Middle East.

USA drillers added nine oil rigs in the week to May 4, bringing the total count to 834, the highest number since March 2015, General Electric (NYSE:GE)'s Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday.

USA output will likely rise further this year, towards or past Russia's 11 million bpd, as its energy firms keep drilling for more.

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