'No longer sanctions waivers for importing Iranian oil': Mike Pompeo

Posted April 23, 2019

West Texas Intermediate for May delivery, which will expire Monday, advanced US$1.35 to US$65.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the more-active June contract rose US$1.38 to US$65.45.

The move spurred both Brent (^BZM) and US crude (^CLF) prices to their highest peaks since at least late October.

The Trump administration is poised to tell five nations, including allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, that they will no longer be exempt from USA sanctions if they continue to import oil from Iran, officials said Sunday. The Trump administration accused the group, formed by an order of Ayatollah Khomeini as a branch of Iran's Armed Forces founded after the 1979 Iranian revolution, of not only facilitating, but perpetrating, terrorism.

The Trump administration, which has engaged in maximum pressure campaign against Tehran, had been giving nations time to wean themselves off of Iranian oil, but has decided that waivers will no longer be issued.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: "Today I am announcing that we will no longer grant any exemptions".

As Washington has renewed its push to bring Iran's oil exports "to zero" the United States decision to lift special sanctions waivers for certain Iranian oil purchasers has drawn the ire of America's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally - Ankara. Iraq had obtained a three month waiver last March for gas and oil imports from Iran.

Over the past year, Iran has threatened several times to close the Strait of Hormuz for all tanker traffic if the USA drives Iranian oil exports to zero.

Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore, said the end to sanction waivers "could leave regional [Asian] heavyweights scrambling to find alternative supplies in the near term in what is already a very tight structural supply situation globally".

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About one year after the United States chose to leave the Iran nuclear deal, the State Department is set to announce that all countries will have to completely end their imports of Iranian oil or be subject to USA sanctions.

Backing Trump's comments, Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said that the kingdom would work to "stabilize" the oil market.

China, India, Turkey, Japan and South Korea will be affected by the measure beginning May 2. "How long we remain there, at zero, depends exclusively on the Islamic Republic of Iran's senior leaders", he said.

Brent markets rallied rather stringently as well, which makes sense considering that Brent is more of a global benchmark and therefore it's going to be more sensitive to the Iranian situation. "And what is the Trump Administration strategy toward Iran?" Oil markets are better supplied this year than last, and that "puts us in a better position to accelerate the path to zero", he said.

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Oil prices jumped overnight on reports of the action by the United States.