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Global Energy Report: Crude Slips in Asia With Focus on Iran Exports

Crude oil prices eased in Asia on Monday with efforts by Iran to get around pending US economic sanctions still a wild card as it attempts to head off a November deadline that would see many key importers follow Washington’s decision to end imports of Iranian barrels.

ICE Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the US, eased 0.04% to $71.80 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures slipped 0.15% to $65.11 a barrel. Last week, ICE Brent crude oil futures settled up 0.60% to $71.83 a barrel, down 1.4% on the week, while NYMEX WTI dropped 0.7% to $65.91, down 2.6% on the week. WTI fell for a seventh straight week, and Brent was down for a third week.

Iran told OPEC on Sunday no member country should be allowed to take over another member’s share of oil exports, expressing Tehran’s concern about Saudi Arabia’s offer to pump more oil in the face of US sanctions on Iranian oil sales.

In a meeting with OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo, a senior Iranian diplomat urged him to keep the group out of politics. “No country is allowed to take over the share of other members for production and exports of oil under any circumstance, and the OPEC Ministerial Conference has not issued any licence for such actions,” Iran’s oil ministry news agency SHANA quoted Kazem Gharibabadi, the permanent envoy to Vienna-based international organisations, as saying.

Iran’s vice president said on Sunday the government was seeking solutions to sell oil and transfer its revenues after the United States withdrew from a nuclear deal with Tehran and slapped fresh sanctions on Iranian energy and banking sectors. “We are hopeful that the European countries can meet their commitments but even if they cannot, we are seeking solutions to sell our oil and transfer its revenues,” Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

European signatories to a 2015 nuclear deal have been searching for ways to salvage it despite the US exit and Washington’s pressure on its allies to cut purchases of Iranian oil.

Elsewhere, bullish bets on crude futures and options in London and New York fell by 41,031 contracts to 356,854 in the week to Aug. 14, the CFTC said on Friday.

The number of rigs drilling for oil in the US held stead at 869 last week, Baker Hughes said on Friday. Simmons & Co. forecast that the average total oil and natural gas rig count would rise from 876 in 2017 to 1,031 in 2018, 1,092 in 2019 and 1,227 in 2020, little-changed from last week.

US natural gas futures dropped 1.39% to $2.905 per million British thermal units (mmBtu). US natural gas net long positions rose by 72,782 contracts to 205,206 in the week to Aug. 14, the CFTC said on Friday, the highest since late June.