Oil prices shoot to 2019 highs as US tightens sanctions on Iran

A general view of Iran's oil refinery quay in Lavan island. (AFP / Behrouz Mehri/File photo)
Updated 23 April 2019
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Oil prices shoot to 2019 highs as US tightens sanctions on Iran

  • Iran’s main oil buyers initially received sanction exemptions
  • US reiterates its goal to cut Iran oil exports to zero

LONDON: World oil prices struck fresh 2019 peaks on Tuesday, boosting energy shares prices.

Crude futures extended Monday’s sharp rally, which was triggered by a US crackdown on Iranian oil exports.

Brent North Sea crude reached $74.70 per barrel Tuesday, the highest point since early November.

WTI hit a similar near six-month high at $66.19 per barrel.

“UK markets have returned from their long break with solid gains for the FTSE 100, led by strength in oil stocks thanks to the surge in crude prices over the past 24 hours,” noted Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG trading group.

Brent had rallied more than two dollars per barrel on Monday and WTI jumped $1.70.

The White House on Monday announced it was calling an end to six-month waivers that had exempted countries from unilateral US sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

Starting in May, these countries — China, India, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy and Greece — would face sanctions if they continue to buy oil from Iran.

“This points to a big drop in the supply side, which boosts the commodity’s price,” said Margaret Yang Yan, market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore.

“Iran’s daily oil output amounts to 1.3 million barrels, according to latest figures in end March.”

But she added that “the sustainability of oil’s rally depends on Saudi and other OPEC members’ actions to increase oil supply in the month to come.”

Stephen Innes, head of trading and market strategy at SPI Asset Management, said rising crude prices meant $80 per barrel was now a “possibility.”

“Oil quickly repriced higher on fears that markets could face an immediate supply crunch, adding more pressure to the already tenuous global supply squeeze,” he added.

Energy and oil-linked shares jumped on Tuesday, with Tokyo-listed crude developer Inpex rallying 2.8 percent and oil refiner JXTG up 1.1 percent.

In London, BP shot up 2.4 percent and Shell jumped 2.3 percent — also as European stock markets reopened following the long Easter holiday weekend and before a deluge of corporate results this week.

“Some of the world’s biggest technology companies are reporting earnings this week as well as a raft of the big European banks,” Nick Twidale, chief operating officer at Rakuten Securities Australia, said in a note to clients.

“Investors will be hoping for some better-than-expected results from both groups to keep the topside momentum in global equities.”


Saudi Aramco signs US LNG deal with Sempra

Aramco, the Saudi state oil giant plans to become a major global gas player while the US market is undergoing a shale boom. (File/AP)
Updated 34 min 11 sec ago
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Saudi Aramco signs US LNG deal with Sempra

  • Aramco has been developing its own gas resources
  • The proposed Port Arthur LNG Phase 1 project is expected to include two liquefaction trains

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco has entered into a 20-year agreement with US-based Sempra Energy to purchase liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its subsidiary Sempra LNG, the two companies said on Wednesday.
The Saudi state oil giant plans to become a major global gas player while the US market is undergoing a shale boom.
Aramco has been developing its own gas resources and eyeing gas assets in the United States, Russia, Australia and Africa.
The two companies are also finalizing a 25 percent equity investment in the phase 1 of Port Arthur LNG, they said in a joint statement.
The sale-and-purchase agreement is for 5 million tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG from phase 1 of the Port Arthur LNG export project under development, the firms said.
The proposed Port Arthur LNG Phase 1 project is expected to include two liquefaction trains, up to three LNG storage tanks and associated facilities which should enable the export of about 11 mtpa on a long-term basis.
“Port Arthur LNG could be one of the largest LNG export projects in North America, with potential expansion capabilities of up to eight liquefaction trains or approximately 45 mtpa of capacity,” the statement said.
Aramco’s trading arm sold its first LNG cargo on the spot market in late March to an Indian buyer, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Aramco plans to boost its gas production to 23 billion standard cubic feet (scf) a day from about 14 billion scf now.