Crude futures range bound amid Iran sanction talks, IEA report; Brent at $60.31/b

London — Crude oil futures remained rangebound Friday in mid-morning European trade, as the market digests the possibility of sanction relief on Iran and the International Energy Agency’s bearish supply and demand report, implying a supply glut in early 2020. At 12:21 BST (1121 GMT), ICE Brent November crude futures edged down 7 cents/b from Thursday’s settle to $60.31/b, while the NYMEX October light sweet crude futures contract was down 8 cents/b to $55.01/b. “There are a lot of moving segments and big statements in the last week which have impacted the market,” Bjarne Schieldrop, chief analyst of commodities at SEB bank, said Friday morning. The “truly bearish factor” would be the easing of sanctions on Iran, if this were to happen, bringing yet more oil to the market at a time of lower revised demand from OPEC+, Schieldrop said. US President Donald Trump has said he might be willing to meet with meet his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, though Rouhani insists any meeting would require the lifting of US sanctions as a precondition. Iran has asked French President Emmanuel Macron to convince Washington to issue new waivers, or arrange a credit line backed by Iran’s oil sale revenues. Iran’s oil tankers are now holding almost 50 million barrels of oil at sea, the highest level since early January 2016, just before then US President Barack Obama’s administration and its Western allies agreed a nuclear pact with Iran and lifted key oil sanctions. A relaxing of sanctions would mean a prompt unloading of these floating barrels at a time when the market could face a substantial oil glut amid slowing oil demand growth. “Overall the market is in two phases, at present it is very tight but then we are super bearish for 2020 in surplus supply,” Schieldrop said, highlighting the International Energy Agency report published Thursday. The IEA lowered its estimate of the call on OPEC’s crude oil in the first half of 2020 to 28.3 million b/d and said market management would remain “daunting” despite a demand spike in the second half of 2019. Besides this, the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee meeting in Abu Dhabi on Thursday was slightly disappointing for investors, opting as it did not to deepen OPEC’s oil output cuts or consider any changes to the production cut agreement. Elsewhere, eyes will be fixed upon the upcoming US Federal Reserve board’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting next week, with expectations of further rate cuts running high. However, with the olive branches extended between US and China, as well as positive news on US CPI and headline inflation, the pressure is on the Fed to meet interest rate cut expectations.