Oil slips but holds near multi-year highs on Iran supply concerns


While every possible effect of Trump scrapping the Iran deal is being discussed, with the overall sentiment that it will cause a tightening of the crude market, one organization that appears unfazed by the turn of events is OPEC itself: three sources familiar with the issue told Reuters that the cartel will take its time to decide whether to pump more oil to make up for Iran's upcoming shortfall.

Bank of America Merril Lynch analysts said the Brent crude price was likely to reach $US90 by mid-2019.

But Trump, a severe critic of the deal dating back to his presidential campaign, said Tuesday in a televised address from the White House that it was "defective at its core".

"We must be able to go to a site and check that site". This provides Iran an incentive to approach the People's Bank of China to discuss a yuan-denominated deal.

The White House is demanding the existing inspection regime, however imperfect, continue under the aegis of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog.

Analysts at Commerzbank said Friday current price levels indicated the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries was now "regaining the price power it had lost" in the wake of the first USA shale boom that led to the price drop over three years ago.

A second official confirmed to AFP on Thursday that Washington still wanted the inspections.

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Yet today, the Europeans face an uncomfortable truth as they try to salvage the nuclear deal and also protect their businesses; Iran is the EU's 33rd biggest trading power, while the United States ranks number one.

Pulling out of the deal returns the parties to zero and may facilitate getting the sunset clauses removed, Goldberg said, noting that businesses in the three European countries in the deal - Germany, France and Britain - want their government's help in doing business in Iran.

And non-proliferation experts have warned that a vital window into Iran's nuclear activities could be lost.

It is yet to be clear what Iran is thinking right now.

In a lengthy government statement on Friday, the Iranian government warned that it would take "whatever reciprocal measures it deems expedient" if it is not fully compensated for the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement as provided for in the accord.

That includes monitoring at Fordo, an underground fuel enrichment plant inside a base used by Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

"Those were my opinions then", he added.

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The IAEA has so far confirmed that Iran is adhering to its "nuclear-related commitments", although the USA administration questions that conclusion.

Iran re-emerged as a major oil exporter in 2016 after worldwide sanctions against it were lifted in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

One source said, "I think we have 180 days before any supply impact", and another remarked that the safest thing for the group to do was to merely monitor the situation.

"The fact is the inspections are and have been effective", she said.

"In the end, the size of the US market dwarfs any prospect of any benefit they can get from Iran", Maloney said. "We expect that around October Iranian exports will be down by 500,000 barrels per day and eventually fall by 1 million bpd in 1H19", said United States investment bank Jefferies in a note on Friday.

But it is hard to square Trump's professed quest for a "new and lasting deal" with his scornful dismissal of the "decaying and rotten" original agreement.

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