Ahead of U.S. sanctions, India looks beyond Iran for oil imports

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On Tuesday, Brent rose as high as $82.55, the highest since November 2014.

Oil prices eased on Wednesday after US data showed a surprise build in domestic crude inventories, but an impending drop in Iranian exports kept Brent futures above $80 a barrel and on track for a fifth straight quarterly gain.

The price of Brent crude oil could continue its advance as traders ignore US President Donald Trump's persistent calls for producers to raise their output.

Oil prices jumped more than two per cent to a four-year high on Monday after Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation ruled out any immediate increase in production. "We are not going to put up with it - these terrible prices - much longer".

Then, yesterday he told the United Nations General Assembly that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is "ripping off the rest of the world" by pushing up prices.

We expect Indian refiners will either have to significantly reduce or completely stop importing crude oil from Iran over the next month or so.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry speaks during joint press conference on September 18 in Bucharest, Romania.

Less than two hours later, Bloomberg News reported that India isn't planning to buy any crude oil from Iran in November, costing Tehran a major customer as US sanctions take effect.

"A renewed rise in Cushing, Oklahoma, inventories and a rise in domestic crude oil production added to the bearish tone of the report", said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital in NY.

OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and its biggest oil-producer ally, Russia, on Sunday rebuffed a demand from Trump for moves to cool the market.

Iranian crude is usually sold at a discount of up to $2-4 per barrel to other Middle Eastern crude oil grades. "But the "unwillingness" of OPEC and its partners to declare their intention to ramp up production in their effort to replace Iranian barrels all of a sudden produced a very tight supply-demand balance for the fourth quarter of this year", said Tamas Varga, analyst at brokerage PVM Oil Associates.

The so-called "Opec+" group, which includes Russia, Oman and Kazakhstan, met over the weekend to discuss a possible increase in crude output, but the group was in no rush to do so. This puts pressure on other nations to lessen crude imports from Iran as well.

Richard Robinson, manager of the Ashburton Global Energy Fund, said higher prices are nearly certainly on the cards.

Another added: "There are more demand threats next year compared to supply threats".

Crude prices have also been affected by unexpected disruptions in several countries, including Libya, Nigeria and Venezuela.

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