Crude Oil Price Surges on Iran Sanctions, Gulf of Mexico Fears

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U.S. West Texas Intermediate and global benchmark Brent crude oil futures are trading higher early Tuesday, continuing to recover from Monday's early session setback.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were down 54 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $73.80 a barrel.

Oil also dropped as investors focused on rising output from other producers, such as top exporter Saudi Arabia, to compensate for lower Iranian supplies.

Oil prices held little changed on Tuesday, as more evidence emerged that crude exports from Iran are declining in the run-up to the reimposition of US sanctions, while a hurricane moved across the Gulf of Mexico.

Iran's economy is expected to shrink by 1.5 percent in 2018 and by another 3.6 percent in 2019, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in the October update of its World Economic Outlook, heavily downgrading the Islamic Republic's growth prospects with the return of the USA sanctions.

The decrease apparently was fueled by buyers seeking alternatives ahead of the start of USA sanctions on November 4. Global crude oil prices had reached a record high of $147 per barrel in July 2009.

Some veteran Iran watchers cautioned against criticizing the administration for its decision to consider oil waivers, telling the Free Beacon it is very hard for nations to cut their imports to zero in the matter of months. This report renewed concerns over OPEC's ability to cover a widely expected shortfall in supply.

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"Refiners have placed November nominations to lift 1.25 million tonnes (about 9 million barrels) of oil from Iran", one of the sources said.

The administration is still committed to pressuring the globe to cease Iranian oil imports, the official said.

Oil prices edged lower on Wednesday after the International Monetary Fund lowered its global growth forecasts but prices were supported as Hurricane Michael churned toward Florida, causing the shutdown of almost 40 percent of U.S. Gulf of Mexico crude output.

Iran has warned that if it can not sell its oil due to United States pressure, then no other regional country will be allowed to do so either, threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian oil exports are declining fast, and the Saudi's have to find a way to increase production quickly.

Meanwhile, oil companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico shut down almost 20 per cent of oil production as Hurricane Michael moved towards eastern Gulf states including Florida.

If forecasts prove accurate, the hurricane would largely miss major oil-producing assets, analysts said, but a change of track could widen the impact. The American Petroleum Institute is due to release data on Wednesday, while the U.S. Energy Information Administration is due to publish on Thursday.

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