Oil rallies as Iran sanctions kick in

Saudi Arabia Crude Flows to U.S. Surge While Venezuela Output Declines

Oil price rose today amid reports that the US restored sanctions against Iran, the world's fifth-largest oil producer. Iran is the third-largest producer in oil cartel Opec.

Under the arrangement, Iran's oil payments were deposited into accounts in oil-importing countries and used by Tehran to buy goods.

The 6-million-barrel purchase was the first time that Indian Oil Corp (IOC)-which was the first Indian refiner to buy us oil last summer-has bought usa crude oil through a mini-term tender, the Indian company's Director of Finance A.K. Sharma told Reuters on Wednesday.

Prices drew some support from USA sanctions against Iran, introduced Tuesday in a range of sectors.

Beijing has put USA energy products, including crude oil and refined products, on lists of goods it will hit with a 25 per cent import tax in retaliation for similar moves by Washington. On the other hand, a reduction in supply as a result of US sanctions on Iran (which will reduce supply), is providing support on moves lower.

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Brent futures rose 90 cents, or more than 1 percent, to $74.65 a barrel by 1:38 p.m. EDT (1738 GMT), after hitting a session high of $74.90.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 19 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $68.68 barrel.

Oil prices rose as the United States reintroduced sanctions against major crude exporter Iran, tightening global markets.

An Iranian newspaper reported that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said a USA plan to reduce Iran's oil exports to zero will not succeed. A year ago at this time, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.351 on average in the United States.

Oil prices have for the most part already priced the Iranian sanctions in.

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said his country opposes sanctions on Iran, but will abide by them to protect its own interests.

"Oil has barely made its way above $69 and is struggling to gain further, trading in a tight range, as both the upward and downward elements co-exist, pulling prices from opposite directions", Kim Kwangrae, a commodities analyst at Samsung Futures Inc., said by phone from Seoul.

Observers have dismissed Trump's call for Saudi Arabia to abruptly increase oil production as political "noise".

But new data released on Monday showed Saudi Arabia's oil production fell in July by 200,000 bpd from the month earlier.

Output was expected to rise 1.31 million bpd to 10.68 million bpd in 2018, lower than last month's forecast of growth of 1.44 million bpd to 10.79 million, the EIA said.

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Traders were also scrutinizing weekly data on USA crude stockpiles, which showed inventories fell by 1.4 million barrels in the week through August 3. Following the announcement by EIA, the WTI lost 2.78 percent to 67.25 USA dollars, while Brent decreased 2.55 percent to 72.75 dollars. Nationwide inventories in the U.S. probably fell 3 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts before government data due on Wednesday.

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