U.S. President Donald Trump has said that he will announce his decision about the Iran nuclear deal at 6 p.m. GMT despite originally planning to decide by Saturday, May 12th. Oil markets responded swiftly to Trump’s announcement, with traders taking profits after oil prices hit four-year highs yesterday. U.S. WTI futures were trading at $69.91 per barrel, down over 1 percent from Monday’s close, as of 12:54 p.m. HK/SIN. Brent crude futures were down 0.96 percent to $75.44 per barrel.
It seems that President Trump is opposed to the current nuclear deal in principle, but there is no indication that Iran has not complied with its part of the bargain. If Trump cannot prove Iran’s noncompliance, the United States will be forced to withdraw unilaterally from the deal. In this scenario, analysts expect that Trump will impose fresh sanctions on Iran and will expect other countries to exert similar pressure until a nuclear deal can be made that Trump is satisfied with. According to Reuters, Trump may even ask other world leaders to cut their oil purchases from Iran by 20 percent every 180 days, a guideline that was suggested by the Obama administration. It is expected that if Trump implements new sanctions, 500,000 barrels of oil would be withdrawn from the market daily. There would likely be a 6-month transition period during which Washington would be able to get all policies sorted and settled.
If Trump imposes fresh sanctions on Iran oil prices are likely to rise considerably due to the limited supply that will be available. Also likely to send prices higher is the continued trouble in Venezuela where problems with production at the PDVSA plant have reduced supply. If Trump does implement new sanctions, traders will immediately turn to OPEC to see if it will maintain its production cuts or ease restrictions to bring additional supplies to the global market.