Oil pares gains as fears ease on Venezuelan exports

Iran will continue oil exports despite US pressure, president says

Rising output to record levels has made the US the top global oil producer, helping to boost domestic crude stocks to their highest since October 2017.

Oil prices were largely steady on Wednesday as an intensifying crisis in Venezuela along with tightened US sanctions on Iran partly offset the impact of an unexpected rise in USA crude inventories.

In comments on April 24, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said the US' attempts to block the export of Iranian oil will get nowhere as Tehran will be exporting any amount of crude it needs and wants.

Iran will continue to export oil despite U.S. pressure, Iran President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on Iranian state TV on Tuesday. In principle we believe sanctions do not work. "It was only imperative to look for other options", according to a senior executive of an oil marketing company, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Mumbai: With US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela coming into effect on 2 May and Saudi Arabia restraining crude oil output, Indian refiners have started looking for sources of new crude oil supply to feed their refineries with heavy sweet crude, in addition to importing from Iraq.

Tehran has warned that any direct U.S. efforts to stop its oil exports could lead to the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic waterway through which about 20 per cent of the world's total oil supplies pass.

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A larger than expected build should be bearish for prices.

Oil prices pared their gains on Tuesday, after global benchmark Brent crude rose above $73 a barrel, as the market grew less anxious that a rebellion against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro would hit the country's crude exports. Many observers feared the rallying cry could lead to escalating violence and further disruptions to crude supply, though the OPEC-member nation's oil-producing regions are far afield of the capital of Caracas.

Oil prices on Tuesday reversed earlier losses after Saudi Arabia said a deal between producers to withhold output that has been in place since January could be extended beyond June to cover all of 2019.

The Trump administration surprised Iran's oil customers, including India, China and Turkey, last week by saying no waivers on the sanctions would be granted after May 1, ending six months of exceptions to the sanctions for reductions in purchases. United States was ranked 18th in 2017-18.

As the endgame edges closer, let's look at the developments of the past 6 months and assess where would a U.S. "full-sanctions" course leave the relevant countries. Around 30-40% of the crude requirement is imported on a spot basis.

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