OPEC chief says Iran still ‘very important as USA sanctions loom

Iran OPEC chief: 'Saudi and Russia are taking oil market hostage'

"It casts doubts on whether Saudi Arabia will increase output to compensate for the loss of Iranian crude once sanctions come into effect", said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

"Iranian crude oil export loadings have declined by 580,000 barrels per day in the past three months", Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said in a note to clients on Monday. -China trade tensions even as U.S. President Donald Trump is said to want $200 billion in China tariffs despite talks with Beijing.

The OPEC Chief did not specify how crude producers would compensate for declining exports from Iran, with new U.S. sanctions due to hit the Islamic republic's oil industry on November the 4th.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 gained 94 cents to settle at $69.85 a barrel, a 1.4 percent increase.

Since spring when the Trump administration said it would impose the sanctions, crude traders have priced in a risk premium reflecting the supply shortages that may occur when exports from Iran, the third-largest OPEC producer, are cut.

"The brinkmanship between Beijing and Washington has the potential to severely impact the competitiveness of US crude oil and petroleum products in the Chinese market, and it will also deter Chinese investment in the USA energy sector", said Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy in London.

"There is a lot of concern about what winter is going to bring in terms of tight supplies when the Iran sanctions really kick in full blast", said John Kilduff, a partner at New York-based hedge fund Again Capital LLC. Washington aims to cut Iran's oil exports down to zero to force Tehran to re-negotiate a nuclear deal.

Oil prices inched up on Wednesday as concerns that producers may not be able to cover a shortfall in supply once US sanctions on Iran kick in outweighed a gain in USA stockpiles.

Iran´s OPEC governor Hossein Kazempour Ardebili said Saturday that OPEC had "not much credit left" and slammed Gulf powerhouses Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for turning it into a "tool for the US".

Oil prices rose on Monday as investors focused on the impact of US sanctions on Iran despite assurances by Washington that Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States could together raise output fast enough to offset falling supplies.

"Trump's efforts to cut Iran's access to the global crude market has prompted Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia to take hostage the oil market", Kazempour Ardebili said.

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