World crude oil prices have hit their 2019 highs, above $72, as growth in China and falling U.S. stockpiles helped tighten supplies.
At the same time, Venezuelan and Iranian exports were reduced, contributing to stronger demand for oil.
Iran’s crude exports in April dropped below one million barrels per day, as tanker traffic showed and as expected by analysts.
The U.S. imposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports last November, cutting exports by half to just above the one-million-barrel mark. But the U.S. has extended exemptions or waivers to eight friendly countries for a reduced amount of oil purchases from Iran. The waivers however end in May and it is not clear to what extent Washington is willing to renew exemptions.
In March Iranian exports increased to 1.7 million barrels, as countries with waivers, such as Japan, rushed to buy their unfilled quota’s set by the U.S. waivers. This meant that Iran would export less in April.
OPEC and allies including Russia reached a pact to set limits to exports this year, which started to push oil prices higher. The next meeting of OPEC and partners is scheduled for June, but Russia’s willingness to stick with the cuts now looks less clear.