USA exit from Iran deal could affect S. Korea's oil imports

USA exit from Iran deal could affect S. Korea's oil imports

USA exit from Iran deal could affect S. Korea's oil imports

Trump said on Tuesday that the 2015 nuclear deal, which lifted sanctions on Iran in return for measures restricting its nuclear programme, did not go far enough in removing the threat posed by Tehran to the US and its allies in the Middle East.

After Trump's decision to walk away from the Iran deal, Brent crude futures, the global benchmark for oil prices, rose to their highest level since November 2014 on Wednesday, at $76.75 per barrel.

The United States plans to impose new unilateral sanctions after abandoning the agreement, which limited Iran's nuclear ambitions in exchange for removing joint US-Europe sanctions. The benchmark contract was up $1.80 a barrel, or 2.4%, at $76.65 by 1240 GMT.

USA light crude was up $1.70 a barrel, or nearly 2.5%, at $70.76, near highs also last seen in late 2014. It produced 3.81 million bpd in March 2018, nearly 4 percent of global output, and its crude oil exports averaged over 2 million bpd in January-March quarter this year.

The EIA report helped lift USA gasoline futures to $2.1674 a gallon, the highest since Hurricane Harvey sent prices surging in August.

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New U.S. sanctions will include measures aimed at its oil and shipping sectors, with a six-month "wind down" period "to allow companies to end contracts, terminate business, (and) get their money out", according to the U.S. State Department.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose 1.4 million barrels, EIA said.

Iranian oil accounted for 13 percent of the country's total crude imports past year, coming in third place after Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Analysts' estimates of the possible reduction in Iranian crude supplies as a result of any new US sanctions range from as little as 200,000 bpd to as much as 1 million bpd, with most impact from 2019 as sanctions take time to be imposed.

Several refiners in Asia said on Wednesday they were seeking alternatives to Iranian supplies.

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A number of countries have already cut reliance on Iranian oil, as well as other "traditional" sources of supply, due to a surge in cheaper US crude exports.

A senior official with a Chinese oil major, who declined to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said new sanctions would hurt Chinese refiners by pushing up the price of crude oil, the most important feedstock for the petroleum industry.

"The kingdom will work with major oil producers within and outside OPEC, and with major consumers as well to limit the impact of any shortages in supplies", the Saudi energy ministry said in a statement late Tuesday.

The recent upswing in prices - which has almost tripled crude values from lows hit in early 2016 - has led to speculation that the output curbs will soon be lifted as countries reliant on oil revenue seek to boost their coffers by raising their exports.

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