OPEC chief says Iran still very important as US sanctions loom

Iran OPEC chief: 'Saudi and Russia are taking oil market hostage'

Global oil prices edged up from early losses on Monday despite assurances from Washington that Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States can raise output fast enough to offset falling supplies from Iran and elsewhere.

Benchmark Brent crude already is nearing $80 a barrel and some believe it may go even higher.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading up 0.8% at $69.54 a barrel.

" Oil prices have gone up after Saudi Arabia said it was comfortable with Brent oil above $80 a barrel", Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix consultancy said.

Crude inventories fell 2.1 million barrels last week to 394.1 million barrels, the lowest level since February 2015, EIA data showed.

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"Iran is not only a founding member of OPEC, it's a very important member of this organization".

Novak also remarked that OPEC+ would discuss supply and demand forecasts for the fourth quarter and that Russian Federation was ready to discuss cooperation with the U.S.to balance the oil market; he did not elaborate on the latter point other than to say such discussions were not now being held.

US crude inventories rose by 1.2 million barrels to 397.1 million in the week to September 14, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API).

Ahead of that meeting in Vienna, the producers will meet in Algeria this month to discuss possible scenarios.

Ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers meet on Sunday to discuss compliance with output policies.

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"It may also suggest they don't have the ability to make up for the losses that are already stemming from impending US sanctions on Iran".

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed Saudi sources, the kingdom was now comfortable with prices above $80 per barrel, at least for the short-term.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Monday that Washington would slap 10% tariffs on another $200 billion Chinese imports, except smart watches from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Fitbit and other consumer products including bicycle helmets and baby vehicle seats.

He added: "We have no choice but continue to work with all parties".

Saudi Arabia has mentioned several times recently that they have no desire to push oil prices over $80/barrel, a move higher may be unavoidable as U.S. sanctions on Iran are set to come into effect beginning November 4th.

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