Huge Iranian oil armada heads to China before USA sanctions kick in

Crude Oil

Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil between April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of fiscal 2017-18).

“Satellite ship-tracking services indicate that Turkey is the only regular European buyer of Iranian crude left, implying that EU refiners have already successfully reshuffled some 500,000 [barrels a day] of crude imports away from Iranian crude, ” they wrote, adding that a deep discount for Urals NWE crude versus Brent indicates there is no particular shortage of medium-sour crude in Europe. "We have various ways of selling our oil and when the tankers reach Dalian, we will decide whether to sell it to other buyers or to China", the source said.

South Korean Ambassador to Tehran Ryu Jeong-hyun says companies in his country understand the significance of the Iranian market and will not leave it under the U.S. sanctions.

Rising crude stockpiles caused crude prices to once again drop considerably on Thursday, contributing to an 11 percent plunge over two weeks and effectively neutering the two biggest geopolitical issues that had preoccupied analysts of late: the Iran sanctions and U.S.

The Islamic Republic has previously stored oil at Dalian during the last round of sanctions in 2014. This means that the United States is also a major crude oil importer.

The furtive shipments from Iran to India demonstrate the limits of USA power.

More important was an observation made by analysts at JBC Energy in a report: "Assuming that Iranian crude exports will stabilize around 900,000 barrels per day (bpd), one can make a strong case that the peak bullish impact of Iran is in fact already behind us".

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Hyundai Motors has reportedly ended its cooperation with the Iranian company Kerman Khodro in the Special Economic Zone, Arg-e Jadid after the U.S. president announced it will re-impose sanctions on Iran. China's imports from Iran fell to 430,000 bpd in September, the lowest amount since 2016.

Investors worry Saudi Arabia could use oil supply to retaliate against critics. These volumes, in particular, are likely most at risk as European companies are much more intertwined with the United States, and as such, are vulnerable to American sanctions.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 26 cents, or 0.4 per cent, at $68.91 a barrel. CAATSA targets countries doing business with Russian, Iranian and North Korean defence companies.

While offering crude oil at IRENEX is to be a temporary measure, there are ideas supporting it while there are some against it. The loss of supply from Iran and the sudden tightness in the market would offer some justification for an SPR release, Jason Bordoff of Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy said in an interview with S&P Global Platts. Trump told reporters Thursday that his administration is waiting for the result of investigations as it decides how to respond amid reports that USA -based journalist Khashoggi was ambushed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago.

Refiners in Turkey, India and possibly China are reportedly negotiating with US officials over waivers to enable them to continue purchasing at least some Iranian oil after November 4.

Also denting confidence was evidence this week that USA oil inventories had risen sharply.

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