Oil reaches 3.5-year highs as Iran uncertainty pushes prices up

Crude surged to the highest level since November 2014 over fears that the United States could pull out of the Iranian nuclear pact. If the deal is scrapped, Iranian oil exports are at risk.

Brent crude oil touched $75.89 a barrel, while the US West Texas Intermediate reached $70.52. The yuan-traded Shanghai futures surged to an all-time high in US dollars at $72.54 on Monday.

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“The new surge in oil purchases is driven by investor confidence that this week [US President Donald] Trump will decide to withdraw from Iran's nuclear program and impose new sanctions on a major OPEC exporter,” GLOBAL FX analyst Sergey Kostenko said in an e-mail to RT.

Iran once again became a major oil exporter in 2016 after international sanctions were gradually lifted. If the US is scrapping the deal, the oil market could lose Iranian exports, and prices could rise with the fall in supply.

“The extraterritorial nature of US sanctions, which cover energy, shipbuilding, finance, trade, insurance, etc., means that…Irans oil exports could credibly be curtailed by 200,000-300,000 bpd,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Helima Croft said, US drillers increased the amount of rigs by nine to 834, energy services firm Baker Hughes said on Friday.

“The growth in production in the US is being counterbalanced by the simultaneous decline in Venezuela,” said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

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