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Iran Rises Above Russia On The Oil Market Radar

Iran has risen above Russia on the oil market radar due to reports from multiple sources that a new nuclear deal is very close to being agreed upon. Rumors that Russia was about to invade Ukraine sent oil prices soaring earlier in the week, but tensions eased slightly as the week went on.

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Friday, February 18th, 2022

Oil has been in the doldrums this week as increasingly worrying news from the Russia-Ukraine border was offset by tangible progress in the Iran nuclear talks. Reportedly, the sequence of steps regarding the gradual easing of sanctions has already been ironed out - first Iran has to halt all enrichment above 5% purity and release political prisoners, then JCPOA members will unfreeze its assets that were frozen following the reimposition of sanctions. Should Iran sign up to the deal, we could see free movement of its crude from Q3 2022 onwards, cooling down fears of longer-term supply tightness in the markets. 

Middle East Expects Iran to Join OPEC+. With the Vienna talks nearing the finish line, members of OPEC+ have started voicing their readiness to integrate Iran, a founding member of OPEC still exempt from the cuts, into the oil group’s production curtailment deal. 

OPEC Downplays Its Own Importance. The Congolese-born president of OPEC, Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua, stated that there is no immediate solution to high outright prices, downplaying the role of OPEC+ in the process and arguing that the oil group’s members need to invest more in drilling but it takes time to ramp up output. 

Iraq Picks a New Fight with Kurdistan. Iraq’s federal court ruled that Kurdistan’s oil and gas law is unconstitutional, demanding that Erbil hand over the totality of its crude supplies, paving the way for another period of institutional infighting. 

South Korea and Iran Prepare for Sanctions Lifting Time. The foreign ministries of Seoul and Teheran have started negotiations on resuming imports of Iranian crude and unfreezing Asian funds held in South Korean banks (some 7 billion), the first such move amidst OECD countries even though the Vienna talks are still yet to end on a positive note.

Qatar LNG Exports Down Due to Outage. According to media reports, LNG exports from Qatar’s Laffan liquefaction plant have been lower than nameplate capacity over the past days as train #6 seems to have been taken down for unplanned maintenance, reportedly until early March 2022. 

Venezuela Neglects Plentiful Oil Spills. The Venezuelan Academy of Sciences prepared a report on oil spills caused by loading operations of national oil company PDVSA, indicating there had been nine spills over the past two years and called upon the national oil firm to comply with clean-up operations. 

Singapore to Raise Carbon Tax. In a bid to curb its greenhouse gas emissions, Singapore announced that it would increase its carbon tax fivefold by 2025, bringing it to $25 per metric tonne by then, with only 5% of emissions allowed to be offset by international carbon credits. 

Macquarie Seeks UK Gas Grid Stake. As gas prices remain historically high in Europe, Australia’s Macquarie (ASX:MQG) holding is looking to buy a controlling stake in the gas transmission business of the UK National Grid (LON:NG), with the deal assessed to be worth more than $10 billion. 

Guyana Wants Middle Eastern NOCs in New Auctions. Guyana’s government reached out to state-run national oil companies from the Middle East to discover new offshore fields, potentially leading to the banning of ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) from a prospective drilling rights auction. 

Colombia Fast-Tracks Fracking Pilot Project. Racing against the clock with 6 years of reserves to production and an anti-oil presidential candidate assumed to win this year’s election, Colombian NOC Ecopetrol (NYSE:EC) filed the country’s first fracking environmental study for the Platero pilot project in the Magdalena Basin. 

Beijing Gas in Talks for 10-Year LNG Deal. China’s state-owned Beijing Gas is reportedly closing in on a 10-year LNG supply deal with UK major Shell (LON:SHEL) that would see 1.5 million tonnes of LNG delivered starting from 2023, with pricing based on a Brent slope lower than 12%. 

India Doubles Down on Green Hydrogen. Seeking to reduce its perennial dependence on imported hydrocarbons, India is aiming to produce 5 million tons of green hydrogen by 2030, with the Delhi government promising financial support to set up electrolyte rates across the country. 

Australia to Close Largest Coal-Fired Power Plant. Australia’s biggest coal-fired power plant will be closing down seven years early in 2025, operator Origin Energy announced, as renewables have overtaken coal in generation profitability and subdued power prices make it economical to maintain on a long-term basis. 

US NatGas Futures Rise on Colder Weather. Front-month US gas futures for March ‘22 delivery rose more than 15% for the week as anticipation of colder weather and record LNG exports ramped up prices to $4.6 per mmBtu.

By Josh Owens for Oilprice.com 

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