Asian oil buyers taking their pick of supply from Iraq to Mexico amid a global glut are preparing for the pool of potential bargains to expand if Iran boosts exports. As world leaders seek an accord on Iran’s nuclear program, at least six Asian refiners including India’s Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. and Japan’s Cosmo Oil Co. are anticipating more supply from the Middle East producer if sanctions against the nation are lifted. While global producers seek to defend market share as oil prices trade near a six-year low, buyers in Asia are diversifying their crude sources by shipping cargoes from as far as Colombia.
Iran says it could add a million barrels to daily oil production shortly after a deal to lift sanctions is reached, reclaiming the position of OPEC’s second-largest supplier. While the timing of such a move would be at least months away because the sanctions would be rolled back slowly, industry observers largely agree that the capacity is there. Yet going further than that and adding a second million barrels -- as the government has said it plans to do -- will prove a much bigger challenge.
Iran is said to be offering its main crude grade to customers in Asia at the deepest discount in 14 years, taking a cue from Saudi Arabia in trimming price differentials. National Iranian Oil Co. cut its official selling price for January shipments of light crude to Asia to a discount of $1.80 a barrel below the regional benchmark as Middle Eastern producers vie to keep selling in the region, according to four people with knowledge of the decision. An official at NIOC’s crude-marketing department in Tehran declined to comment.
Brent resumed its decline as an Iranian official predicted a further slump in prices if solidarity among OPEC members falters. West Texas Intermediate in New York also erased yesterday’s gains. Futures slid as much as 1.6% in London after snapping a five-day losing streak. Crude could fall to as low as $40 a barrel amid a price war or if divisions emerge in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said an official at Iran’s oil ministry.