Japan Moves To Cease Oil Imports From Iran Amid US Warnings

Japan Moves To Cease Oil Imports From Iran Amid US Warnings

LONDON-Oil prices rose on Friday after top exporter Saudi Arabia said it wouldn't flood the market with crude in an effort to cap on prices.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude ended the session up 68 cents a barrel, or 1%, at $68.76/Bbl, after earlier falling towards Tuesday's one-month low of $67.03/Bbl, Kallanish Energy reports.

Global crude oil benchmark Brent was down 40c at $72.50 a barrel by 7.40am GMT.

Oil prices plunged after OPEC member Libya reopened its ports in the east and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would consider granting waivers to some of Iran's crude buyers.

"Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation talking about supplying the markets, that would certainly have the potential to weigh on market sentiments", Lipow said. “Slowing trade growth will weigh on physical demand for oil.”.

Even higher US production is likely, Rystad Energy said.

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Saudi crude exports fell by about 500,000 barrels a day to 6.7 million in the first half of July compared with the same period in June, tanker tracking by Bloomberg shows. It settled up 2 cents at $68.08 a barrel the session before, coming off a almost one-month low. Japanese oil companies are preparing for a complete cessation of oil imports from Iran, Japan's leading business newspaper Nikkei reported on Thursday. Most of the local oil refiners try to avoid importing crude oil from Mexico because it contains a relatively high level of foreign particles such as sulfur, making suitable for producing low-profit products such as bunker fuel only. The resumption of Libyan exports allows the return of as much as 850,000 bpd of crude into worldwide markets, which overshadowed the bullish news of declining oil supplies from Venezuela and labour issues in Norway and Iraq. Also, Saudi Arabia, which has ratcheted production up, is unlikely to want to see prices go so low that they begin to threaten its goal of balancing the national budget. For decades, the WTI contract based in Cushing, has been the benchmark for USA oil prices, but Houston has surpassed Cushing in terms of importance.

A Reuters survey of Opec production showed Saudi output at a near-record, up 700,000 barrels a day at 10.70-million barrels a day.

"We expect a fairly rapid lengthening in the (global oil supply) balance", Reid added.

Oil prices have been on a rollercoaster ride, with Brent going to $80 in May, only to drop $8-9 to around $71-$72 in July.

Oil prices dropped on Wednesday after an industry group reported that US crude inventories rose last week, defying analyst expectations for a significant reduction.

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