Update 4: Oil prices were already heading lower but after Brent touched a YTD high earlier in the session, why leave anything up to chance? President Trump piled on to the oil bearishness triggered by the State Department’s revelation that the removal of the waivers will happen over the course of a year, tweeting that Saudi Arabia and “others in OPEC” will “more than make up the oil flow difference in our now Full Sanctions on Iranian oil.”
He then lashed out at John Kerry, whom he accused of giving Iran “VERY BAD” advice during the Iran nuclear deal negotiations, then suggested that Kerry might have violated the Logan Act, which criminalizes unauthorized negotiations with a foreign power.
Saudi Arabia and others in OPEC will more than make up the Oil Flow difference in our now Full Sanctions on Iranian Oil. Iran is being given VERY BAD advice by @JohnKerry and people who helped him lead the U.S. into the very bad Iran Nuclear Deal. Big violation of Logan Act?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2019
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Update 3: Oil prices have erased their earlier gains and fallen below a key technical level after a State Department official revealed that the wind-down period for removing the waivers on Iranian crude exports would be a year.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the kingdom will in the coming weeks consult with other producers to ensure a well-balanced oil market.
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Update 2: Pompeo started by addressing Sunday’s attacks in Sri Lanka, confirming that Americans were among the victims and affirming that the US stands with the Sri Lankan people in confronting terrorism and respecting religious freedom.
Pompeo credited Trump with implementing the sanctions and denying the Iranian regime some $10 billion in revenue. He affirmed this on Twitter.
Maximum pressure on the Iranian regime means maximum pressure. That’s why the U.S. will not issue any exceptions to Iranian oil importers. The global oil market remains well-supplied. We’re confident it will remain stable as jurisdictions transition away from Iranian crude.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) April 22, 2019
He added that the US won’t be granting any more waivers, and that Iranian oil exports would be going to zero. “We have emphasized the highest possible care to ensure market stability.”
Both the KSA and UAE have assured us they will maintain appropriate supply for the markets, and Pompeo added that the US is now a “significant producer” as well, touting the 1.6 million b/d increase in crude production last year.
During a Q&A after his statement, Pompeo said the US will pursue its goals pertaining to Iran however it can achieve them. He concluded the press conference by responding to a question about the threats posed by ISIS and other radical terror groups by affirming that “radical Islamic terror” remains a threat.
Here’s the full written statement from Pompeo:
Watch his press conference below:
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Update: In a statement effectively confirming the Washington Post’s report from last night, the White House said that President Trump has decided not to extend the 180-day waivers on Iranian oil exports when they expire early next month.
- TRUMP WON’T RE-ISSUE IRAN OIL WAIVERS SET TO EXPIRE IN MAY
Meanwhile, the US, UAE and Saudi Arabia have promised to ramp up production to make up for any shortfall, as the White House reaffirms that its goal is to bring Iranian oil exports to zero.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to offer more information when he speaks later this morning.
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Expectations that the Trump administration would extend export waivers on Iranian oil have been dashed after the Washington Post reported late Sunday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was preparing to announce on Monday that the US would move to end the exemptions early next month, when the initial 180-day waivers offered to eight countries are set to expire. The news sent oil prices surging in early Easter Monday trade.
Unsurprisingly, crude futures for May delivery climbed as much as 74 cents to $64.74/bbl in New York on the news the US would end the practice of allowing certain countries to import Iranian oil without facing sanctions. Meanwhile, front-month Brent futures topped $74 a barrel, their highest level since Nov. 1.
On Monday morning, Pompeo plans to announce that as of May 2, the State Department will no longer grant sanctions waivers to any country importing Iranian crude or condensate, WaPo said. WSJ, Reuters and others later confirmed the WaPo report.
The decision to end the waivers will impact recipients in different ways: Three of the eight countries that were granted the 180-day waivers back in November – Greece, Italy and Taiwan – have already reduced their Iranian oil imports to zero.
The other countries that will need to cut off imports or face serious repercussions include China, India, Turkey, Japan and South Korea. As of now, China and India are the largest importers of Iranian oil, and if they don’t swiftly act to cut down on their imports, bilateral relations with the US could suffer.
“China has consistently opposed the US implementation of unilateral sanctions and reaching beyond its jurisdiction,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday at his regular briefing in Beijing.
South Korea and Japan aren’t as dependent on Iranian oil and have already been working to pare back their imports. Meanwhile, a Turkish official has said Ankara expects another waiver. But it’s looking like it won’t get one.
America’s decision to reimpose sanctions have had the desired effect: Iranian oil exports were measured at about 1 million barrels a day in March, down from 2.5 million barrels per day in April of last year, the month before Trump revealed that the US would withdraw from the nuclear deal. The sanctions have cut the supply of oil to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and also contributed to Hezbollah’s recent funding shortages, experts said
However, threats against adversaries and allies are not without risk: European allies have been working with Tehran to circumvent sanctions as part of their efforts to save the deal, something that has led to an alternative payments network to US-dominated SWIFT that some fear could accelerate de-dollarization in the oil trade.
At least for now, the US still has enough clout in international energy markets to force compliance. In response to the reports, Saudi Arabia said they would be ‘open’ to ramping up production to compensate for the shortfall – in accordance with President Trump’s demands that OPEC do more to curb rising oil prices.
And although US crude is too light to serve as a suitable substitute for Iranian oil, the fact that the US has now established itself as the world’s largest crude oil producer is something to keep in mind.