Crude oil futures were higher during mid-morning trade in Asia Friday amid ongoing supply-side uncertainties and geopolitical tensions, with market participants also looking out for headlines emerging from the OPEC/non-OPEC meeting scheduled over the weekend. At 11 am Singapore time (0300 GMT), July ICE Brent crude futures were up 35 cents/b (0.48%) from Thursday’s settle to $72.97/b, while the NYMEX June light sweet crude contract gained 41 cents/b (0.65%) at $63.28/b.
“Growing tensions between the US and Iran now appear to be boosting oil prices after all,” Commerzbank analysts said in a note. US President Donald Trump’s administration has increased pressure on Iran this month by ending sanctions waivers to its oil buyers. Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne Thursday, however, downplayed the risks of rising tension between the US and Iran as well as this week’s apparent attacks on Middle East oil infrastructure, weighing the boost in crude prices against added operational risks.
“It could add some risks on some of our activity, at the same time it pushes the price of oil up,” Pouyanne said at an Atlantic Council event in Washington. “Globally speaking for Total, it’s not so bad. Maybe it’s bad for some consumers. But I suspect these tensions are just pushing the price up and up and up. So we’ll see.” Crude prices this week reacted sharply following apparent sabotage attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and drone attacks on two pumping stations along Saudi Aramco’s East-West pipeline.
The attacks were followed by news Wednesday that the US State Department announced it was removing non-essential staff from Iraq, following weeks of statements by US officials that Iran-backed agents were threatening US assets in the country. Iraqi and international oil sector officials have said there have been no withdrawals by oil companies operating in Iraq, despite reports by local media.