U.S. may not be able to offset Iran oil losses

By Sheela Tobben on 4/24/2019
Photo: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proclaimed America’s ability to help offset supply losses when the the U.S. vowed to stop any sales of Iranian crude. Maybe, but it would be a stretch.

Oil condensate from the Eagle Ford shale basin in Texas is similar, though a bit heavier than Iran’s light South Pars condensate. But the Eagle Ford produces only about 150,000 bopd of its product, compared with Iran’s daily output of 600,000 bpd in 2017.

It won’t be "like for like" replacement, said Sandy Fielden, an analyst at Morningstar Inc., by telephone. And "buyers may not be very confident."

Meanwhile, American refiners hard-pressed to replace lost supply from Venezuela, Mexico and Canada are lined up for the heavier, high-sulfur oil produced in the U.S. that would be the closest alternative to other types of heavy crude produced in Iran.

This week, the Trump administration said it won’t renew waivers that let countries buy Iranian oil without facing U.S. sanctions. Pompeo said the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the UAE will work directly with Iran’s former customers to offset their losses.

If the U.S. pulls off its stated intent to push Iran oil sales to zero, the waivers could affect as much as 800,000 total barrels a day of supply.

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