SINGAPORE: Oil prices recovered from 12-year lows in Asia on Tuesday but remained below $30 a barrel, as Iran ordered a boost to crude production after the West lifted sanctions, exacerbating an already oversupplied global market.
Prices sank to depths not seen since 2003 on Monday, a day after the United States and Europe lifted the crippling economic sanctions in exchange for Tehran’s compliance with a deal to curb the country’s nuclear ambitions.
Iran immediately announced a major boost in oil production, with the National Iranian Oil Company saying it had ordered output to increase by 500,000 barrels a day.
Iran currently produces 2.8 million barrels a day and exports just over one million barrels.
By around 6:20 a.m. local time, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in February had risen 13 cents, or 0.44 percent, at $29.55 a barrel, reversing losses in the morning.
Brent crude for March was trading 55 cents, or 1.93 percent, higher at $29.10. Brent plumbed below $28 for the first time since November 2003 on Monday.
“The re-entry of Iran . . . is expected to further add to the supply glut,” said Sanjeev Gupta, head of the Asia Pacific oil and gas practice at professional services firm EY.
“Pending any major disruption in supply, the increase in exports from Iran will restrict any major gains to the price of crude in the near-term,” he told Agence France-Presse.
However, analysts said that the return to the market of Iranian oil will be gradual due to certain constraints.
“Before large volume exports can begin, Iran will have to set up new oil sales contracts above those already in place,” BMI Research said in a market commentary.
It said Europe is expected to be the initial target for Iranian oil exports but noted that Iran “will have to offer incentives and ensure sufficient transparency in its domestic banking sector to lure back European buyers.”
“As such we expect a more gradual return of oil to markets, not an immediate flood of oil,” it added.