US sanctions on Iranian oil risk stoking OPEC tensions

India's oil imports from Iran down 57% in April

Iran, which has said it would continue oil exports despite sanctions, announced it would scale back curbs on its nuclear programme under a 2015 deal with world powers.

Earlier at the Asia-Pacific trading hours, crude oil future prices had curbed to a one-month low over renewed concerns of USA sanction on Iranian crude, while Iran's attempt to bypass United States sanction and sell its oil in "gray market" had largely contributed to the early nose-dive of crude oil prices.

USA crude stocks have climbed to their highest since September 2017 and were forecast to have added another 1.2 million barrels last week, according to analysts in a Reuters poll.

Trump tweeted on Sunday that the United States would raise tariffs on US$200 billion (RM829 billion) worth of Chinese goods this week, causing investors to seek safety and flee from risky assets.

But as Monday's session wore on, the initial shock from the threats appeared to wear off. U.S. Treasury yields pared some of their declines.

South Korea imported 202.12 million barrels of crude from the Middle East in Q1, which accounted for 72.5% of its total imports of 278.69 million barrels, according to the latest data from the state-run Korea National Oil Corp. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said last month that he sees no need to take immediate action in the oil market, signaling a cautious response to the USA decision to tighten sanctions on Iran.

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Due to the sanctions, Iran's oil production is estimated to drop to 2.65 mbpd in 2019, from 3.85 mbpd in 2018, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its Oil 2019 Report released on March 11.

So far this year, prices have gained more than 30% as the global supply outlook has tightened due to USA sanctions on crude exporters Iran and Venezuela, as well as supply cuts by OPEC, Russia and their allies.

The surge in Iranian imports resulted in China setting a new monthly oil import record, despite the fact that there was refinery maintenance and fuel demand was lukewarm, analysts tell Reuters.

Saudi Arabia is expected to keep its crude exports below 7 million barrels per day in June, while output would stay under its production quota under a global deal to cut supply, a Gulf source familiar with Saudi oil plans said.

Exports of Iranian crude oil have been put in jeopardy since the White House re-imposed sanctions on Iran in November a year ago, demanding all countries stop importing oil from the country.

India is scheduled to receive two crude carriers carrying 4 million barrels of Iranian oil this month.

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