Cities falling, oil rising and militants taking hostages and control and Iraq could be exploding into civil war. Iraq is looking to the US to help with air-strikes yet the Obama Administration is yet to make a decision. Bordering countries Turkey and Iran may get dragged in as they try to protect their interests and expand their influence.
In the meantime the oil market not only is worried about Iraq but the inability of Ukraine and Russia to seal and gas deal is raising oil risk premium on multiple fronts. Even as OPEC pumps out as much oil as the world wants to buy from them if there is a loss of oil from Iraq it will be difficult to replace their estimated 3.3 million barrels a day of exports.
First in was Mosul and then Tikrit getting into the heart of Iraqi production areas. Iraq is vowing to retake the cities, but without the help of U.S. airstrike the retreating Iraq army may have a difficult time reestablishing control. Turkey is calling for NATO emergency meeting as insurgents in Iraq have reportedly kidnapped 48 Turks.
Iranian President Hassan Rohan said that Iran will combat terrorism by Sunni extremists in Iraq. The militants are calling themselves Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaeda breakaway group and al Sham. Turkey may be getting ready to act militarily and Iran may be just talking but the risk to oil supply is high as Mosul and Tikrit are oil rich areas.
Iran of course has been taking full advantage of the easing of oil sanctions. Bloomberg news reported that shipments of Iranian crude oil and condensate have increased about 28% on average this year, according to an analysis of customs data from importing nations and figures from the International Energy Agency in Paris. If crude sales are up by the end of July, that would break an international accord to hold Iran’s oil exports at the same level in the first half of this year that they were at in the previous six months.
Questioned in Congress yesterday about possible sanctions violations, an Obama administration official who monitors Iran’s oil exports said he’s confident that Iranian crude shipments have remained within the limits set in a six-month agreement signed Jan. 20 that granted Iran some sanctions relief in exchange for limited nuclear concessions.
“Where we are today, we feel comfortable that the crude oil exports of Iran are remaining in the 1 million to 1.1 million barrels per day average,” Amos Hochstein, deputy assistant secretary of state for energy diplomacy, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Only six buyers are still allowed to take crude from Iran - - China, India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Taiwan -- down from 21 before the restrictions went into effect in mid-2012.
Oil tried to take the risks in stride but overnight the fears are taking over. Russia and Ukraine still can’t agree on a deal over the price of natural gas supplied. The Ukraine refused Russia’s offer at the EU brokered meeting keeping open the possibility that that Russia at some point may cut off supply.
Nat gas is under pressure ahead of today’s injection report that should show a 114 bcf injection. Cool temperatures are allowing supply to rise but some talk of a July heat dome may raise fears about storage once again. In the short-term a bit bearish due the weather but still bullish in the long term!