Oil Slips as OPEC Seen Able to Offset Iran Losses From Sanctions

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"With prices moving close to $US80 a barrel and with a great opportunity presented to Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation to regain market share without crashing the oil price, we think there is a good chance the current OPEC+ deal will end by the end of 2018, if not before". "It's definitely not an environment to go home short over the weekend".

Brent crude futures rose 27 cents to $77.48 a barrel Thursday, having gained 3.5% so far this week, Reuters reported. On Thursday, the global benchmark hit $78, its highest since November 2014.

US crude's discount to Brent WTCLc1-LCOc1 was more than $7, the widest since mid-December.

"We expect that Iranian exports will fall well before the 180-day period until oil sanctions will be in effect, similar to the 2012 sanctions".

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Inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for US crude futures, fell about 410,000 barrels between May 8 and May 11, said traders, citing data from market intelligence firm Genscape.

Asked whether the United States might impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business with Iran, Bolton told CNN: "It's possible".

Michael Wittner, analyst at Societe Generale, forecasts US sanctions will remove 400,000 to 500,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude from the global market. The Brent variety declined by 0.22% to 77.30 United States dollars per barrel.

It was the busiest day in USA front-month contracts since August, and for Brent the busiest in nearly a month.

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Even though a bird's eye view of the geopolitics on display this week suggest that the reinstatement of sanctions against Iran will have much less impact than some dramatically-inclined analysts think and that export shortfalls will likely be compensated by the Saudis or other Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members relaxing their output restrictions, pundits were nonetheless concerned about a host of emerging dynamics. If OPEC and Russian Federation kept in place their existing oil production cuts for 2018 and beyond, the price could even rise to $US100 before the end of next year, they said.

Additionally, there are also some traders who believe soaring USA crude oil production may also help fill Iran's supply gap. "We expect that around October Iranian exports will be down by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) and eventually fall by 1 million bpd in 1H19", USA investment bank Jefferies said in a note on Friday.

We may see some weakness at the start of the week due to the jump in the rig count.

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