Oil dropped on regional media reports that ignited speculation the U.S. and Iran are nearing a deal that would pave the way for more Iranian crude exports. U.S. officials denied the reports.

West Texas Intermediate fell as much as 4.8 per cent before paring losses and settling near US$71 a barrel. Regional media including Israel’s Haaretz said Iran and the U.S. have made progress in talks over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Any agreement to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, which the Trump administration voided, would likely include the U.S. waiving sanctions on purchases of Iranian oil, potentially releasing a flood of exports.

State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said the report is false. “Any reports of an interim deal are false.” Iranian officials have declined to comment. 

The “knee-jerk move lower” was likely an over reaction,” said Rebecca Babin, a senior energy trader at CIBC Private Wealth. “However, the price action demonstrates just how quickly crude can turn lower while it struggles to move higher even when there are positive developments,” she added.

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Formerly OPEC’s No. 2 producer, Iran could restore about 1 million barrels of daily crude production within months of a deal, traders and analysts said last year before talks broke down. It could be back to full capacity of about 3.7 million barrels a day by next year.

Oil is down 10 per cent this year as China’s sluggish economic recovery, interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve and robust Russian crude flows weigh on prices. In an attempt to rally prices, Saudi Arabia’s pledged to cut over 1 million barrels a day on top of cuts made by the cartel earlier this year.


  • WTI for July delivery fell US$1.24 to settle at US$71.29 a barrel in New York.
  • Brent for August settlement declined 99 cents to settle at US$75.96 a barrel.