Oil Rises to Three-Day High as Saudi Arabia Is Seen Targeting $100 Crude
Bloomberg | Jan 17
Oil rose to the highest level in three days on speculation that China will intensify monetary stimulus, supporting fuel demand, and as France pushed for a ban on Iranian imports. France wants a European Union embargo delayed by no more than three months as members seek alternative supplies, an official with knowledge of the matter said yesterday. China’s economy expanded at the slowest pace in 10 quarters, sustaining pressure on Premier Wen Jiabao to ease monetary policy. Saudi Arabia aims to stabilize the average of crude prices worldwide at $100 a barrel in 2012, Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said in an interview with CNN yesterday. “Everything is rising because of China,” said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “It’s general market sentiment.”
Iran Face-Off Testing Obama the Candidate
NY Times | Jan 17
The escalating American confrontation with Iran poses a major new political threat to President Obama as he heads into his campaign for re-election, presenting him with choices that could harm either the economic recovery or his image as a firm leader. Sanctions against Iran’s oil exports that the president signed into law on New Year’s Eve started a fateful clock ticking. In late June, when the campaign is in full swing, Mr. Obama will have to decide whether to take action against countries, including some staunch allies, if they continue to buy Iranian oil through its central bank.
US presses Seoul to cut Iranian oil
Korea Times | Jan 17
A senior U.S. official urged Korea to reduce its crude oil imports from Iran, Tuesday, as part of a U.S.-led sanctions campaign over Tehran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, saying Washington would work closely to minimize adverse effects on the local economy.
Tensions rise between Iran, Arab states over possible oil embargo
LA Times | Jan 16
The deepening economic and diplomatic pressure against Iran is sharpening tensions between Tehran and oil-producing Arab states that have long relied on the West to counter Iran’s nuclear program and its regional ambitions. Iran’s growing isolation has agitated sectarian mistrust in the Persian Gulf between Tehran’s Shiite Muslim-run government and Sunni-controlled states including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. In a provocative move over the weekend, Iran warned Arab regimes not to join a possible Western-backed oil embargo to further weaken its economy.
Iran tops agenda as Chinese chief visits gulf
The Jerusalem Post | Jan 17
China hasn’t joined the Western sanctions effort – indeed, Beijing gave US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner a “No” when he visited last week to try to recruit China into the sanctions campaign – but it realizes that its supplies of Iranian oil are no longer as secure as they once were. Analysts say it wants to make sure the Saudis will be able to open the taps if needed.
China weighs ‘right side of history’ in Gulf
Asia Times | Jan 18
Rebuff the United States’ entreaties regarding sanctions against Iran, then nonchalantly cross the Sunni-Shi’ite divide in the Persian Gulf while sidestepping the Arab Spring altogether and vaguely greeting Islamism, and all this as solo acts – Chinese diplomacy is on a roll in the Middle East. Premier Wen Jiabao’s current six-day visit to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar is a display of masterly diplomacy. China is probably the only big power today among the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council that can claim a strong partnership with Syria and Iran on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the other.
History Suggests Europe’s Iran Oil Ban Could Fail
The Source/The Wall Street Journal | Jan 16
U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague reportedly confirmed over the weekend that the European Union will slam an oil embargo on Iran when it meets later this month. U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague reportedly confirmed over the weekend that the European Union will slam an oil embargo on Iran when it meets later this month. But in a freshly released report, Chatham House, the U.K.’s most authoritative foreign affairs think-tank, begs to differ. “Oil embargoes simply do not work,” it said. Its conclusion is based largely on a previous embargo against Iran—when foreign powers banned Iranian exports after Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh nationalized the country’s oil industry.”>report, Chatham House, the U.K.’s most authoritative foreign affairs think-tank, begs to differ. “Oil embargoes simply do not work,” it said. Its conclusion is based largely on a previous embargo against Iran—when foreign powers banned Iranian exports after Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh nationalized the country’s oil industry.
Closure of Hormuz Strait: An Actual Threat or Diplomacy?
Sara Vakhshouri, Fmr. advisor to the director of the National Iranian Oil Co (lHuffington Post) | Jan 16
Closing the Straight, albeit temporarily, is their way of signaling that there are some bargaining chips that it cannot tolerate being deprived of. Since there is no ongoing dialogue between the US and Iran, the threat to close the Straight of Hormuz should be seen as an act of subtle diplomacy in the absence of ambassadors and embassies. It is not a desire to disrupt global energy markets, which would destroy any support Iran has from other countries (such as Russia and China) opposed to sanctions. Thus, it is a rhetorical device, a warning rather than a promise. It is a massage to remind the US and Europe that Iran plays a major role in global oil security and energy markets, and also to counter the convenient idea that Saudi spare capacity would simply replace Iranian oil and leave markets in tact. These warnings should not be seen as ‘bluster’ by an irrational regime, but as an expression of Iran’s rubric of national security.
Iran Warns Riyadh, An Increase In Exports Is ‘Unfriendly’
AGI | Jan 17
Tehran- Iran warned Saudi Arabia “reflect” on its commitment to increase oil production to offset any fall due to sanctions. A move of this kind, warned foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, in an interview with Iran’s Arabic language television channel, Al-Alam, does not show a “friendly” attitude. “We urge the Saudi authorities to further reflect and reconsider” their offer to compensate for decreased Iranian exports, added Salehi.