Geopolitics Trumps Oil Market Fundamentals: IEA

Oil hits highest since Nov 2014 as Brent edges closer to $80

Speculators could liquidate en masse and demand growth may underperform, while the amount of Iranian oil taken offline could end up at the lower end of expectations. The inventory surplus has vanished, and more outages could push oil prices up even higher.

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Potential oil supply disruptions in Iran and Venezuela have prompted oil traders to focus on geopolitics rather than fundamentals, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its latest monthly report Wednesday, warning that any supply cuts could prompt prices to rocket.

This has also unleashed a divisive debate on the effect of unbridled fossil fuel production on a fragile world environment. Saudi Arabia suggested shortly after the USA announced its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal that OPEC would act to mitigate any supply shortfall should it occur.

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Twenty-four OPEC and non-OPEC producers, most notably Russian Federation, are expected to continue a deal (called the "Vienna Agreement") to cut production by 1.2 mb/d until at least the end of 2018 and the strategy has been working with benchmark Brent crude now trading around $78 a barrel and WTI nearly touching $71.

It's interesting that, despite all the noise, Iranian oil is still selling at a premium. President Trump was required by law to certify every 90 days whether Iran is complying with the 2015 agreement, which eased U.S. and worldwide restrictions on the Islamic Republic provided it curbs nuclear research. While this has largely been achieved, ministers have said other metrics should be considered such as oil industry investment, suggesting they are in no hurry yet to wind down supply cuts.

Flawless timing for #ThrowbackThursday because we're headed back to the 80s.

Before the latest May 12 deadline, Trump decided not to renew the United States to the deal unleashing a Pandora's Box of uncertainties. Non-OPEC output will grow by 1.87 mb/d in 2018, a slightly higher rate than seen in last month's Report.

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That has cast uncertainty over global oil supplies, and investors lately have been betting on prices exceeding $80 or $90 a barrel, though European nations are not likely to follow suit as they did during the Obama administration. One of the companies that now has a major deal in the works with Iran is the French energy giant Total.

OPEC is forecasting USA liquids production this year to increase by 1.5 million b/d, with 94% from tight crude and unconventional natural gas liquids, on increased investments and upgraded completion metrics, versus 90% in 2017.

New US sanctions on Iran could also threaten the already volatile commodities market.

Going forward, however, Iran's oil exports are expected to fall.NEW DELHI: India's oil imports from Iran surged to 640,000 barrels per day (bpd) in April, its highest level since October 2016, according to data from shipping and industry sources, as refiners raised purchases ahead of looming United States sanctions against Tehran.

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