Crude Firms as OPEC Shifts Concern to a Potential Global Oversupply

The contract is on course for a weekly loss of more than 4 percent and is down more than $10 in three weeks.

Brent crude futures were down 49 cents, or 0.6 per cent, at $76.40 a barrel by 0649 GMT.

U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the Iranian global nuclear agreement in May and vowed to re-impose sanctions on Iran's financial, automotive, aviation and metal sectors.

In equity markets, the S&P 500 Index is set for the worst monthly decline since 2011 on concerns over global economic growth and sluggish corporate earnings.

Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh played down President Trump's attempts to "zero down Iran's crude exports", warning that the USA sanctions will only inflame the market.

The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for December delivery picked up 0.26 US dollar to settle at 67.59 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The shift by Beijing, Iran's top customer, gives the US a building block in an economic barrier around Iran as it prepares to renew sanctions on the country's energy sector in early November.

Of late Beijing has been Tehranʹs most important trading partner, accounting for 25.6 percent of imports and 19.7 percent of exports.

The official stressed that the Ministry of Petroleum and NIOC have geared up to offer the crude oil via the stock exchange in a bid to diversify oil sales and keep the country's quota in the global oil market.

US crude was 63 cents lower at $66.70, set for a 3.5 percent loss this week. "Based on market fundamentals, there is absolutely no reason oil prices should be at this level", said Ali Moshiri, chairman of Amos Global Energy LLC, a Houston-based oil producer and a longtime Chevron Corp. executive.

The market for months has weighed concern surrounding potential supply shortages from USA sanctions on Iran, due to come into force November 4. Washington is still insisting on full compliance to ensure no Iranian oil exports find a market. Traders were also reacting to Saudi Arabia's assurance that it would make up for the loss of Iranian oil, by playing a "responsible role" in the market.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said this week, according to Russian news agency TASS, that the country would bump up its production to 11 million barrels a day to cool off the oil market, although some oil observers wonder if the kingdom would be able to fulfill this promise.

  • Eleanor Harrison