Oil prices reach four-year high ahead of USA sanctions on Iran

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Brent crude oil prices hit their highest level since November 2014 on Monday ahead of US sanctions against Iran that kick in next month.

Brent crude, against which Nigeria's oil is priced, increased by $1.59 to $84.32 per barrel as of 6:30pm Nigerian time, while US West Texas Intermediate rose by $1.67 to $74.92 per barrel.

But Brent spot prices have climbed by more than $12 per barrel (17 percent) since mid-August while the six-month calendar spread has risen nearly $2.60 and swung from contango into a pronounced backwardation.

Global benchmark Brent crude oil futures were at $85.03 per barrel at 0439 GMT, up 5 cents from their last close, and not far off the $85.45 peak reached in the previous session, the highest since November 2014. That's the highest level since November 2014.

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Brent has risen by more than 20 percent from its most recent lows in August. In Iran, crude exports declined to their lowest in 2 1/2 years before the impending return of US sanctions.

Saudi Arabia is the world's top oil exporter and OPEC's de-facto leader.

The expectations of still-strong demand for oil come as U.S.

Media reports said that Saudi Arabia would raise oil outputs in the coming months to deal with the drop in Iranian oil production and might limit outputs next year to balance global supply and demand when the U.S. pumps more quantities of crude.

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"Nobody wants to get caught short, full in the knowledge that more Iranian barrels are poised to be removed from the market, " Stephen Brennock, oil analyst at PVM Oil Associates, said in a research note published on Monday, as quoted by CNBC.

Prior to the November 4 oil trade sanctions, the White House prohibits Iran from using United States dollars for its global trading activities as well as the sale of its precious metals in the world market. He says, "High oil and natural gas prices will benefit upstream oil and gas exploration companies like ONGC, Oil India and Reliance Industries as higher gas prices will lead to higher earnings, due to improvement in per unit realisations in the natural gas segment".

Trade data in Refinitiv Eikon showed Iran's seaborne exports in September were just 1.9 million barrels per day, the lowest level since mid-2016.

Last week, Brent crude rose above the $80 per barrel mark as the market tightened and after Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation ruled out any immediate increase in production despite calls by US President Donald Trump for action to raise global supply.

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As indicated over at Oil and Gas Investor, the high crude prices coupled with a stronger U.S. dollar might hit the demand growth by 2019.