Today, oil prices dropped to $83 a barrel after the United States said it is actively considering waivers on the oil sanctions against Iran, potentially easing the current strain on supply and allowing Iranian oil exports to keep flowing.
Yesterday, oil prices rallied towards their highest levels this year after the Department of Energy (DOE) reported a weekly drop in US crude oil inventories. Also, the prospect of losing Iranian supply added to concerns over the delicate balance between consumption and production.
Earlier this week the EIA stated that oil terminals on the Texas Gulf Coast exported more crude oil than they imported in April of this year; surpassing imports by 15,000 bpd. A month later, the spread between imports and exports in Texas widened to 470,000 bpd which contributed to the U.S.’ record setting crude oil export total of 2 million bpd. The Texas gulf coast had previously been credited with approximately half of the United States’ crude oil exports until this upsurge, bringing the area’s contribution up to 70% in May of 2018.
News was released this week announcing that the U.S. would be reinstating sanctions against Iran, specifically the Iranian government’s purchase of United States Currency (Dollar), Tehran’s trade in gold, other precious metals, and its automotive industry. President Trump stated as well that if Iran didn’t comply with the reinstatement of the first wave of sanctions that his administration would look into targeting Iran’s port industry as well as its energy shipping and ship building industries. These second wave of sanctions could ultimately have an impact on global supply as well as the worlds spare capacity cushion of oil. Sanctions against Iranian Oil will impact another player in the trade war against the U.S., China. China is the biggest buyer of Iranian crude oil and with Trump and his administration exchanging tariff blows back and forth it will be a test of time to see how long China will resist communicating with President Trump and the United States.
There’s been a lot of talk about the U.S. increasing its domestic crude oil production for the sake of exportation, but where exactly is that crude oil being shipped to? A large portion of the exports will be going to the world’s fifth-largest oil importer, South Korea. South Korean imports of U.S. crude are expected to hit all-time highs in September and October, with 6 million barrels coming in each month.