Iranian oil revival will not add short-term bearishness
The possibility of a quick Iranian oil revival is not something any oil company or producer should worry about as the market has already factored this into the price.
According to S&P Global Platts, if the US removes sanctions on Iranian oil, there could be a possible return to pre-sanctions oil production of about 3.9 million barrels per day (bpd) next year. However, total Iranian crude production has been unchanged in the last three months at around 2.4 million bpd.
S&P Global Platts forecasts that the removal of sanctions on Iranian oil, petrochemical, shipping and other sectors could result in Iran being able to boost crude oil and condensate exports to 1.5 million bpd by the end of this year, from 600,000 bpd in May. Even with the sanctions, a big part was already exported to Asia. With signs the market will already be undersupplied in the second half of 2021, the addition of Iranian supplies will not rock the physical oil market and oil prices might continue the upward momentum.
The start of the sanctions on Iran by the previous US administration in June 2019 did not lead to surging oil prices.
Therefore, lifting the sanctions will not push down prices, since these barrels are already factored in the supply and demand balance and overwhelmed by demand outpacing supply. Hence, additional barrels will be absorbed by the market swiftly, and lifting the sanctions will not change the state of the global supply and demand balance.
With global oil demand growth projected to be healthy for the balance of this year and in 2022, OPEC+ is in a relatively comfortable position to deal with the possibility of increasing Iranian output without undermining the oil rebalancing.
OPEC+ is planning to return 2.1 million bpd to the market next month, and its output cuts are set to reach 5.8 million bpd from July to April 2022, which is already factored into oil prices.
OPEC+ producers have effectively managed the output cuts and that does not seem to change, but surprises are expected. The physical oil market for spot barrels is becoming more constrained with traders willing to pay premiums to secure prompt barrels.
OPEC+ output cuts do not seem to be influenced by the possible increase in Iranian supplies, still some market analysts seem so concerned that Iranian oil might flood the market. Iranian barrels are not at the magnitude to even add a short-term bearishness. It is small enough to be absorbed by the summer demand surge, where oil market spreads are suggesting a very tight supply outlook ahead as the global oil market tightens in the coming months, as a demand-driven rebound from the pandemic will offset any other bearish news or developments.
• Faisal Faeq is an energy adviser and columnist. He formerly worked with Saudi Aramco and OPEC Secretariat. Twitter: @FaisalFaeq.