Oil Prices Steady Amid US Sanctions Against Iran

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Concerns over the impact of U.S. re-sanctioning on Iran apart from other factors like economic crisis in Venezuela are keeping the oil prices high.

Futures in NY gained 0.2%.

During the demonstrations against the U.S. action at the Gaza border yesterday, Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinians.

Saudi Arabia, Opec's de-facto leader, last month pumped the least crude since the output-cut deal began in early 2017.

Also supportive to prices was the possibility of hard USA sanctions against Iran's oil industry.

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OPEC on Monday reported it's cutting production by more than is required.

"While the economic environment will continue to support oil demand. support from harsh weather conditions will vanish and the recent jump in oil prices will take its toll", it said.

"It is too soon to say what will happen this time, but we should examine whether other producers could step in to ensure an orderly flow of oil to the market and offset a disruption to Iranian exports", the agency said.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih had signaled last month that the kingdom is prepared to keep supply restrained, even though inventories are back to normal.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading up 0.5% at $71.33 a barrel.

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Brent, the global benchmark, rose as much as 1% at $79.47 per barrel around 8:30 a.m. ET. The global benchmark crude traded at a $7.52 premium to July WTI, heading for the widest spread since 2015.

Futures for September delivery rose 1.6% to 472.8 yuan a barrel on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange. The contract fell 1.2% on Monday.

Commercial stockpiles in the OECD countries declined in March by 26.8 million barrels to stand at 2.82 billion, about a million barrels lower than the five-year average and 214 million below the March 2017 level.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), has not restricted the number of barrels available but has not made up for the loss of barrels from Iran.

The IEA estimates demand for OPEC's crude will average 32.25 million bpd for the rest of 2018, compared with output of 32.12 million bpd in April.

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Also, on Monday (yesterday), the United States officially moved its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel, which has sparked protests in Palestine. With more than 1,200 people wounded by live fire, it was the deadliest day in Gaza since Hamas's last war with Israel in 2014.

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