Oil prices ease as trade row clouds demand outlook

Iran OPEC chief: 'Saudi and Russia are taking oil market hostage'

In May, U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of an global nuclear deal with Iran and announced sanctions against OPEC member Iran.

Bloomberg's report explained that Iranian oil exports reached less than 2 million barrels per day in August, which could push prices to more than $ 80 per barrel.

“Investors are now assessing the Saudis' mixed message on oil prices versus its earlier pledge to increase output, ” said Hong Sungki, a commodities trader at NH Investment & Securities Co.in Seoul.

However, the market was tempered by an escalation in the China-US trade war that has clouded the outlook for crude demand from the world's top oil consumers.

Brent crude LCOc1 futures rose 98 cents, or 1.3 percent, to settle at $79.03 a barrel.

Saudi Arabia has mentioned several times recently that they have no desire to push oil prices over $80/barrel, a move higher may be unavoidable as U.S. sanctions on Iran are set to come into effect beginning November 4th.

Iran's oil exports are falling as more buyers, including its second-largest buyer India, cut imports ahead of USA sanctions that will be re-imposed in November.

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U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 gained 94 cents to settle at $69.85 a barrel, a 1.4 percent increase.

Iran remains "a very important exporter of oil", said the chief of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"Trade tensions might escalate and lead to slower economic growth, and in turn lower oil demand, " IEA added. Russia, the world's largest oil producer, and other producers in OPEC have kept in place a supply agreement to maintain prices while at the same time providing enough oil to the market.

Iranian crude oil exports continue to decline.

Saudi Arabia is now comfortable with Brent oil prices rising above $80 a barrel, at least in the short term, as the global market adjusts to the loss of Iranian supply from USA sanctions, according to people familiar with the kingdom's view.

This expected increase follows higher forecast annual crude oil prices in 2018 and more than offsets slightly lower crude oil production from OPEC members in 2018. Riyadh boosted production significantly in June, pumping 10.42 million barrels a day, up from 9.9 million barrels a day in April.

Elsewhere, Russia's energy minister, Alexander Novak, said on Monday that the country was ready to discuss cooperation with the United States to balance the oil market.

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