Oil slumps below $28 to 2003 low as Iran sanctions lifted

Mon Jan 18, 2016 2:31pm EST
 
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By Nia Williams

(Reuters) - Oil prices slumped to a 2003 low below $28 per barrel on Monday as the market anticipated a rise in Iranian exports after the lifting of sanctions against Tehran over the weekend.

Responding to Tehran's compliance with a nuclear deal, the United States and major powers revoked international sanctions that had cut Iran's oil exports by about 2 million barrels per day (bpd) since their pre-sanctions 2011 peak to little more than 1 million bpd.

Iran, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), issued an order on Monday to increase production by 500,000 bpd, the country's deputy oil minister said.

Worries about Iran's return to an already oversupplied oil market drove down Brent crude LCOc1 to $27.67 a barrel early on Monday, its lowest since 2003. The benchmark was down 29 cents at $28.64 by 1850 GMT (1350 ET).

U.S. crude CLc1 was down 48 cents at $28.94 a barrel, not far from a 2003 low of $28.36 hit earlier in the session. Trading volumes were thin with U.S. markets closed for the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

"You can't say this was unexpected but the Iran news is an additional factor that's working against oil prices," said TD Securities analyst Bart Melek, who also pointed to global oversupply and concerns about demand from China.

He said oil could fall further if Chinese economic data released overnight, including GDP and retail sales data, points to more weakness in the economy.

"If we get nasty economic numbers from China there's potential for another swoosh lower," Melek said.   Continued...

 
A flame shoots out of a chimney at a petro-industrial factory in Kawasaki near Tokyo December 18, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/Files