The market is higher even as the Biden administration admits what oil traders have known all along, that they are allowing Iran to sell oil and have ignored sanctions. Bloomberg News reported the admission that the White House said that they have “privately relaxed their approach to Iranian oil” and that “for global oil markets, a US-Iran deal is already happening.” While some in Congress may be surprised that the White House has secretly lifted oil sanctions, Iran oil company executives and traders are not. In fact, oil watchers know that Iran’s exports have been overtly flowing into China for some time and sometimes disguised.
Reuters reported that Iran ramped up crude exports in 2023, with May’s outflow hitting a 4-1/2 year high of 1.54 million barrels per day, according to ship tracking data from Kpler. Iran’s production climbed to 3 million barrels a day in July, the highest level since 2018, according to the International Energy Agency in Paris. Many I speak to in the oil industry think this is a total insult to the US oil and gas industry. US oil producers and oil companies continue to see the support and wonder why they continue to be beaten up by this administration while they go out of their way to bend over backwards to encourage more oil production from places like Venezuela and Iran.
In fact, Oil Price reported today that, “The American Petroleum Institute (API), U.S. supermajor Chevron (NYSE:), and the state of Louisiana had to sue the Biden Administration after the federal government reduced the area to be offered in the next Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale by 9% to safeguard the habitat of a rare whale species. The adjustment, which will see the Department of the Interior auction 67 million acres in the next lease sale instead of 73.4 million acres, followed a legal settlement with environmentalists regarding the whale habitat. The latest terms of the next oil and gas lease sale will be with significantly reduced acreage and severe restrictions on oil and vessel traffic, say the claimants in the challenge filed with the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.”
Do you think Iran or Venezuela that the Biden administration is interested in saving the whales? Yet as Bloomberg reports, “US Iran Deal is already happening, they say that “Neither country expects to imminently resurrect the 2015 accord — abandoned by former President Donald Trump — that allowed the Islamic Republic to freely sell oil in return for limiting its nuclear program. Yet in recent weeks, they’ve reached an understanding on a possible prisoner exchange and the transfer of $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue stuck in South Korea — developments the Biden administration insists aren’t linked. There are even reports that Iran significantly slowed the buildup of near-weapons-grade enriched uranium.”
Yet those reports are unconfirmed. It appears that the Biden administration’s desire should lift sanctions on Venezuela and Iran is purely for their own political benefit. They can continue to hammer U.S. oil and gas companies and claim victories on the environment. That will satisfy their green base. In the meantime, they need to encourage more oil production from Venezuela and Iran to make up for the void coming from the US oil and gas producers. Well, people in the administration will tout that US production is at an all-time high. The reality is that most experts believe that under a different administration that was more energy-friendly the US producers would be producing anywhere from 2 to 4 million barrels more a day than they are currently.
Every major reporting agency in the world is predicting a supply shortage in the coming months and the Biden team is looking to avoid the blame. If it does not cool prices, they will be quick to blame the war profiteers and price gougers or who we call the US oil and gas and fuel industry.
Oil prices today will take their cue from comments out of Jackson Hole. Yesterday the diesel crack spread once again supported the entire complex. Oil prices bounced off the Bollinger band and in the past when we’ve seen that type of market action, it has indicated a short-term bottom. We assume that unless we get a very hawkish Jerome Powell today oil prices should resume the uptrend and will continue to be led by products such as diesel that are in tight supply. Natural gas did get a nice bounce after yesterday’s smaller-than-expected injection into supply. Inventories should continue to tighten with record-breaking heat and the lack of wind in Texas.