USA considers sanction waivers on countries reducing imports of Iranian oil

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Oil also dropped as investors focused on rising output from other producers, such as top exporter Saudi Arabia, to compensate for lower Iranian supplies which have fallen further in October according to export data.

A US government official said on Friday that the administration was considering waivers on Iran's oil sanctions.

But Iran, OPEC's third-largest producer, has repeatedly said that its oil exports can not be reduced to zero because of high demand levels in the market and has blamed Trump for an oil price rally caused by imposing sanctions on Tehran.

The US administration is "in the midst of an internal process" of considering significant reduction exemptions, Reuters reported quoting an unnamed government official.

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton said only last week that the administration wanted to avoid all waivers and see Iranian oil and gas exports entirely staunched, but that it might not be able to achieve that aim.

The nation continued buying Iranian oil during the previous round of sanctions, from 2012 to 2015, although it cut its purchases significantly to protect its access to the U.S. market. China, too, attempted in March to launch crude futures contracts in local currency to circumvent U.S. sanctions barring Tehran access to the greenback.

"Chatter that Saudi Arabia has replaced all of Iran's lost oil" is weighing on prices, said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.

"(Mohammed) bin Salman's remarks and such bragging can only satisfy (U.S. President Donald) Trump.

Crude futures rose to a four-year high this past week as the market prepares for the return of United States sanctions on Iran, the world's seventh largest producer of oil and a significant military power in the Strait of Hormuz, through which a third of the world's oil supply passes each day.

"This is one of the single biggest supportive factors for crude", said analysts at JBC Energy of the of Iran sanctions.

"Eventually, you get to acceptance", he added.

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