Iran oil minister: No change in production, export

An aerial view of an Iranian floating oil export terminal in the Persian Gulf

Iran has threatened to block oil exports through a key Gulf waterway in retaliation for United States efforts to reduce Iranian oil sales to zero.

"Putting an actual nominal level of geopolitical risk, supply crunch concerns as well as Opec plus compliance shirking into the current level of oil prices is challenging, but we view that at least an upside risk of Brent and WTI exceeding north of $85 and $80, respectively, in Q3 2018, depending on the magnitude of these disruptions and how they impact the overall supply-demand balance", Ehsan Khomas, head of Research and Strategist for Mena at MUFG, said.

Iran's Petroleum Minister Bijan Zanganeh says there has been no major change in the country's production and export of crude oil despite recent threats by US President Donald Trump to halt the oil trade activities of the Islamic Republic.

Zanganeh said Iranian oil production and exports had not changed as a result of USA pressures.

Last Saturday, Trump said Saudi Arabia had pledged to increase its oil output by 2 million barrels per day "to compensate for falling output in Venezuela and Iran".

Oil prices could jump steeply to cross $120 per barrel in a not-to-be ruled out scenario of zero Iranian exports combined with Opec's lack of preparedness to offset the huge supply deficit, market analysts said.

However, it warned that this would leave the global market with less than 1 million bpd of capacity left to meet all other contingencies.

In practice, some analysts think the market could be much tighter, with sanctions essentially using up all the spare capacity worldwide.

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Experts are also doubtful if Saudi Arabia can mobilize its forces rapid enough to boost its oil production and specifically maintain the rise over a long period of time.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event in Beijing, al-Adsani confirmed KPC has increased output by 85,000 barrels per day (bpd) as part of last month's agreement by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to raise output.

Blanch is skeptical that the kingdom could pump 12 million or more barrels a day.

In the report, BMI said Saudi Arabia has sufficient capacity to keep the market "comfortably supplied", but said the benefits of this are outweighed by the costs.

"Maximum production would require opening the chokes on existing wells and bringing previously shut-in wells back into service", Reuters added. But now there is growing worry that even a one-million-bpd increase will not be enough.

Domestic crude stocks have already fallen by 95 million barrels since their peak in October 2015, according to government data submitted to the JODI.

Stringent sanctions on Iran will take both Saudi Arabia and the oil market into the unknown.

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