Oil firm as Saudi output dips, Iran sanctions loom

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According to Reuters, oil prices rose on Monday after Saudi crude production registered a surprising dip in July and as American shale drilling appeared to plateau.

While the USA failed to persuade Beijing to stop importing Iranian oil, the Chinese government did say it would not increase the imports, according to Bloomberg, which cited two anonymous officials "familiar with the negotiations".

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $68.87 per barrel at 0647 GMT, down 9 cents from their last settlement.

"Indeed, China could be motivated to import even more oil from Iran, as Iranian oil is displaced from European markets due to United States sanctions and will be marketed at a discount".

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Authorities reported the first fatality among protesters, with the shooting of a man in Karaj, west of Tehran. The sanctions targeting Iran's oil industry could cut off a crucial source of hard currency.

Fear over decreasing demand from China triggered a slow down on Friday, after the country's main oil producer Sinopec, trim down its purchase of United States crude.

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In Saudi Arabia, 10.29 million barrels per day were produced by the Middle East's largest power, a surprising decline of nearly 200,000 bpd, and the decline is hitting oil markets twice as hard as the decline in production amounts is announced amidst a supposed period of production increases by OPEC.

Other oil producing countries, led by Saudi Arabia, have vowed to increase production to cover the loss of Iranian oil. Inventories rose for the first time in seven months in May. The U.S. has told all countries, including India to stop their oil imports from Iran by November 4 or face sanctions for carrying out any transaction with Tehran as there would be "zero" waivers to any country. "Bloomberg tanker tracking in July shows the country's crude and condensate exports have already fallen by about 430,000 barrels a day, or 15%, from their April peak".

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The inquiry found that Chinese theft of USA intellectual property was costing the US economy billions of dollars. China's biggest United States imports by value in 2017 were aircraft and related equipment, soybeans and autos.

The cutback comes despite promises from Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih that key OPEC members and their allies would add about 1 million barrels of supply, doing "whatever is necessary to keep the market in balance".

Fears that Chinese demand could taper fuelled the pullback on Friday after state oil major Sinopec cut its purchases of USA crude.

Meanwhile, the tensions between Washington and Beijing is scaring hedge funds away from an increasingly volatile oil market, according to Bloomberg, with money managers' total positions in the US benchmark and Brent having slid to the lowest since 2016. U.S. crude ended the week down 0.4 per cent, while Brent has fallen 1.5 per cent in the week so far.

China's stand of rejecting U.S.' demand is a blow to President Donald Trump's efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic after his withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord.

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Yet, only three supertankers are now sailing to China, carrying a total of just 197,515 bpd of USA oil to arrive in September, the trade flow data showed.

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